This is a snarky view of the truth about who really influences clients about their decision-making process. In particular, I often hear from clients of smaller businesses new to the web, “My son took a look at the site and said…,” or “Let me see what so-and-so thinks” about the navigation of a site. the mid-sized and enterprise client version is “the marketing department says”, or “the IT department thinks”. This is not to say that every client is unsophisticated, or mistrustful. Some of them hide their doubts by saying, “let me review this”, while they run to Google the terms “wireframe,” “user experience” and “below the fold.” New terminology, and an unknown way of doing business is, naturally, frightening to any normally-confident professional.
There are the clients who are ready to pull the trigger and have the site launch, until someone has asked them about adding more text, another button, another navigation tab. Who is this someone? Perhaps it’s a colleague, a long-term professional friend who knows their business. Or the consultant who is advising them on another aspect of their business, who’s looking at the site with fresh eyes, but has no knowledge of the goals set in the brief about the purpose and desired outcomes for the site.
That’s when it’s time to pull out the notes, the wireframes, the sketches, the sitemap, the doodles and brainstorming images you created with the client. Review the personas you have created as the target audience, play “squint at the screen” to show the client how much is really visible and what matters when a new user lands on the site.
Tell your client’s story to improve your influence
Give your client every opportunity to air their fears that the site won’t do well, or seems different than what they imagined it would look like. Learn and understand their story, as they become the owner and publisher of a web site, a mobile app, or a participant in a social network. Create the story of a successful experience for a new user coming to their site, and another story of an experience user returning to their site. Show them why that person would send the link to your client’s URL to a friend.
Be prepared and know the story of your client’s site. Your confidence that you’ve done your work properly and professionally, that you’ve covered all of the goals, whether coming from the perspective of branding, marketing, or sales, should be the strongest influencer on your client. If it’s not, review, refresh, and reboot.
Mindmap created using iThoughtHD on the iPad. To grab a copy of the Mindmap click on the image below: