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A friend of mine has put me in touch with one of his co-workers who wants a website for his business. He simply requested that we meet up in person the next day. I have no idea what to discuss during this meeting and in what order. Most of my knowledge of freelancing so far is of the stages to go through after the contract as been signed.

I have absolutely no idea where to go with this meeting and what to talk about first. I know I need to cover things such as my process for making a website and what he needs so I can give him a quote, but I'm not sure in what order and in what fashion to proceed?

A very detailed answer that outlines all the things I need to cover with this guy tomorrow would be so very much appreciated. I would also use this information in all my future interaction with clients. I'm panicking at the moment, and I really need this cleared up.

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6 Answers 6

up vote 7 down vote accepted

First off, calm down. Nothing good comes from those who panic, and don't think things thoroughly!

Now that you're calmed down, I want you to Ask a Duck. Pretend your duck is the client, and they are asking you questions about a website. What seems important? Write it down! What seems like an asinine request? Ignore it! You may look silly, but I promise it will help!

For websites specifically, I always have the client be prepared for the meeting. I let them know that my time is valuable as well (never leave out that part!), and that they only get one hour of free consultation to a website with me, so it's cheaper for them to come up with the general guidelines. On paper, with a pen or pencil, they should have a rough layout of what they want, and how the pages should flow (menu wise or link wise). They should be able to describe the type of content they want on each page.

Now, do they need to know the colour scheme already? Have all the stock photos? Not yet. That can come later. Your job is to understand how they want the website to work, then estimate how long it would take. But, have them do the most work with doing a quick design first on paper. DO NOT HAVE THEM DO IT IN MICROSOFT WORD! They will likely spend too much time on it, and it will make it harder for you (as the designer) to implement it from a Word document. Mostly, it will take them too much time.

Tell the client that you need this BEFORE you meet, so they are prepared, and have an idea of what it is they want. The first meeting is supposed to be quick, so visuals help. It also cuts down on you doing all the drawing, and just hoping that the client likes it!

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This is a sales meeting. It's for you to find out what he wants, for him to get a sense of who you are, and for both of you to decide whether his requirements and your skills are a good match and whether you want to work with one another. To that extent, it's a little bit social, a little bit techy, and a little bit business.

Your goal for the meeting should be to come away with at least enough of an idea of what he wants to have a gut feel for how realistic his ongoing requests are likely to be, enough sense of what he want that you can draft a preliminary design or two for a next meeting, and ultimately, whether you want this project.

His goals should be to get a feel for your competence, your ability to create his project within budget and deadlines, and that you'll be able to support him as issues come to light or he needs enhancements.

Don't forget the social part of the meeting. Whether he's aware of it or not, he's not just looking for a tech-head; he's also sizing you up as a someone who's reasonable to work with and he can depend on.

So for tomorrow, you don't need an outline as much as you want to bring your plain old likeable, reliable self. Your competence will come through as you get to chatting about weather, your families, sports teams or whatever else grabs you or him. If you can shift your venue for this meeting to a less formal environment, f/ex, a coffee shop, it should help you two get going.

Does this sound like a first date? You might try thinking about it that way.

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To add to Luke's reply. Don't panic! Nothing big will happen tomorrow :).

Go to this meeting and gather information about website this person wants. You will NOT have to give any quote tomorrow nor you should do.

You will NOT have to talk much tomorrow, cause it's his idea. Just listen, and ask questions if something is not clear.

Then go back home, and try to set the price, or arrange another meeting where you will ask more details.

If convenient, think of the best website you did, but it's not necessary. You can email him list of your cool websites.

And don't forget to take all contact details :).

Good luck and come back here reporting if we helped you!

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The best thing you can do is listen as much as you can.
Don't interrupt, don't ask stupid questions and avoid forcing a certain tone for the meeting.

The first thing you need get from this first encounter is what the client want's exactly. In general (80% of the times) they expect solutions that have nothing in common with what they really need and here you come into the picture. But, the tricky thing is they actually know what they want (yes, I know, I contradict myself but it's true).
The client has no clue about how the solution will look at the end and because of this your role is to listen and see how far your client imagination (expectations) can go.

At the end of the meeting, make of the list with what you understood and ask the client if this is what he/she wanted you to learn. If not, ask the client to make thing more clear. When this happens, close the meeting by proposing what should be done next and by making the client to engage by committing to some sort of terms, conditions and responsibilities.

What the client needs to learn about you is that you can solve his problems. Not what kind of website (application, technologies, etc. will get) or other detail insignificant; just that you are the solution is searching for.

Good luck.

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First of all you should ask him/her several prominent questions:

  • What type of website do you want?

  • How much time-space do you lend?

  • How much is your total budget?

  • How far you prospect of the future of this website goes?

Though you might already be aware of what s/he wants, nevertheless you have to get his/her very detailed ideas, since those ideas should pass your filter of time/budget/skills.

It is worth mentioning that it is better to not be so much passionate, be realistic since you might lose the thread and then give him/her suggestions which are out of your scope, such as " It is better also to add a form like this, or like that". Of course, I mean any suggestion which is out of the scope agreed upon.

Good Luck.

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I completely disagree. How does the client even know what types of website exist? what is time-space? As the dev, you give the price and if the client can't meet it, then see which features can be removed. The client cannot predict the future, and every client thinks from the beginning that he will be the next Google. –  dotancohen Jun 19 at 6:07
    
@dotancohen Obviously he requires a loan of Spacetime continuum from a prospective client as a retainer before commencing on a project and he wants to know how much they're willing to provide. I'm not sure how that would be accomplished, so on the surface it may seem to be somewhat of an extreme request, but as they say: "you get what you pay for". –  coburne Jun 19 at 14:57
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Seems like you are too panic. First of all calm down. Your client is not a giant who will eat you. lol! You should trust in your abilities. You should improve your communication. In my opinion your portfolio matters a lot but with that your way to present your work matters same as well. You should dress up in professional way. Read some good articles of how to dress up in a meeting and how to act in a meeting. These are all general thing I am mentioning here. As all other people are guiding you the technical aspects, I want to guide something different.

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