Clients can be really tough to handle. Working side by side with them can be agonizing episodes in Web designers’ career; these experiences are so painful that web designers sometimes wonder what exactly they have gotten themselves into. However, some clients can prove to be an absolute dream to work with and each moment we spend working with them reminds us why we become a Web designer in the first place. What really matters is; can we turn nightmare clients into perfect ones? The answer is actually easier than you may realize.
Some clients need guidance. If you deal with them correctly, this shouldn’t be too overwhelming; they just call for a bit of hand-holding. We may be surprised by how one extra email can make a world of difference for the progress of the project.
These are some issues clients may experience:
Can’t define clear goals
More often than not, clients have no idea what they should aim for. How many time have we been to a fancy restaurant and don’t know what order then ask the waitress for a recommendation instead. Clients in Web design projects are no different. They ask for recommendations from experts rather than looking for fixed solutions. Web designers should talk it over with them and get all details to help them make an educated recommendation. As concepts and ideas start to bounce around, eventually one will hit home and it may provide a solid starting point that can help everyone throughout the entire project. This should also assure the client that everything is progressing smoothly.
Being left out of process
Any successful designer-client relationship is built upon strong communication. When communication begins to slip, the entire relationship may crumble eventually. It is generally easy to try to be on the same page early in the project, but to maintain it throughout the entire project requires tenacity. At the beginning of the project, Web designers and clients should create a calendar to outline important events. The calendar can describe in detail when tasks should be completed and it can also keep clients in the loop. Obviously, in order to be effective, calendar entries should be followed by phone calls and emails. If you need one our two more days to finish a task, let the client know by sending a quick email. A notification email takes only a minute to compose and send, and it tells the client that you’re indeed working on a task. Small and simple effort like this can keep the client informed of the latest progress and can prevent them from feeling being left out of the process.
Sudden change of mind
Things may be going really well when you start a project, but changes in plan are bound to happen sooner or later. Clients may request Web designers scrap what they have done so far and move the entire project in another direction. This could mean that all of their efforts and time spent are wasted. In reality, there could be ways to integrate or reuse components of current projects with the new direction that clients want. When this problem occurs, Web designers need to understand the reasoning behind the shift toward a new direction and keep the communication line open. What clients want might not be too far off from what Web designers are currently doing and reusing original ideas may be easier than previously thought.
The initial shock of hearing about new changes could be somewhat disruptive, but Web designers should keep a good attitude and communicate with clients professionally. Clients may refuse to find a middle ground, if so Web designers should bill clients accordingly for the extra work.
Poor understanding on Web design
When we go to a car dealer, salespeople speak to us in terms we understand. But if they go in detail about gear differential ratio of the automatic transmission, consumers may look at them as though they’re not speaking with the same language. This also applies for clients in Web design industry. If we explain to them that the Web layout must be precise to certain amounts of pixels, then they’d look at us as though we are speaking a strange foreign language as well. Web designers should educate clients and this is neither glamorous nor easy. But once you properly educate clients on important Web design concepts, things can be much more pleasurable. This way, clients will fully understand what we are doing and why we choose to do it. They could also be more welcoming of changes needed due to unexpected technical reasons. What is obvious to us will also be more obvious to them and they’ll be more accommodating as well. Eventually, clients could even offer us some quality suggestions.
Doesn’t provide adequate information
In many Web design project, unclear requests are common. If clients are not fans of yellow buttons, they’ll tell us so. Being such cooperative Web designers, we immediately change the color to red or to other colors. But upon changing it, clients want to make the button stands out more. We respond by making the button slightly larger and use a more vivid hue of red. After making the change, clients tell us that things are getting better and it would be even better if the color is yellow.
Not so politely anymore, we can’t restrain to ask why they are so inconsistent. The button was yellow to begin with. This scenario happens all too frequently and it can be very frustrating. Clients may think that we are insensitive to what they want and we may think clients are ignorant for not giving us all important details. This could go on for the duration of the project or worse, during subsequent projects. If clients don’t provide enough details, we should go back to them to explain that we are not to sure about their objectives. Encourage them to provide more information to allow you deliver better results. If clients are not too sure, simply ask for approximation of what they are looking for. Web designers shouldn’t be afraid to jump on the phone when they encounter problems caused by lack of information. Guessing game is the quickest way to burn the whole team out and it should be avoided at all cost.
Managing clients’ expectations is always tricky. Clients may come to us with tasks that they think are not all that hard to accomplish. Unfortunately, under the list of demanding requests, clients may inform us that the timeframe is short and they have a shoestring budget. To clients, Web designers do the same thing every day and it should be very easy. Sadly, this isn’t the case and if problems arise, no one is at fault but Web designers for not explaining things clearly.
Web designers who fail to manage client expectations will never succeed in achieving goals. If we don’t regularly approach clients about what’s feasible and how the project is progressing, then no wonder clients think Web designers have the power to lift a mountain. Web designers should discuss about complication when they arise and clients who are kept in dark will have difficulty in setting realistic goals. Clients are often dumbfounded when Web designers balk at a request. We should explain to clients about the difficulty of achieving a specified task and let them know that it may require further research and time. Web designers who properly manage expectations within a project can often keep clients at bay and exceed expectations.
Some clients struggle to pay on time and this could make it very difficult to stay afloat with the project. One late payment could disrupt the entire project, but as in any business relationship, we always run the risk of experiencing payment problems. When starting a new project, no Web designer expects not to be paid in full in the end and we may wonder what to do when clients struggle to pay. It always a good idea to keep expenses low regardless of the status of payments. Just because clients have delivered payments on time, you shouldn’t spend them all. The next time clients pay late, you’ll still have some money available for operational costs.
Web designers should also request for an adequate amount of deposit before agreeing to sign a contract. Clients who are sluggish about offering a deposit may indirectly hint payment-related issues. Clearly state in the contract when payments are due and what are the consequences should they fail to pay in timely manner. Make sure clients agree to this part of the contract and they’re fully aware what will happen when payments are late. Be honest and open with clients about payments and remind them pleasantly when payments are due and invoices are coming up.
The very least Web designers can do is to treat their currents with respect and perhaps they’ll treat us the same in turn. Some clients may be tougher than others and that’s fully expected. We shouldn’t give in and always try to keep our head up. All the communication tricks in the world won’t mean a thing if they are done with contempt.
Make compromises, educate clients and continue to work with then. When everyone is happy, opportunities are virtually limitless. Web designers should take different approaches before shrugging off clients who regularly throw a fit. We may never know, with a little extra effort; they could end up being perfect clients.