How To Elegantly Terminate A Failing Web Design Project?

Posted on October 23, 2012 by

Web designer-client relationship goes both ways and as often there are frustrated designers, there are also disappointed clients. Clients should know what they should do if they don’t like the work results.

One common scenario is, a client hires web designer to take on a major redesign project. A typical part of redesign project is to refresh the logo. The designer will usually put forth plenty variations of the website logo for the client to choose. As always the client appreciates the dedication. But here’s the kicker; even with so many options on the table, the client doesn’t see something that he “is in love with”. Put simply, the client hires web designer, the designer does his job, but the client simply hates everything. At this stage, it may already be too late for the client and to progress properly you should read on. One thing that needs to happen before money changes hand is to make your objectives crystal clear to the web designer.

There are two approaches we can choose when negotiating for a web design project. First, clients buy web designer’s time and as experienced professionals, web designers typically value their time and clients should compensate them accordingly based on the time they spend working on the project. This is similar to calling a cab; you pay the driver based on the time you spend inside the car.

The second approach is to view the design project as a product-centered approach. Here, the client doesn’t care if the web designer spent two hours or two weeks on a task. In general, clients pay flat rate for a “deliverable”.

From Web designers’ perspective, the time-based rate is often the best way to go, from clients’ perspective the system is also desirable because it’s far easier to determine the amount of payment. But for client, the piecemeal system can be tricky to handle if the designer repeatedly deliver too little results in a specific range time. When choosing this approach, clients should make sure that the web designer still allow enough time for revisions.

On the other hand, project-oriented can be priced far more realistically. For example, at a specific flat rate, it can be consisted of the main task, plus a few major and minor revisions. In any agreement, clients should know upfront what will happen in the case that something isn’t good enough. For example, clients can get one major revision and three minor revisions with no extra fees. Some clients may need many more, so they may need to agree on pricing for each round of revision.

Handling feedback
When you are working on something creative, feedback is often a touchy subject. If issues related to feedback arise, both sides could be to blame here. Sometimes, clients can be flat out unprofessional by continuously releasing a barrage of rude criticism. On the other side of the extreme, clients may have hesitance to say anything on the slightest mistake.

But web designers can be too emotionally attached to their work and start to forget who’s paying the bill. If a web designer like yellow but the client insists that the main color of the website layout should be red, the designer shouldn’t throw a tantrum. The web designer must make the dang website layout red and try to act properly.

Clients can make mistakes too, but since they’re paying, they always have final say on almost everything. Clients should be more open, professional and honest. If Web designers can’t take it, clients should seriously consider hiring someone else. Clients don’t have to pretend that they love everything and if something looks unsatisfactory, they should say so. Early in the project, this issue could cause some awkward conversation, but this is a part of any business relationship. Web designers usually prefer clients that clearly let designers know what they want and think. How Web designers can make something that along the lines if they don’t what the clients want?

Web designers may work hard and go above and beyond the call of duty to deliver something worthwhile. But sometimes, the client notices that something is still missing and think that the situation is a clear ground for non-payment. If clients can’t get what’s promised, neither can the designer.

What if things get really bad?
This is where things can get really awkward. Clients want to cease activity, but the amount due is uncertain. This is the time to have an open discussion and there could be a debate between the client and designer about the value of the work. Determine how far the web design protect has progressed. In order to save both of your time, the amount paid should be equal to the percentage of work finished. If the web designer has finished a third of the total work, the client should pay a third of the total project value.
Another important thing is to ensure that client’s new designer can resume the partially-finished work. If possible, the client should take the new designer to the termination meeting so the work can continue faster.

Advices in this article are applicable to any failing web design project where clients don’t like anything the web designer has delivered. But sometimes designers are confident and perhaps, foolish enough to put the “satisfaction guaranteed” clause in the agreement. Both parties should explore about what this could entail. Because, this could mean that the web designer is willing to continue the work until the client is satisfied.

Many of us have only been on one side of the client-web designer relationship and therefore we often fail to see the big picture. If you see things fairly, you should be able to see that everyone has an equal share of innocence and blame. Sometimes certain clients just aren’t meant to work with certain web designers; so you should be fully prepared for this possibility.

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  • Editor