What your client really wants

Picture the scene: You’re working at a design agency and your job is to develop a new project for an important client. The brief contained all the usual catchphrases like “cutting-edge design”, “integrated horizontal solution” or maybe “leverage our social-media strategy”. In other words you’re stumped.

Your boss calls for a meeting to discuss what you will propose to the client and it only goes downhill from here on. Someone suggests a crowdsourcing campaign, someone suggests a massively multiplayer game and someone suggests a viral marketing video because the brief clearly called for an “innovative B2B solution”. There has to be another way…

And there is! As soon as the meeting is over you call the client and ask them directly what it is they actually want. And you find out they need a new online store. But with an animated intro. And tied into Foursquare because what the heck, that’s where the kids are these days, right? Your question as to how they came up with this list of features gets no answer.

So you shrug, you sigh and then you design a mobile app for the simple reason that nobody mentioned this idea yet. Sounds familiar?

Getting clients to talk requirements is easy. Sure enough they have many bright ideas and they will gladly talk about these all day but can they tell you what you really need to do? How do you find out for yourself what it is you should be focusing on? And how can you get everyone to focus on the same things?

So you have two problems: Finding out what it is you should do and then getting everyone involved on the same page. Any ideas?