At The Brick Factory, we liken the process of building websites to that of building a house. In both cases, building something truly great is predicated on establishing a strong foundation on which to build. For us in the web development world, the foundation for any new project is forged not with brick and mortar but by establishing client rapport and setting project goals in the initial client consultation.
We place a lot of stock in our initial client consultations and wanted to share a few helpful hints that we use to lead successful initial consultations.

Do Your Homework

We love initial client consultations because it is the first opportunity we have to flex our creative might and provide innovative ideas for the future of our new client’s web program. In order to think outside of the box of your client’s current web program, you have to know the box you are working with – so do your homework.

I’m with you, everyone dreads homework. With that being said, wipe away those horrifying memories of 10th grade trigonometry homework and take the time to learn about the client’s organizational structure and mission, what audience they are targeting, and how their web program is currently operating before the initial consultation. By doing so, you will be able to be an insightful advisor from day-one and set the tone for the overall project.

Ask the Right Questions

The most important factor in facilitating a successful initial consultation is asking the right questions to nail down the goals and scope of a new website. At the Brick Factory, we have developed and continue to tweak a standard question list that we ask all clients to ensure that we fully understand the direction that the website needs to take. Through asking the right questions, one should be able to determine the overall goals of the new site, how the website will be hosted, the overall direction of site design and structure, and the process that will be used for managing the redesign.
Always remember, asking the right questions is worth nothing if you aren’t actually listening to the answers.

Define Success

Organizations we work with often have no established goals for the new website we are building them. It is imperative to define what metrics, whether it be website visitors, donations online, or email subscriptions, are most important to the client’s overall organizational mission.

What metrics will define whether a new website is successful or not are important to discuss on day one because these ultimately guide the structure, design, and strategy of the new website. Remember – You can’t carve a path to success if you don’t define what success is, so be sure to discuss strategy from the get-go.

Set Expectations

One of the keys to a successful client/web development firm relationship is setting mutual expectations and then delivering on them. During the initial consultation, be sure to walk the new client through what they can expect from you in terms of the website development schedule, budget, and project management. Equally as important, be sure to define what is expected from the client in order to build a world class website that fits their needs.

While these four concepts are very simple in nature, by following them you will be bound to start every new project on a strong foundation.