How to Read your Client’s Mind and Design Products They’ll Buy

Author: Kristen Dettoni, Design Pool

Part of my job at Design Pool is working one on one with customers to develop designs that fit their needs and ultimately sell! It is often challenging to figure out precisely what they want. Especially when they simply just ask me for “more good designs.” Regardless of what you design or who your client is, I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing I could read their minds. Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what they’re looking for so you could present the perfect solution?

Since reading my client’s mind is (unfortunately) not an option and my Magic Eight Ball has failed me, I’ve developed a strategy for figuring out what they are looking for.  This involves asking a lot of questions. So, what questions should you ask your clients instead of reading their minds?

Here are five questions I always ask my clients to get inside their head and design a product that sells.

Tarot Card Mockup by Yeven_Popov -
Can I see some examples?

Most clients are looking for their next bestseller. They have a product that sold well and are looking for something to follow it up and do as well or better. Ask them to show you examples of previous bestsellers and possibly something physical like a swatch to bring back to the studio. Snapping a photo on your phone can be fast and easy, just be sure you have something in the shot for a sense of scale. Analyze these samples and look for commonality. Also, ask your client what the feedback from their customers has been about these successful examples and designs.

Juice Glass Bottles Set by Macrovector -
Do you have any color references?

Color plays a massive role in making a sale; in fact, I firmly believe color can make or break the sale. Designers sometimes take for granted that we can visualize what a design will look like in another color. But there are plenty of people out there who need to see it with their own eyes. To make sure you’re showing your client options in a color they can understand, ask ahead of time what their bestselling colors have been and if they can give you references for those colors.

What do your customers think?

You can learn a lot about how to approach a project by asking your clients about their customers. Creating for your client is one thing, but if they don’t do well with your work, they might not be hiring you again. What are their clients telling them about trends in the market or their own bestsellers?

Pallet with samples of different colors by Olegdoroshin -
What do you want the customer experience to be?

It’s your job to figure out the specifics of the product and make the technical and creative design decisions. Rather than asking your clients what they want something to look like, ask about how they want it to be experienced.  What do they want the customer experience to be with the product?

Businessman using thin line customer satisfaction rating by Sebdeck -
Can you give me some feedback?

As you go through the process, ask for feedback along the way to avoid surprises. This will help you feel confident you’re working in the right direction. If you have worked with this client before, ask about the results from your previous projects. Clients often remember the winners and forget about the losers, yet knowing which items were not successful can be incredibly valuable in the design process.  It can be helpful to know this information before you get started.

Whether you work for a large firm, a small start-up, or freelance for multiple clients, knowing how to work toward what your client wants will ultimately lead to healthy relationships and mutual success for years to come.

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