Deliver the site to your client

Get [good] feedback.

Woo! Congrats, you’ve built your first website!

But before we get carried away, it’s likely your client will have a few (hopefully minor) edits for you. This is natural. It’s part of the process.

Here’s the thing though. Many — if not all clients — will try to tell you what is best for their website even though they’re not a designer and don’t know best practices.

Not all feedback is bad feedback though, and usually, you just have to train your clients on how to provide effective feedback.

So here’s the difference between effective feedback and prescriptive feedback, as detailed by Paul Jarvis:

Bad feedback:
  • make the logo bigger
  • change the word “poor” to “bad”
  • draw that icon using #00a8ff instead of #01a8fe

Good feedback:
  • I’m afraid visitors won’t know what site they’re on
  • the word “poor” doesn’t feel like the right tone for my brand
  • the shade of blue in that icon doesn’t feel vibrant enough for the visual language of my business

The above is bad feedback because it’s telling you what to do, not what they think the problem is. You’re the expert, so you find the solution. They’re the client, so they tell you the problem.

How to teach your clients to give good feedback and avoid bad feedback

Good feedback

Be honest. If you don’t like something, I need to know – now, not three weeks down the road.

Be specific. Point out what, exactly, is not working for you, and why it’s not working. Ask why. If you aren’t sure what I was thinking, I’d love to explain my reasoning. Everything I’ve done for the project has a purpose.

Refer to your goals. Relate every piece of criticism back to your goals.

Relate to your audience. Your audience should be top of mind for every decision or critique that you provide. What do they need? What will they love?

Bad feedback

Involve everyone you know in the creative process. I work best when you alone serve as the expert on your company and its audience. Art made by committee is rarely successful.

Take things personally. If I missed the mark, we need to figure out why and move closer to our mutual target. If I disagree with you, it’s because I’m thinking about your goals and your audience. It’s not personal, it’s business.

Do my work for me. Please give me written or verbal instructions about what isn’t working; don’t redo my work to illustrate your point.

Prescribe fixes. You’re paying me to provide solutions. Explain the problem and I’ll pitch potential fixes to you, based on my research, experience and skills.

Paul actually gives a PDF of the above to his clients before they start working together. I wouldn’t go as so far to do that this early on in your web design career, but I would definitely keep in it in the back of your mind so you recognize the difference and find more subtle ways to nip the not-so-good feedback in the bud as soon as you see it.

He also recommends a few subtle ways to get this type of feedback and put an end to bad client feedback. Here’s Paul:

  • Always propose a better or alternate solution to their request. Back it up with research, expertise and past experiences. Shift the conversation to focus on facts and best practices, not opinions or emotions.
  • Offer solid reasons why you feel the requested change is misguided. Relate your rationale back to their customers and the project goals.
  • Empathize and be sincere. You don’t want to argue or disagree for the sake of it, but you do want to ensure your client gets the best end product possible.
  • Ask questions and be curious. Why did they ask for the change? What’s their reasoning, and what bothers them about the current iteration?
  • Brainstorm better solutions. Involve the client in your problem solving, since they know their customers and audience best.
  • Clarify. If a client asks for something that you feel is just plain wrong, get to the root of WHY they want it. A workable solution often lies beyond the initial change request.
  • Politely re-iterate that they’re experts in their business and you’re an expert in your field. The magic happens when your skills and expertise come together.
  • Always focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t.

And last but not least, if you don’t understand their feedback, keep asking questions until you do. It’s your job as the design expert to figure out what your client is saying.

Ready, set, email this baby to your client, and get some *good* feedback. Iterate/edit and/or pushback as needed.

Make the site live.

Once you’re done editing, change the domain name by going to your WordPress dashboard, and clicking the “Change domain” hyperlink in the alert box at the top of your backend.

Take screenshots or video recordings of the site.

Make sure you take screenshots of every page and/or screenrecord the website because clients may try to mess with your design or sites might be taken offline. This way, you’ll always have proof of the beautiful website you made.

Place them in a safe, organized place for later use.

Conduct an exit interview.

Don’t just jump into asking for a testimonial. Conduct an exit interview to ensure the client is happy before you ask them to give you this rave review.

Genuinely ask your client for honest feedback because you want to make them happy and improve your work for new customers.

Paul recommends asking the following questions:
  • Did my work meet or exceed your expectations?
  • Did the proposal accurately reflect what I provided for you? Why or why not?
  • What did you learn from working with me that you didn’t know before this project?
  • What was your favourite part of the project?
  • What was your least favourite part of the project?
  • Would you hire me again in the future?
  • Would you be willing to provide a testimonial that speaks to the work I provided? If so, can you write out the quantifiable value or results of my services?
  • Do you know anyone else who might be interested in hiring or working with me?

You can send these via email or create a Google Form and email the link to the form to your client.

Record this information in a G-Doc or spreadsheet so you have it and can improve.

Get a testimonial.

Once you know that a client is happy with your work, it can’t hurt to ask for a testimonial.

When do you do this though? Well, you can do it shortly after they happily answer your questions, and/or you could follow up a few months later.

I’d go with the former, instead of the latter, because you’re just starting out and need to get testimonials under your belt ASAP.

The latter is a good option for an established freelancer because they can afford to wait, and you’ll usually get better testimonials this way because you’ll be able to see some quantitative business results directly attributed to the website you designed.

Make it easy for your client. First off, don’t call it a testimonial. Call it something like a short blurb so it sounds easier to do. And if they’re struggling to write it, tell them you’re happy to help and wouldn’t mind drafting it for them.

Whatever you do, make sure it’s a *good* testimonial.

Bad testimonial:

“Lauren is the best WordPress designer ever.”

Good testimonial:

“Lauren came to this position with so many ideas and enthusiasm that I just let her do her thing, and I often found myself learning something new from her. I highly recommend Lauren for any new endeavor as she is more like an energetic entrepreneur who can build your business.”
According to Paul, good testimonials follow one of three formats:
  • Before-and-after: The changes your client experienced from your work.
  • Results: The quantifiable results they achieved from your work.
  • Value: The unexpected value they received from your work.

It’s good to collect these testimonials in one place so you have them when you need them.

Pro Tip: Ask your client for a testimonial on LinkedIn, and then just copy and paste that testimonial on your website.