Recently, I revised our Client Survey, arguably our most used and most important public form. Although the survey that we had been using was fine and perfectly functional (I would even go so far as to call it friendly and clever!) I felt strongly about the survey feeling more intimate and conversational. Happy Cog, to no surprise, has a form that does this well; and by this I mean that tricky blend of straight up information gathering and jovial conversing. I felt inspired to make our survey more clear, less redundant and more fun.

Because we rely on our surveys heavily to help us craft accurate and effective estimates for potential clients, clarity, both in the form itself and in the responses it encouraged, was at the top of my wish list. Was there a way to word questions that would encourage adjectives and helpful detail in the answers? Using phrases like please briefly describe or please use a few adjectives in place of all too brief yes or no questions seemed like a good place to start. Instead of asking questions such as, Do you have a logo? Have you established a style guide for the website? Do you intend to keep the website updated? I reworded: Please attach an image of your logo here. (A brilliant feature of Wufoo!) What feelings do you want your website to create in your visitors? How much updating will your site require?. With the new wording, potential clients seem much more likely to spend a few sentences really describing how they want people to feel upon visiting their site and the kind of work they’re willing to do to keep the site current.

Although the goal of Client Surveys is to gather as much useful, comprehensive information about a client as possible, I found many surveys (including our first one) to be too long. It seemed likely that the potential client might simply abandon the survey mid-stream, hopelessly exasperated about never finishing the damn thing. Or that they might fall asleep, or be painfully bored. As I took a closer look, however, many of the questions in our survey were simply redundant and could be cut, streamlined, and better organized. Presto! Shorter survey. But while these edits helped in terms of length, the issue of readability remained. So, I tweaked for fun with an ear toward the conversational. Let’s forget for a moment that we’re communicating via punching letters on a keyboard. You’re having a drink with a friend. You’re talking about your business. They’re asking you really good questions that are making you inspired. Ideas are everywhere! Have another beer and keep talking!

We consider the revisions a success. Many clients have completed the surveys at length, attached logos and colors for us to see and have been remarkably specific about the kind of experience they want visitors to have when arriving at their site. And, in general, everyone seems to be having a bit of fun. I think our survey helps to set the friendly, conversational tone for our future e-mail correspondence that we feel is so important. And right away, we have a feel for our potential client and the scope of their website hopes and dreams.