Best Practices for More Effective Web Design Presentations

Helpful tips for improving your web design presentations to clients

Man in a presentation meeting
Man in a presentation meeting.

Not all web design skills are technical ones. In addition to a firm grasp of the technical aspects of website design and development, there are also a number of other skills that are very helpful in the support of a successful careers. One of these skills is the ability to effectively present your work to clients.

Unfortunately, many designers are more comfortable behind their computer screen than in front of clients and their presentations suffer because of that discomfort.

By following some best practices, however, you can increase your comfort level and elevate your web design presentations.

Public Speaking Best Practices

Speaking to clients, whether you are kicking off a project or presenting work that you have created during the course of that engagement, is an exercise in public speaking. As such, the best practices that apply to all public speaking opportunities apply here as well. These best practices include:

  • Speak clearly
  • Make eye contact with the people you are presenting to
  • Avoid using fillers in your speech (um, you know, like, etc.)
  • Practice your presentation beforehand (this will also help you avoid those annoying fillers)
  • Be confident and remember that you are the expert in the subject you are speaking on

You can practice these tips by presenting to others in your organization or you can join a group like Toastmasters International and gain experience with your public speaking in that forum.

By growing more comfortable with public speaking as a whole, you will set yourself up nicely to improve your web design presentations.

Present in Person

Email is an amazing form of communication, but too often web designers rely on the convenience of email to share web design work with clients. While it is indeed easier to send a client an email with a link to review a design, so much is lost when you present work this way.

Being able to present your work in person and immediately address any questions or concerns your client may have allows for better overall communication. It also establishes you as the expert once again, which will help your cause if the time comes when you need to steer your clients away from making decisions that will not help them accomplish their online goals. By being in front of your clients, you strengthen your standing in their eyes and the overall relationship.

In some cases, your clients may not be local to you, so presenting in person may not be feasible. In these insatnces, you can turn to video conferencing software. As long as you are given the opportunity for some face time with your clients and the chance to explain your work (more on that shortly), your design presentation will be getting started on the right foot.

Recap Goals             

Before you begin presenting the work that you have done, take a few minutes to recap the goals of the project. This is helpful in case there is anyone in the meeting who may not have been a part of initial conversations regarding those goals. This also allows you to establish a context for what everyone is about to see and it gets everyone on the same page.

Do Not Just Give a Tour of the Design

Too often design presentations become a “tour” of the design. Your client can see where the logo is or where the navigation is placed. You do not need to point out every aspect of the design to your client. Instead, you should be focusing on how this design will help them accomplish their goals and why you made the decisions that you did. On that note...

Explain Why You Made the Decisions That You Did

Pointing out areas of the site, like the navigation, as part of tour is pointless. If you instead explain why you laid the navigation out the way that you did and, even better, how that decision will ultimately help the site be successful or to meet the stated goals of the project, you offer much more substance in your presentation.

By explaining the decisions you made and how they tie into actual business goals or web design best practices (responsive multi-device support, improved performance, search engine optimization, etc.), you help prevent clients from making seemingly arbitrary decisions about what may or may not need to be changed.

Remember, clients will give you their opinion, and if they do not have context, those opinions may be ill-informed. That is why it is your job to inform them. When you explain the reasoning behind your choices, you will find that clients are much more likely to respect those decisions and sign off on your work.

Have a Conversation

Ultimately, a design presentation is a conversation. You want to talk about the work and give the reasoning behind your choices, but you also want informed feedback from your clients. This is why it is so critical that you present the work in person (or via video conference) instead of relying on an email thread. By being in the room together and discussing the project, you do your part to ensure that nothing is lost in translation and everyone is working towards a common goal – the best website possible.

Edited by Jeremy Girard on 1/15/17