The foundation of any website design ideas or graphic project is communication. Without communication, your project is doomed from the start. Communication aids understanding and eventually influences the project outcome. It is essential that communication line from the client to the designer must be open from the beginning of the project, until even after the project is finished.
Clients usually have an idea of what they want in written or in memory. However, it is often hard for non-creative people to convey what they are envisioning. This could cause the entire project to get off on the wrong foot. My suggestion for this is to utilize a creative brief. As a designer, you can put one of these together to give clients at the beginning of the project to help guide them through the creative process. There are many different ways to accomplish this. You might use a survey form or design a physical form that asks all the questions related to your design and have it mail to the client. Have them fill out the survey as best they can and send it back. This will give you a lot of valuable information right from the start.
Another approach can be seen in Vari Longmuir’s article for Buttercup Ink Here you can see some of the main concepts designers want to capture from the creative brief.
This approach is simple and easy to understand for the client because it ask the essential question using words that anyone can relate with. Everyone knows what Competitors is and what Look is, right? It also specifically states what the goals of the client are, and what their expected deliverables are. Sending your client something like this is a big help at the beginning of a project and could bring their attention to important concepts they might not have thought of before.