Questions to ask your client before agreeing to work together with their in-house design team

by Andrejs Bundzs

Today, many Mobile and Web development companies have their UI/UX designers ready to face and provide solutions and expertise to different kinds of problems or weak spots a business might have from the perspective of IT development. According to clients’ needs and demands, these kinds of experts can solve issues ranging from highly complex IT challenges to the product or web design improvements and solutions.

At Thinkitive, we are always ready to dive in and tackle any kinds of UX issues a prospective client might have. Whether it be a task, a project or even a huge system, we are ready to provide in-depth analysis and expertise in solving it.

Although, what to do in a case where, for instance, before the project begins the client says: 

“We have our own designer (or a design team) and your company should just code front- end, and back-end for it”. 

This is a huge deal, because taken that there are now two separate and at the same time equally important teams working on the same project, we are exposed to higher risk of failure or occurrence of mistakes. In the end, the client might blame only you for not meeting the deadlines or simply for the fact that the product does not perform as the client had expected. 

No hate towards designers here, we do respect your job! There are many business owners/stakeholders who believe that a Graphic designer can design a mobile app or a website, which, as you may know, is totally different from designing a logo or illustration. I’m of course not saying they cannot. Certainly, there are very talented graphic designers who can do it, but there are problems that might arise and significantly affect the end result of a project. 

Therefore, here are 4 things we have compiled, based on our own experience, that we suggest asking the prospective designer team, before accepting to jointly work on a project:

Although, before we begin, find out what does the client mean by designer?

The design field is diverse and has many sub-branches. Most likely the client will not know the difference between a Graphic designer, UI designer, UX designer, Product designer, Interaction designer and so on. The client might think about design as simply something beautiful and visually appealing, that's it. 

So, what exactly should you be asking your client?

1)Did the designers provide wireframes?

If the answer is "YES": 

This is a very good first sign. Creating wireframes is not expensive and in case you do have them it is very easy to do prototyping afterwards. Every UI/UXproject has to begin with wireframing - building the very basic skeleton of your site, this will help the stakeholders understand how the product is going to look, feel and work like.

Whereas for developers, wireframes are ben
eficial in getting to know the basic structure (layout) and understand the scale and direction of the project. A well done wireframing will certainly ease the prototyping process and assure a rather successful conduct of usability testing.


2)Did the designer/design team ask questions about the products' operational goals? 

If the answer is "YES": 

This means they have gathered information about the product itself, its’ business goals and also the product owners' goals. It is a good sign that you will be working with a great designer or design team that cares for the outcome and solutions for the most substantial cornerstones and aspects of the project. 

Without questioning and examining all facets of the product the designer/design team will not  understand what is essential and necessary to meet the business’ goals and solve the potential users’ problems and needs. If there is a failure in this very basic step, it puts to risk all components and participants of the project, including you.

3)Has the designer/design team ever worked with any Mobile/Web projects?

If the answer is "YES": 

Experience with Mobile/Web design is very crucial in landing an outstanding Web or Product design project. There are designers who do not even know how to export the assets in a correct manner, and this can cause your app/website to look hideous and even ugly.

Understanding the Web design or Mobile app UI guidelines is very important. If the guidelines are not respected and followed-by, it makes the work for the developer much more complicated and time-consuming. This is simply for the fact that developers cannot use built-in UI objects.

So, in case the designers’ forwarded asset (object) is sloppy and does not comply with the standard, the developer would need to create a custom one from scratch. As a result, the costs of the project significantly increase by not only adding in more work but also having to prolong the deadlines by, unfortunately - making the project lag behind the desired schedule.

4)And in case the design team has worked on a Mobile/Web project before, is the created product performing as expected? Are the users satisfied?
If "YES":

It means the design team has spent some good time doing research and testing. It is very important to test the design, because - what feels right on the computer screen can feel totally wrong on a mobile device. Also, by testing, we can see all the edge cases where the user could do something unexpected and therefore - mitigate potential failures in design. So, successful previous experience is definitely a green light!

To sum up:

1)Do not hesitate to ask questions. This will decrease the probability of failure due to miscommunication.

2)In case you notice any kind of error or inaccuracy, inform the project manager immediately. You do not want to be blamed for what is not your fault. Also, keep track of the tasks done and those ahead of you. You want to respect the budget and the deadlines set. 

3)Be proactive. Do not be afraid to make suggestions, provide critique or expert advice. Your client will definitely value your interest and dedication towards landing the project in the best way possible. 


Simply put, all you need to do is train your team to be reactive and agile. These skills are in very high demand and they will surely help you keep your clients happy and land more and more successful projects.