Hab SoSlI’ Quch!” translated from Klingon means “Your momma has a smooth forward” …yes that is the ultimate insult from a Klingon. 

It occured to me the other day that sometimes clients really don’t know what the heck we’re talking about as designers and programmers. You might as well be speaking Klingon. That’s not a slam on the client’s intelligence (or on Klingons.) It’s more of a failure on our part in effective communication. If a doctor starts talking medical terms, I have no clue what he’s talking about either. But a reputable doctor will have a good bedside manner to compliment their medical knowledge. Their ability to relate the information to the patient in a clear and friendly way really helps distinguish them from other professionals in their field. I think designers and programmers can take a lesson from this. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our little world of technology buzzwords and designer lingo we forget that our clients aren’t apart of that same crazy world. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a acronym in our business.  Here’s an example of a typical conversation.

“We’ll be taking your XHTML and .ASP files along with your css and image directories and uploading those up to your host domain through a FTP program. It’s behind our a secure firewall so it may take a while. Shouldn’t be a problem though.”

All the client heard was “blah blah blah.  Shouldn’t be a problem though.” 

So let’s say that in some terms they can better relate to.

“We’re about ready to launch yourname.com once we upload the files to your website. We’ll have it live on Wednesday by 5pm so your customers can get  started visiting it then.”

There, done and to the point. The client doesn’t need to hear how you did everything or your fancy technical terms. What they do need to know is how it’s affecting their business in clear concise words and what the next step is in the process. You are also not talking down to them and if they want to know the nitty gritty details, you can help guide them through those as needed. Remember they can teach you just as much about their business as you can teach them about yours. Great business relationships are a team effort so make that client apart of your team. Save the Klingon talk for the next Trek convention.