Great client-firm collaboration takes time and practice. It's not always fun and it's not always easy. However, finding and developing this chemistry will help teams build stronger relationships and trust which will ultimately produce more well-rounded products.
This type of collaboration also ensures each party is on the same page and working toward one common goal. Rather than stepping on each others toes and preventing a product from succeeding.
As a client, it's your job to provide timely feedback. As the expert in the industry, your comments, questions and concerns help design and development teams produce higher quality results.
But what do we mean by timely and valuable feedback? Also, when should you be providing this feedback? All the time? Every other day? When asked?
Here are a few tips for providing quality feedback.
Join The Planning Meetings
It's important to join each planning meeting as a client. As the designers and developers discuss the next phase of the project from a technical standpoint, you can weigh in from a business perspective.
Having this perspective can help both designers and developers understand the need for a feature or gain better insight into how your customers might use a given feature on a day-to-day basis.
Keep in mind, it's important to talk. Don't be shy in these meetings. Make sure to speak up and correct any errors you might hear. As the leading expert, you should help to drive feature requirements.
However, make sure to listen to any concerns or suggestions that the designers or developers in the meeting present. While you might have the industry experience, they have the technical experience, and odds are this isn't the first product they have built.
Provide Insightful Design Feedback
I cannot tell you how many times we have heard comments such as, "Looks good" or "I don't really like the colors." While these types of comments might describe how you feel, they don't help provide any insight into your thinking. As a good client, it's your responsibility to explain yourself. Try and follow-up your comments with your reasoning. Why do you like it? Is there some concept we can work into other aspects of the design?
Other the other hand, what about the colors don't you like? What do you feel when you see those colors or what colors do you have in mind?
Additionally, when providing insightful feedback, make sure to read any and all of the documentation a design team has provided you. In fact, do this before looking at a single design. It's extremely important that you understand where the design team is coming from before making your comments based purely on your first impression.
Test Your Product
Lastly, rather than only relying on the design and development team to test your product, ask for access to the working prototype. This will allow you to use and understand the product as it is being built.
While testing the product, note inconsistencies you see or errors in the software. Then you can address these issues during the next planning meeting.
Testing your own product can help you understand your design and development team's process as well as help you better sell your product. As a user of your product, you now know the ins and outs of it, what it does well, and where it falls short. Additionally, it can help you to create a better roadmap for feature development. Knowing what is missing or where the user experience falls short can help improve the final product.
While simple and obvious, these three tips can help you as the client better integrate yourself into another team's system and help you improve your collaboration efforts.