Ep. 3 Three common client onboarding mistakes to avoid


I have definitely been guilty of these mistakes when I was first starting out as a Designer and specifically with Shopify Website Builds. The fall out of not onboarding my clients can be felt all throughout the project especially when it comes to the extra time you will spend, the scope creep you will experience and the anxiety you might feel as well.

When I first started working with clients, because I only had limited self-taught knowledge, I lacked the confidence or the know-how to gather the right information and ask the right questions, so often times I would just be happy enough the client accepted my proposal, and missed the most important aspect of the project phase, and that’s the onboarding process.

Your onboarding phase starts when you jump on a call to the client, This is your first opportunity to get a 360 view of the Project, and your Client. If this isn’t done the right way, you risk scope creep, working with a Client you don’t gel with, losing money, not charging enough and really not having a great time.

So here are my top 3 common client onboarding mistakes to avoid.

You don’t determine how prepared the client is

The number of times I have missed this step is quite a few and I have paid for it, the fall out for not determining this, is a project that lays dormant for 12 months, a project that looks half done when you launch, and it really does suck your creativity.

The reason is this:

You want to ensure the client knows what they need to provide you, you can’t design out a site with stock imagery and 1 page of written copy. A client who is prepared or willing & committed to organising a Professional photoshoot, have all of their copy ready to go, and can provide you with all the necessary strategies around shipping, terms and conditions etc is a client you want to work with. Some clients genuinely lack the understanding of how much goes into crafting an ecommerce website, and this is your opportunity to determine this and provide some education around it.

You don’t establish boundaries & expectations

Like any Design Project, there is always the risk you will take on a Client who is great from first meet, but unbeknownst to you, has crazy high expectations and enters the project partnership expecting you do provide unlimited revisions, include thousands of dollars of customisations, and expects they can call you anytime day or night to dictate to you about the project.

Forgetting to include what your boundaries and expectations are, and also not being specific about the inclusions on the project proposal will leave you wide open for not a great time…

How to establish those boundaries and expectations? Asking the right questions plus ensuring you cover these points in your Proposal or welcome pack. Outline as a checklist the roles and responsibilities of both designer and client.

You don’t establish an understanding of the Brand

  • Who are your competitors
  • Who is your ideal audience
  • Where do you expect your traffic to come from (socials, google, advertising)
  • How do want their Brand story told (with the imagery, through their copy, through beautiful custom page designs)

Gaining an understanding of the Brand story and ensuring the client knows the importance of the Brand story as well.

It super important to gain an understanding of the Brand as whole, and the questions to ask might be: