As many women already know, communication is key. If I send Patrick to the store without clear expectations, I will end up with two cabbages instead of two heads of lettuce (true story). With design work these miscommunications happen all the time. Designers jump into a project only to realize that what they thought their client wanted is very different for what their client actually wanted. Then they not only end up back to the drawing board, but they have lost trust and credibility.
This is where a detailed questionnaire and design brief come in. By getting essential information up front, before you even begin designing, you will be able to deliver better designs with fewer revisions.
What I Include
At the beginning of my questionnaire I always include a section dedicated to communication. This is where I ask when and how my clients would like to be in touch with me. Some people prefer email, while others prefer a phone call. Plus your client may have a day job and not appreciate getting phone calls throughout the work day. It is easy to respect your clients preferences by simply asking the right questions. A great trick is to have your client list their updated contact information in the questionnaire, that way you will never need to hunt around for it.
The questions you include in the rest of your questionnaire will depend on the specific service you are offering. For my brand and web design clients I have 2 separate questionnaires:
The first questionnaire is dedicated to my clients brand and design preferences. I have them describe what sets their business apart from their competitors and who their ideal customer is. I also ask about their mission statement and business goals. The purpose of this questionnaire is to get a clear picture of where their business is now, and where they want to be. This way I can design and implement solutions that will achieve those goals.
The second is dedicated to my clients web site. This is a very practical questionnaire where I ask what pages they would like to have on their site and what features they need. I also ask for all of the text and images that will be included on each page of the site.
How I Use It
A few weeks before I am scheduled to begin designing for a client, I schedule a meeting with them to review their questionnaire responses and inspiration images. Before the meeting I review their materials and familiarize myself with their business and design goals. I will also make a note of things I need clarification on. During the meeting we finalize design needs and goals. After this initial branding meeting with my client I will take their needs, goals, and inspiration and use that information to write a Creative Brief.
Remember that your questionnaire is a vital tool to help you and your clients. Take the time to write one that reflects your business and services.
Get My Client Questionnaire
If you want to take a peek at the exact questions that I ask my clients, you can download the exact questionnaire that I use.