Designer Interviews

How to Get Great Testimonials and Case Studies as an Interior Designer

As you are well aware, having a great portfolio can go a long way to winning over clients. Being able to see your past projects can really help them determine if your unique style is a match for theirs.

But portfolio photographs don’t tell potential clients what it’s like to work with you one-on-one. What sort of service do you provide? Will you help them hone in on their signature style? Will you proactively manage the project? 

For potential clients to feel comfortable moving forward with you, they want to hear the experience others have had when working with you.

Depending on the type of design services you offer, potential clients will be hunting for different things in your testimonials and case studies. Some might be looking for a speedy turnaround, while others will be looking for end-to-end project management. 

Whatever your clients want, your goal is to make sure it’s reflected in the testimonials on your website. 

In this guide, we give you important steps for collecting great reviews from your clients and adding them to your site. 

Clarify project expectations upfront

You’ll get better reviews and testimonials when your onboarding process is on point. 

When clients pay you to do something, they want clear expectations just as much as you do. When things are clear, there’s a sense of ease throughout the whole project and less awkward moments. 

Whether you choose to do this in your proposal, an email, or over the phone, make sure you share the project details and expectations.

Here are some things you might include:

  • The project phases and what they include
  • How long each project phase lasts
  • When they need to give feedback by
  • The estimated price range of suggested items for each room
  • Purchasing procedures (setting expectations for lead time)
  • Clarify how you bill design work and project management (and what the difference is)
  • Potential hiccups that could happen and what to expect if they occur

Surprise and delight your clients during the project

In order to get great reviews, you have to impress your clients. There’s a phrase that marketers like to use: “surprise and delight.”

This refers to the practice of going above and beyond client expectations. This can be something simple like including a treasured heirloom in your design or giving your client an awesome bottle of champagne or including fresh cut flowers to the space on the day of the installation. 

Let your clients know you’re hoping for their public feedback

Tell your clients you’ll be asking for a case study, testimonial, or public review.

  • Case study – A case study is a problem/solution story (typically 500 – 900 words long) published on your site that covers why the client hired you, what problem they were facing, how you solved that problem, and the final result. You should only ask your most enthusiastic, gushing clients to participate in a case study.
  • Testimonial – A testimonial means a written or video account of what it was like to work with you and whether or not they would recommend you. Most designers prefer to ask for written testimonials, but you can also ask for video testimonials if you feel that’s a fit for your brand. You could add video testimonials to your website or post them on social media. 
  • Review – This refers to a written review on your Google business listing, Facebook page, or other site. The benefit of these is that reviews are good for SEO. Google ranks business listings high up in Map results when they have a high amount of positive reviews.

Here’s how a DesignFiles member approaches the ask:

“Provide some sort of written summary of your process. Within that, mention that your goal is to provide 5-star service and that if you ever fall short, you want the client to tell you and you will fix it. During the process, ask the client how things are going and if there is any way you could improve the process for them. If they give accolades, save those. If they offer ways to improve, obviously acknowledge those and implement them as you can or if you cannot, tell them what you can do. Always offer something! Then make sure your offering is sufficient for them. Once the project is finished, ask for the review. You can tell them that to make the process easier, you have saved some kind words they have expressed. Make sure you reply and acknowledge the review.”

– Clare Re of CDR Design

Create a process for asking for a testimonial or review after the project

You should create a repeatable process for requesting testimonials or reviews. 

Here are some useful tips:

  • Time it right. Timing is everything. It’s important to ask your client to participate in a case study interview or write you a review pretty quickly after the successful project is complete. As long as the project went well, ask them right when you’re celebrating the completion and explain to them any final things they need to know. 
  • Make it easy on the client by giving them some ideas for what they might include in the review. As Clare mentioned in the quote above, you can outline some kind words they said about you during the project.
  • Create your own email template for requesting these reviews and save that template in a tool like Yesware (which plugs into Gmail for easy template access) or store it in Google docs.
  • Add “request review” or “request testimonial” into your project management system for every project so you never forget to ask.  

Write case studies like a pro

If you want to publish case studies, you’ll need to interview the client on a 15-minute call. 

Questions you should ask

Make sure to ask them how they found out about you, why they hired you, what they were struggling with, what it was like to work with you, and whether or not they would recommend you. 

Here are the best questions to ask (modify them to fit the type of service you provide):

  • What challenges were you facing with the current design of your home?
  • What hesitation did you have about working with me?
  • What made you decide to work with me?
  • Once we started working together, what was your initial reaction about the process?
  • How do you feel about the completed design?
  • How has this impacted your life?
  • Would you recommend me to others? If so, what would you say?

How to structure your case studies

Work the information into a written case study with the following sub-sections:

  • Before – In this section, include how they found out about you, why they hired you, and what their needs were. For a brand new AirBnb, for example, you might write about the experience the client wanted to create for visitors. For a residential project, you might write about what the client didn’t like about their current living room. 
  • The project experience – In this section, include any challenges that you faced during the project and how you overcame them. Also include your design process and how this benefitted the project. 
  • The finished result – In this section, include raving testimonials from your client about how much they love the result, how they can’t wait to work with you again, and why they would recommend you to others. 

While this is the standard case study format, you don’t have to use it. You can write your case studies in a way that matches your design process. Just make sure you hit on those important points within your own unique structure.

In this example, the subsections are Site Survey & Program, Schematic Design, Design Development, Construction Documents, Construction Oversight, and Success.

interior design case study example

Display case studies and testimonials on your website

You can create a dedicated website page for your case studies, and link to the individual case studies that you have. 

Here’s an example case study page with four case studies:

interior design case studies

If you have testimonials, feel free to add them at the bottom of the web page. If you don’t have case studies for now, you can just create a testimonials page instead.

Don’t forget, that you might also want to sprinkle testimonials throughout your website. 

Make sure to link to case studies from strategic places on your site. For example, on a services page, you might link to your favorite case study in one section. 

In this example, designer Allison Jaffe has put press mentions and testimonials on her Praise page, which also includes her PR features.

interior designer testimonials
interior designer press featured in
interior designer testimonials

Use testimonials to win over clients who are on the fence

Testimonials, case studies, and reviews are all great for winning over clients. You hope that potential clients and leads will check out the social proof on your site and decide to hire you, right?

But you don’t have to only rely on a passive approach!

You can also follow up with leads and send them links to your various testimonials and case studies. 

For example, if you haven’t heard from a client after a paid consultation, you might send them an email linking to a case study that really shows off your project management skills and ability to get a project done efficiently. 

Collecting case studies is an important part of doing business. The best tip of all might just be Nike’s slogan: just do it.
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