How to collect design requirements from a client

One of  the things when you’re starting out in a design career is how to collect design requirements from a potential client. Granted it seems easy enough to sit with them and write down everything they say but you’ll get back to your desk and feel yourself staring at your notes without a clue of what the job entailed.

There are a few valid reasons as to why you need to collect designer/job requirements in an effective manner.


Understanding the Job

A client meeting is the time for you to impress, and one way of impressing a client is to show a complete understanding of what they require. You can do this in various way or simply by listening and asking pertinent questions that you get clear answers back for. If you sound like you know what you’re doing then the trust built in that one meeting, might be enough for you to win the job all together.

Understanding the Client

All of our clients have their own expectations, whether it comes down to design or function. If we can ask all the questions we need, at least then we’ll have the information to work from. It doesn’t matter if we as professionals know better, at least we can discuss their points with them. We can ask for favorite color schemes, we can inquire about ‘look and feel’ aesthetics that they like. All of this information can help in setting up a mood board.

Being able to Quote Correctly

Collecting detailed requirements of a job enable you to quote more effectively as you will have all of the information to plan out time and resources that will be required to complete the project. It is important to quote correctly for both you and your prospective client. Clients certainly don’t want to be surprised by an over compensated quote, after all you’d like to take on the work you’re quoting for and you want to make sure you quote exactly for what is entailed within the job requirements. Not quoting correctly will mean that you’ll be doing a lot of work for little reward.


Various designers use a different means to collect requirements. Below are a few hand-picked designers showing how they collect information.

Sam Brown (Massive Blue)

Sam Brown uses an online form on a contact page for prospective clients to input a minimal amount of information including a potential client budget. This helps to narrow down and possibly ween out any unwanted clientele.

Massive Blue

Sarah Parmenter (YouKnowWho)

Sarah goes in to a lot of detail asking a list of specific questions to potential clients. These are all initial questions as Sarah also provides a website worksheet for you to download, fill in a upload back to Sarah.

Andy Clarke (Stuff and Nonsense)

Andy Clarke goes for a smaller amount of questions with the addition of a ‘Work requisition sheet’ which can be downloaded, filled in and sent back. Andy adds a project budget drop down on to the contact form with general budget guidelines.

David Pache (Helvetic Brands)

David Pache’s primary work is branding, and the rules certainly don’t change for the way requirements are collected. David’s primary way of collecting the design/job requirements are via his website using an online form. The form is quite extensive but asks all of the relevant questions that will aid in writing the correct quote.


If you don’t have an online form on your website you can use services such as and, online form creators where you can build your own form. They have various memberships that allow different various additional perks like being able to upload documents etc.

Of course you can do the same as some of the above by using downloadable word documents, every business will need a different worksheet depending on the work you deliver however I’ve put together a rough outlined document which is free to download and use. All you need to do is add in your own questions, company name and contact details.

Download PDF / Download Word Document.

Is there anything you would add in or change? Let me know in the comments below as I’d like to update this from everyone’s feedback.

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Lead Interaction Designer at DigitalDWP. Organiser of Industry, The Practical Web Conference..

3 thoughts on “How to collect design requirements from a client”

  1. I added a project survey document as a download on my site and it’s been really helpful, the trick is to make it simple, straightforward and not a task that will take too long to complete. I haven’t put a budget question in there, it is something I want to add to weed out people who are asking for something way out of their price range, but I also don’t want to put people off – as many of my clients aren’t sure of how much a website should cost, or are unsure of how much they want to spend.

    1. Hey Martin, the hardest part of working with new clients is educating them on the cost of your services. I’m a believer of asking them what their budget is regardless. You wouldn’t go to buy a car without knowing how much you had to spend. 🙂

  2. Since I added a wee questionnaire to potential new clients (if they are serious they can fill it out right?) I have got rid of around 99% of timewasters. Wish I had done this years ago.

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