A recent revelation led me to start designing something I've pictured in my head for awhile: a client dashboard on osegard.com. Once I began, I realized there were some small but serious pain points in the client/designer relationship that I could fix with the dashboard.
Maintaining clear and consistent communication between myself and a client takes effort and finesse. Communication via e-mail is the standard, but a lot of things can be lost in translation and precious time is often wasted waiting for clarification via e-mail. For example, client approval in the form of a typed e-mail is only clear if I clearly ask for the go-ahead, and that adds an additional link to a chain of e-mail messages.
Basecamp is a platform that was made to solve this problem, and it does a pretty good job of cleaning up communications. Though in my experience, Basecamp has one downfall: there is a learning curve for clients. Since it is built to address a wide audience with many applications, the interface is riddled with links, tools and information.
Without trying to reinvent the wheel, I plan to solve the communication problem in my own way by addressing my design process specifically. Ultimately, it should smoothen project communication, speed up the design process, and be easy to use.
Design takes time and a client can often feel uninformed about how their project is going. I try my best to keep in contact about a project's progress but it can take a lot of energy away from the project itself. A dashboard solution to this will be to allow me post images of progress AND indicate milestones that have been passed that may not have deliverables associated with them.
For example: when designing logos, I start with a creative brainstorm that uses words and symbols to explore different ideas, and I normally don't show this to my clients because it can be confusing (see: New Work: OPOS Tours & Travel for brainstorm/sketch example). Even though I don't share my brainstorms, I do want my clients to know that the project is progressing, and this is where the dashboard will keep the client informed without adding more e-mail correspondence to my tasks.
Freshbooks is my current accounting application and I love it. It solved many of the invoicing pain points I used to have, but one remains: invoice links can get lost in clients' inboxes. Naturally, invoices are sent via e-mail, but if the client loses the e-mail they have to contact me to resend it. The dashboard will contain links to all invoices, current and past, saving the client time when they pay or download a copy for taxes.
I've already mentioned deliverables during the design process but end-of-project deliverables have their own challenges. If a client loses their copy or has hired new employees who need their own copies, I would prefer not to have to upload and e-mail the files again. This can easily be fixed by hosting the files on the dashboard.
How-to files fall under the same umbrella. Whether I need to show a client how to add an e-mail account to their G-mail or log-in to the back-end of their website, How-to files save time for both myself and the clients. The less time I need to spend teaching, the less time the client needs to spend waiting for me to teach them. Hosting these How-to files in the dashboard will allow easy access for clients and any of their employees.
These are just some of the client/designer problems I'm addressing in my Design Dashboard. If you've worked with me before and are interested in having access to your own Design Dashboard, please contact me! Fellow freelancers, if you're interested in using something like this in your own practice, contact me as well!