Before jumping into a long-term relationship with a new client, I like to start with a small week or two long onboarding consultancy to test the waters. It’s a low-risk way to introduce our potential client to user-centered design and really see the value in working with us.
It’s also a great way for both parties to ensure the relationship is a good fit.
A quick lesson on user-centered design
At Good Work we practice a design methodology called user-centered design, which is really just a fancy way of saying that all decisions we make during the project process are on behalf of the project’s target audience — which doesn’t always turn out to be the same as our client’s initial requirements. That’s a good thing though, as it ensures we’re making the right thing, not just a thing. And it ensures we’re building something of value for our target audience!
Taking a user-centered design approach means we typically have a chunk of research, early prototyping and validation to do at the start of every project. Yes, our potential client probably already came to us with a specific set of wants and needs, but we have to validate them for ourselves before we can move forward.
While it is common practice in the creative professions to prescribe solutions without fully and accurately diagnosing the problem, in almost every other profession such a sequence would render the professional liable for malpractice.
Blair Enns, The Win Without Pitching Manifesto
The onboarding consultancy process
This whole process of up-front research, validation and using our expertise to figure out the right way forward works as a great, low-risk onboarding project with our potential clients.
Our onboarding consultancy process is a one week project to advise, validate and scope the needs and goals of the potential engagement. We focus on the humans that the project is for — figure out who they are, their experience levels and what they potentially expect to get out of the finished product. We brainstorm and prototype ideas, and come up with a solid plan to make the right thing, a road map to move forward and a prototype to reference for the future of the project, whether that’s with Good Work or another digital agency.
Taking a user-centered approach to our work ensures we’re creating the right digital product or service for our clients. The work involved in our onboarding consultancy needs to be done regardless in order to create a successful digital project, whether during its own project or as the first phase of a larger one, but by unbundling it from our potential primary engagement we can make the purchasing process a lot less daunting for potential clients, and ensure our relationship is a good fit.