It is best to assume nothing in relationships. It’s quite easy to make assumptions. Though, they are all too easily off the mark. 🤦🏼♂
That’s why onboarding is so important in my process when working with a new client, whether that’s an agency, a company, or the client directly.
Whether it’s communicated in an email, over a phone call, in person, or via a page on your website, I’ve learnt that it’s worth the effort at the beginning to clarify a few important things
- Tell the client how they can expect to work with you
- How will you communicate
- What channels will you use?
- How often will you provide updates, or be reachable?
- What are the deadlines involved?
- Not just for you as the web developer/designer but also that the client may have – providing content, or login access for example
- Exactly what are whose responsibilities?
- This may seem obvious, but especially when coming in to work with an agency or new team – where you’re not serving the client directly – can lead to confusion.
- Perhaps you’re collaborating or providing part of a deliverable, then knowing who’s responsible for each part becomes very important. Design, development, hosting, client communication etc
- When will work start?
- And when will it end? I’ve had one case where the contract end date was written down, but not the start. Our conversations implied that work was to start immediately, though when sending an invoice, the client was shocked to have been charged for those initial days
- What is chargeable?
- Are you billing by the hour, the day, or for the whole project deliverable? In that case, you better have exactly what will be delivered in the statement of work or contract, as scope creep could lead to your profit being eaten away by little amendments here and there, support late at night or on weekends etc
It can feel a little awkward at first to directly address these questions, but that becomes easier with practice. And it makes a world of difference for both you and your clients in the long run, so, assume nothing in a new relationship and set the tone early
Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying statements, and to set boundaries. These things help to establish you as a professional who knows what they are doing.