If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ve probably designed websites for a variety of clients. Maybe you’ve built sites for doctors, lawyers, small businesses, and perhaps even an artist or two.
When you’re familiar with a client’s industry, you can craft the entire design to fit industry-specific needs. The result is a superior product.
Here are 5 reasons why designers need to understand their client’s industry.
1. The marketing team will require adjustments to the layout
Changing colors and CSS styles is one thing, but imagine if you were asked to make changes that required restructuring the entire layout? That’s always a possibility when a site isn’t designed with a specific industry in mind.
Once a marketing team comes in, they’ll either try to deal with what exists or they’ll ask for changes. For example, say your client requires a lead capture form on the home page, but there’s no room to add it. You might be asked to restructure the page to accommodate the element in a specific position.
If you’ve already created a large header space at the top of the page, you’ll be able to accommodate most marketing needs. For example, a large call to action in the header is common for property management companies, even on the blog page. Blog posts bring in leads from search engines and the call to action will capture hot leads.
According to OptinMonster, there are at least fourteen unique and specific ways to design a lead capture form to maximize conversions. If you’re unaware of how lead capturing works in your client’s industry, you can expect to recreate your design.
2. Certain web elements aren’t appropriate for all industries
Criminal lawyers don’t need downloadable lead magnets – they need a visible phone number on every page so a visitor facing criminal charges can call immediately. A local mail center doesn’t need a blog on their home page – they need contact information, hours of operation, and a map.
All web elements need to be strategic. If you use third-party templates, you need to do more than find one that looks good. To get your client an appropriate template, you need to look at all templates through the lens of what your client needs. You’ll pick the right template by understanding your client’s industry.
A little industry research will help
Do some independent research to find out what’s important for potential leads to see right away. You could ask your client for this information, but clients tend to focus on aesthetics rather than functionality and marketing needs.
Dig up the industry’s top 5 websites and look for similarities to get an idea of what your client needs to be successful.
Avoid frustrating restructures by learning how products and services are marketed in your client’s industry before committing to a design or template.
3. Clients will listen to you
Sometimes clients want elements on their website that won’t serve their business. However, it’s nearly impossible to convince them otherwise.
When a client perceives you as a designer with no industry knowledge, they feel like the expert who knows better in all cases. By demonstrating your understanding of the industry, a client will be more likely to listen to your suggestions when you try to steer them away from bad ideas.
4. You can charge more for your services
Specializing in an industry secures your ability to command a higher rate. You can learn a little bit about multiple industries, or you can dive into one industry and become a specialist in that area. Either way, a firm understanding of an industry will net you a higher salary.
5. Your job will be easier
You’ll always run into clients who insist on using Comic Sans, flash animation, and make bizarre requests. While you can’t prevent these situations, understanding your client’s industry will make the majority of your job easier.
You’ll still need to ask questions and get clear on what each client wants, but understanding the industry makes it easier to comprehend a conversation where the client uses industry jargon.
Clients have no idea how hard designers work
Difficult clients don’t always know they’re being difficult. They often don’t have the time or patience to explain their project needs thoroughly. By understanding more about the industries you design for, you’ll produce professional and effective websites.