How to take a web design brief from a client

When you’re meeting a new client, first impressions are important to establish a good relationship and to be sure that you’ll be a good fit for each other. At Tonic, we start every new client enquiry with a video call (or an in-person meeting, if possible) so that we can get to know a potential client, and pick their brains about the problems they need to be solved and how we can help.

Tom Piggott

January 9, 2023

If you’re just beginning your freelance or design business journey, here’s an insight into our process to help you get started and look professional from the get-go.

How do I book an intro meeting with a web design client?

One of the most frustrating things about setting up a new client meeting is the back-and-forth trying to find a time that works for everyone on your team and everyone on their team. That’s why we use an online scheduling tool.

We use You Can Book Me, but there are a lot of other great solutions out there, such as Calendly. This allows us to sync our calendars to the system and for clients to book in at a time that suits them. By adding this instead of just a contact form on our website, we saw a large increase in leads.

We have this link easily accessible from our website but we also have it saved in our internal Notion board so we can email it out quickly when needed. Below you can see what the client sees when they open the link and how easy it is for them to find and book a time that works for them.

What should I ask a new web design client?

This is an opportunity for you to get an idea of your potential client’s technical, budgetary and timeline requirements so that you can scope and cost the project as accurately as possible. At the same time, you’re prompting the client to think more closely about exactly what it is they need so you’re not surprised with an unplanned (and unpaid-for) feature halfway through the project.

Keep the meeting short - 30 minutes should be plenty. You don’t want to take up too much of their time, or yours if you don’t think you’ll be a good fit and you can always have a more in-depth discovery session once a contract’s been signed.

This isn’t an exhaustive list and, of course, you can add your own as needed…

  1. Tell us about your company, why you need a new website and what you’re hoping to achieve with it
    This gives you a bit of context and insight into potential design solutions
  2. What features and functionality does the website need, like a shop or a member's area? Do you have a technical wish list?
    This is important to understand early in order to give an accurate quote and timeline
  3. Is there a specific timeline we need to work to?
    You can give an indication of how long design and build can take so that you can both agree on a realistic deadline
  4. How are you planning on growing your business in the future, so that we can take that into consideration and help get you there?
  5. What’s the main call to action for the website? What do you really want people to do when they are on the site?
  6. What’s the secondary call to action?
    This could be something like helping a customer better understand the product or to qualify the company's reputation by showing a history of happy customers.
  7. What do you think people are trying to do/find out when they come to your website?
  8. Do you have any direct competitors and who are they?
    Having a clear idea of competitors early in the process allows you to research them and benchmark against them
  9. Are there any sites that you like the look of and would like us to draw inspiration from? What is it you like about these sites?
  10. Do you have a budget set aside for this?

Why ask about the budget in the first meeting?

This is such a valuable question to ask and I can’t believe we didn’t start asking it sooner. Sometimes the potential client’s budget expectations don’t match the level of work or quality we like to produce, at which point we can explain our experience and expertise, why good design takes time and the value of investing properly in their digital presence. If, after this, they can’t (or won’t!) adjust their expectations and budget we can direct them to more affordable solutions elsewhere.

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