I recently decided to organise myself, both personally and with regards to my business. As part of the positive change, I decided to streamline my business and introduce some much-needed process. There was a learning curve ahead but if I didn't (and don't) continually look for ways to improve I fear I will "get left behind".
As with any change, resistance will only make it harder to deal with so I fully embraced the fact I did not have a "proper process" and thus made work harder for myself and to some extent for my clients. Knowing this and admitting it was half the victory.
In this particular post I want to cover a process I knew existed but one I hadn't strictly implemented or perfected. Client homework.
What is client homework/branding homework?
In the time, I have been freelancing (always part-time to date) I have always asked my clients for their "ideas" - what they like in terms of designs - any websites that tickle their fancy, any particular styles, colours, etc. The majority of the time they would send me links to websites, and use words to describe their "vision" or colours they preferred - (Client: "I'm thinking red, like burgundy red").
I would then take this information - usually spread between numerous emails, written notes and potentially a skype message and make the most of trying to work out what they are thinking. Crazy stuff. It worked but it was a mess. a hot mess.
Then as I began streamlining and bringing in some process. I soon realised that my hot crazy mess of a process is a dirty version of "client homework".
There I said it. CLIENT HOMEWORK. It's not as scary as I first thought it would be and its there to help me and my clients. So what is client homework? After doing a bit of research and reading, it's exactly what I was doing but with some fine tuning. It's sometimes also called branding homework.
What's involved with Client homework?
As with any kind of homework, it is work that is done in preparation for something. In this particular aspect, the homework is set by me, the designer and given to the client before I start their project. It involves a small task on Pinterest - which let's be honest, is more fun then tasking! It also involves answering a bunch of tailored questions, depending on the project. So if they are signed up to the Startup Package - which involved branding, and Squarespace development - then all the questions are tailored to ask specific questions about their mission and vision for their brand and website. It also gets my clients thinking about the nuts and bolts of their startup and 0can really help them figure stuff out for themselves too!
So in actual fact, what seems like mundane homework, is actually really useful mini tasks! You may ask, why is it so important!
Why it's important to have Client homework
Client homework is good for us both, but more to the point, it is important for a few reasons, here are 4.
1 | Makes life easier for you, the client
Rather than sending me the information I need from you in emails, or a Skype call or over the phone (which leads to me scribbling down all the important details) answering the client homework questions in one hit keeps all the information in one nice place. It makes it easier for you to tell me about your business, your vision, and your requirements in a simple straight forward method
2 | Makes life easier for me, the designer
If it's easy for you to tell me about your requirements, it's easier for me to understand them. For me, being able to open one document, and one tab for the Pinterest board, rather than gathering my notes, the emails and trying to remember the conversation on Skype is so much easier!
3 | Makes you look more professional
My client homework is branded, therefore, my clients know just by looking at it that I mean business. I'm not here to willy-nilly set up your brand and Squarespace website, I'm here to make sure it's done well and done professionally.
4 | Makes the processes more streamlined
The best thing about client homework is that it streamlines my process. It makes it quicker to send information to my clients and receive it all back smoothly.
What do you think of client homework? Have you set your clients homework in the past? What are your thoughts on client homework?