My Design Process (Part I)

My Design Process Part I | Lemon and the Sea: How i find clients and start the design process

As a service-based business, I need to have a process in place to bring on new clients that easy and convenient. Every designer approaches this differently, but this is the process that I follow.

How I Find Clients

Most of my clients actually find me, either through my blog or through social media. I post consistently on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. The biggest struggle is bringing someone from social media back to my blog and then to my services. While I'm still working on improving this part of the process, I've found that being helpful and creating great content always attracts people to my work.

Service and About Pages

This are two of the most important pages on my website for potential clients. When someone thinks that they might like to work with me, whether they find me through my blog, a past client, or social media, they're most likely going to check out my services and packages. They may also want to learn a little more about me and how I can help them. I'm very clear on both my Service page and my About page about what I do and who I can help. Both pages also have buttons that link interested clients to the next step.

Client Guide

Because I received a lot of emails from people asking about specific services and what is included, I created a Client Interest document that outlines each step of my process, answers some frequently asked questions, and explains exactly what each item in the packages means for them. This document is great because it's an easy way for people to get to know a little more about how I work without waiting for an email response from me. It has has a link to the next step.


Client Questionnaire

This is a pretty basic questionnaire that interested clients answer to give me an idea of what they're looking for and how I can help. Questions include:

  • Package
  • Timeline
  • Current Website URL
  • Title and Industry
  • What You Want to Accomplish
  • Ideal Outcome
  • Referral Source

By reading the answers to these questions, I can get a good idea of what a client needs and if our design styles and working methods will be a good fit.

Introductory Call

Once someone submits the form above, they'll be taken to my calendar to schedule a time to talk with me. I set this up through Calendly because it's easy to create different types of events with different time lengths and it integrates with my Google Calendar, so I won't have clients scheduling to meet with me while I'm on vacation.

These calls are really important, both to me and to my potential client, because they are the best way us to get to know one another. We discuss their answers to the questionnaire, talk about working together, and their design needs. I'm able to get an idea of how long the project will take and any extras they might need.

I like asking a few questions that help both me and the client get clear on our expectations:

  • What was the best working relationship you've had?
  • What types of pages do you need on a website?
  • Who do you serve and how do you reach them?
  • What is unique about your process and your work?

If someone tells me that they want to be involved in every step of the design process and need to approve each change as it occurs, I'll know that going in. If they need a store set up on their site, I can include that in my process and give a better timeline.

Custom Quote & Contract

Generally, I don't send out a quote until I have this call, unless the request is something I do often, like a logo design. Since my packages vary and each business has different needs, I like to quote based on what best fits them. I also send over an Estimated Design Timeline, so they have an idea of how long the process will take and hen they'll be expected to give feedback. Once they receive and approve the quote, I'll send over contract (through HelloSign) and an invoice for the deposit.

Client Page & Document Folder

To keep everything organized and to make it easier for the client to stay up to date, I create a Client Page for each project. This is a password protected page on my website that I updated at each step of my process. Here, I link to the contract and other important documents, upload images and sketches, and keep the client updated on the next steps.

I also set up a Google Docs folder for each client. This is where I upload documents, keep design questionnaires, and can receive any documents or photos I need. I share this folder with the client, so they have access to the folder and can edit everything in it. They can fill out all the relevant design questionnaires for me to see, upload any images I need to add, and post any updates they have to their needs.

Next Steps

In the coming weeks, I'll be walking you through my design process and show you how I work with my clients to create a visual brand that is consistent with their message and audience. You'll get to check out my design questionnaires, how I create mood boards, and how I design all of the brand elements. If you're ready for more right now, you can read all about how I choose a color palette here.