Design is fun! For that reason it’s hard not to jump right into the creative process right after reading a client brief. The common issue with this, however, is that important points of conversation go unsaid, and the designer ends up doing a lot more work than was originally necessary.
Asking questions saves time and energy. Here are five important client questions to start with before kicking off your next design project.
1. Are there examples in my portfolio you could see as your own logo or design?
Often times, contest invites are meaningless. A client will invite hundreds of designers to cast a wide net. You can weed out clients who don’t actually have specific interest in your style of work by asking them to speak to certain works in your portfolio.
If a client can articulate what attracts them to your style, that is an indication that a contest might be worth your time and that the client is open to engaging in a relationship with you.
2. Do certain letters need to be upper or lowercase?
For many designers this is an “if I had a nickel” question. It’s easy to find yourself in a situation where you’ve put in work only to find out the capitalization is wrong. This is especially painful with custom typography and logotypes.
Spare yourself and ask about capitalization – especially for names like “SkyView”.
3. Do you prefer serif or sans serif?
Design contests often naturally consolidate towards mostly sans serif or serif submissions. Find out which side of the fence to be on ahead of time by asking this simple question.
4. Is there a desired format?
Logotypes, symbols, separate icons, typography…?
99designs has a section where clients can request a certain format, although they don’t always define this. Chances are they might be unfamiliar with the option and it might take a little push on the designer’s end.
A client can quickly realize that a logotype won’t work for their needs and a handful of submissions can get eliminated in the blink of an eye. Don’t fall into that trap. Find out beforehand in a helpful way.
5. Where will this design appear?
Do they need cards, cups, online, letterheads, stamped, signs or something completely different? Any experienced designer knows that the medium often needs to inform the design.
For that reason it can be extremely helpful to know how the design will manifest in the outside world. Getting this information up front has the potential of landing your design much closer to the client’s needs.