When it comes to a new client project, the onboarding process is the most complicated and time-consuming part of it all. There’s the initial part of deciding whether the client is a good fit, waiting for a proposal to be accepted, getting the contract signed, invoiced paid and all of the setup that comes after that.
It’s a lot to remember and work through. That’s why having a simple onboarding process for web design projects is so important. You’ve got to keep in mind though, that just because the final process is going to be simple, it doesn’t mean creating it will be.
This isn’t going to be a one-sitting setup, but I promise you, it’s 100% worth it. Take it from someone whose onboarding process used to take 5+ hours (yes, it was me).
Step 1: Put your current process on paper
To start, take 10 minutes to brainstorm the steps that go into your current onboarding process. You don’t need to worry about the order for now, just get it all down.
Think about the big picture items like “create and send proposal”, “develop contract”, etc. Set a timer and crank it out. Once you have everything written down, put those items in order.
Step 2: Simplify
Now that you’ve got each piece of your process written down, you can easily analyze each step. Take time to go through each item you recorded in step 1. Evaluate each item and determine whether you can make it simpler.
Can you remove that step completely?
Is it really necessary? For example, is there an extra call that you don’t need? Think about what you can eliminate. The goal here is to cut down the bulk to get to what really matters.
Can you reduce the number of tools you use?
Let’s say you send invoices through PayPal but contracts through HelloSign, you could move to an all-in-one tool like Dubsado instead. This may take some searching, but find alternatives to combine these tools where you see fit.
Can you automate the process?
If you’re doing a task manually, consider whether it’s something you can automate, again through a tool like Dubsado. Zapier may also come in handy. For example, after an inquiry is submitted, you could automatically send an email to thank them for their interest, provide your welcome packet, and let them know when to expect to hear back from you. You could also connect your proposal, contract, and invoice so your new client can go through them one after the other, rather than you having to send them each one individually. Think smarter, not harder on this one!
Step 3: Add anything you’re missing
It may seem counterintuitive to have a step that adds new tasks into the mix, but with an onboarding process, we also have a goal to increase the likelihood of fully booking a client. Plus, we are focusing on providing a positive experience in the process for both parties involved.
Consider steps you haven’t done in the past that you could benefit from adding into your onboarding. Here’s a list of things I like to include in my onboarding process to give you some ideas!
- Detailed lead capture form
- Thank you email with intro packet
- Proposal with custom video
- Set up Asana project
- Detailed project questionnaire
- Gather content
Tips to simplify each step
Now that you’ve done your end of the work, I want to take a second to go through most of the onboarding steps I’ve listed above to give some extra tips on making it simple.
I do want to note that what works for me won’t work for everyone, but feel free to use my tips to brainstorm your own methods on how you can improve and simplify your process.
Detailed lead caption form
Rather than a general contact form on your website for potential clients to fill out, include a detailed intake form. Use this form to ask every question you need in order to accurately quote a project.
This eliminates at least one round of going back and forth via email and it gives a great first impression to your client. You can get them a proposal faster, which can capitalize on their initial excitement.
Even if you like to offer a discovery call (which we’ll get to next), a detailed lead capture form will cut down the time that call takes and let you go into the call prepared.
You may have noticed that no type of call was included in my steps from the list above. That’s because I don’t require calls as a part of my onboarding process. If someone is ready to book and seems like a good fit for me through the intake form – we move forward.
However, offering calls can increase the likelihood of booking a project, so it’s totally up to you to decide whether or not to offer them. If you do decide to offer a call, include a link in your thank you email and intro packet as a next step for the client.
Thank you email with intro packet
After a lead submits their intake form, through some handy-dandy automation, automatically send them an email. This email should include: A thank you message, your intro packet and a 1-sentence description of why they should read it, and an optional link to schedule a call with you, if needed.
Your email should also give a preview of what they should expect next. You can easily automate all of this through Dubsado or any other similar pieces of software.
You can set up a great way to provide a good impression, keep the client excited, and keep them informed on what’s next. This is a total setup for success if you ask me!
Proposal with custom video
For your proposal, create a template that you can use and send easily each time – this is a super simple way to cut downtime for this step. If you have set projects, create a template for each individual project, but if your projects vary, include a master template that has add-on pieces to incorporate depending on the project scope.
For example, my master template has add-ons like e-commerce shops right in it. It’s easier to delete a section you don’t leave than to add something you do
I also suggest a custom video because although it doesn’t necessarily make your process easier, it builds a personal connection and increases the likelihood of getting a booked project. To make it easy, have a base script written out where you can plug-in personalized information for each client and record using Loom.
Contract and invoice
I am including this note about these two items together because they should always be sent together. You can either link them both in the same email or use something like Dubsado to automatically move to the invoice after the contract is signed.
Make sure to have premade contract and invoice templates available to make this a quick step.
Detailed project questionnaire
This is another place where I recommend incorporating a template. You may need to have different templates on hand for each type of project, but each can be tweaked to fit your needs.
Just like proposals, include more information than you’ll need for most projects. It is way easier to delete content then add it.
Gathering content from the client for the project can be painful, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out this previous post for more tips on this one!
Simplify your onboarding process
Like I said, this process isn’t going to be a super quick thing to set up, but it is so worth your time. A solid onboarding process will save you hours of time for each project and increase the likelihood that you book each prospect that pops into your inbox.
Start today by making a plan for the changes you want to make. Then, set up that plan in your project management tool of choice. Assign yourself due dates to complete each step and get your simple onboarding process ready to roll!