Design Questionnaires and How I Use Them

Design Questionnaires + How I Use Them | Lemon and the Sea: How I work with clients to create the best design possible.

I've mentioned before that I use design questionnaires to help me create a visual brand that fits my client's message and purpose. This is the most important step in my design process, as every design decision is based on these questionnaires.

I have different questionnaires based on the project.

Because I offer a variety of packages, I use four different questionnaires. That way, a client who only needs a logo doesn't have to answer questions about how their website needs to work. Each of these questionnaires targets a different area of the design process, though sometimes the questions may overlap. They are also focused on helping my client to really dig deep into their business, message, audience and purpose. I've found that this helps my client as much as it helps me because taking the time to answer all the questions and think about what they really wants gives them clarity.

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My four questionnaires:

  • Business + Brand: These questions are targeted to help you explain what makes your business unique, especially in crowded markets. It also asks about your ideal client and how you reach and engage with them. Your answers help me to target your visual brand to this audience and to the "why" behind your business.
    • Who is your ideal client?
    • How do you connect with your ideal client?
    • What are your business values?
    • What do you do that no one else does?
    • How is your process unique?
    • What are your big business goals?
    • Why do your clients love working with you?
  • Design + Style: This is the one questionnaire that I give to everyone (and the one you can get for free by becoming a VIP!) Your answers here help me to create a visual brand that is uniquely you and targeted to your ideal audience and message. I focus on helping you stand out and communicate what your business is really about instead of just following what's trendy.
    • What feeling do you want your brand to have?
    • How do your current visuals make you feel? How do you want to feel?
    • What 10 words describe the brand you want?
    • What do you want your new brand to accomplish?
    • Who are your competitors?
  • Website + Layout: This questionnaire is for my website design clients. It helps me get an idea of what you want to include on your website and how it needs to function. This is especially helpful for clients who don't have a website, but want to get started building an online presence. Since I design on Squarespace, it's easy for me to add different pages and functions for different clients. This questionnaire also gives me a good place to start when choosing a template.
    • What pages should be included?
    • Do you need a sidebar? What should go on it?
    • What features do you want on your home page?
    • What are three sites you think function well?
    • Do you want to include a blog?
  • Client Workflow: This is a much more practical questionnaire that helps me to understand your process. For service or product based businesses, I need to understand how your clients find you, get in touch, and how you work with them. This helps me to design a website that makes this flow easy and natural.
    • How do most clients find you?
    • What is the first thing they do on your site?
    • When they want to work with you, where do they go?
    • What do you create to keep in touch? (client page, dropbox folder, etc.)
    • How do they receive the final product?

Each of these questionnaires has a specific purpose, but they work together to help me create the brand and website that you really want and that matches your brand and message.

Why do I use questionnaires (and give homework)?

I think that the word homework can be scary now that most of us are done with school. (I still have nightmares about forgetting to turn something in.) My homework isn't graded or judged, though. I give these questionnaires to clients after we've agreed to work together and have them fill everything out before we start talking about design.

I've found that using questionnaires at the very beginning of the design process helps my clients to clarify what they need and what they like visually. It takes time to answer all of the questions thoughtfully, but the effort always pays off because then I can get a good idea of where we're starting and what the ideal outcome is for each project. I don't believe that one size fits all - you may need something totally different than someone else - and each project I take on is unique because the person behind it is unique.

Questionnaires are also a reference point for me during a project. It keeps the design on track without me having to call or email with questions all the time. I don't need to run every decision by the client because I already know what they need and what they're looking for. If I ever have a question about a certain color or the spelling of a name, I know exactly where to find it.

How I use Pinterest

Along with the questionnaires, I have my clients create a secret Pinterest board at the beginning of each project. I tell them to pin images that look and feel like the brand they want. It especially helpful when they fill in the description section with exactly what they like about each images and why.

By combining the questionnaires and the Pinterest board, I get a really clear idea of what my client needs and is drawn to for their brand. Not only do I get the descriptive words, but I also get to see what that means for them visually. I then use both of these as reference as I work and to come back to if the project starts to get off track.

Want to get some clarity on your own design?

You can download the Design + Style Questionnaire I use with all my clients. Set aside some time and really go through it question by question to get a real sense of what your brand is all about and how that looks to you and your audience.

Need some more help?

If you're ready to update your visual brand, but you don't want to DIY it (or if you've tried to do it on your own and you're ready to hand it off to a professional), check out my services. And if you want to work together, but you're not seeing exactly what you need, send me an email. I'd love to hear about your brand and what you want to accomplish!