If you’ve ever taken on a web design, graphic design, or article writing project, then you probably know what it feels like to work on something, submit your amazing work to your clients, only to find out it’s not even close to what they had in mind.

Then you wonder why you wasted all that time when you should have clarified with them as to what their true visions or goals were.  It’s one of the biggest mistakes many aspiring entrepreneurs & freelancers make — assuming they know what their client wants or needs.

If your client agrees to let you design/re-design their site for example, then make sure to gather requirements first.  Know who their ideal customers or clients are; know which colors & fonts they prefer; know exactly what layout they had in mind; know what features they’d like to see implemented; know if they want an easy to manage content management system, so that they can update the content themselves later.

When it comes to delivering value to your clients in the more efficient way possible, then nothing is more valuable then good communication.  It’s actually better to assume that you have no idea what they want –  rather than to assume too much – and keep pressing them until you do know.

Send them an email.  Or better yet, pick up the phone and speak to them about it if you’re not crystal clear.  There’s nothing more time consuming than wasting a month designing a website, only to find out it’s completely different than what they had in mind.

It’s not always your fault though.  I get it.  When you ask some clients they just don’t want to do the work.  They’ll take forever to get back to you on something, or won’t fill out that questionnaire you sent them.  They expect you expect you to magically come up with a perfect design based on some abstract vision in their head.

Don’t fall for this.

They’ll come back and ask you for something completely different when you submit your design or article to them.  It’s better to press them to clarify then it is to spend days, sometimes weeks or months coming up with something, only to find out it’s not what they had in mind.  Make sure to go back and forth with them as much as needed, especially in the initial design stages.

Once that’s complete, then it won’t be as challenging.  But before you move on to the development phase, make it clear to your clients that you cannot make any additional changes to the layout once they agree (with the exception of a fee of course).

Also, whatever you do, make sure to set the terms early on.  Be clear about what you’re going to be able to do for them in the price.  If you don’t, then you risk them coming back at another date and requesting for additional changes to be made.  It’s easy to fall into this trap.

If there’s one thing you can take away from this post it’s to clarify…clarify…clarify!  If you feel you’re on the wrong track, then you probably are.  If your intuition is screaming at you, then you need to listen up.  Pick up the phone or send an email, and ask them to clarify what they mean.  Get specifics.  If you still don’t really get what they’re trying to say, then it’s probably better to find a better way to communicate with them such as meeting them in person, skyping, screensharing, etc.

If you follow this simple advice, you’ll be much better off for doing so.  You won’t waste your energy, time, effort, and money on things that could have been resolved by simply picking up the phone.  I’ve had my share of these “duh” moments myself, but you’d be surprised how many entpreneurs continue to free-style things until it comes back to haunt them.  Don’t be that guy…or gal…and make sure clarify.

As Miguel Angel Ruiz says, “Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.”

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