7 Essential Red Flags to Watch Out for in New Clients

Working with clients is one of the most difficult parts of being a web designer.

It’s a challenge which we face each and every day, regardless of whether we work in-house, as freelancers, or as agency owners.

Some clients are great, while others leave us tearing our hair our and wondering why we felt the need to subject ourselves to this line of work.

While some problems with clients can be put down to poor communication by both parties, many times we can identify clients which are going to be difficult before we even start working with them.

Today we’ll take a look at seven ways to make sure you don’t end up as a regular contributor to ClientsFromHell.net.

 

1. They Want To Argue on Price

1

This is probably the most common of all red flags. A client who wants to argue on price is a client who doesn’t respect, understand, or value the work of a web designer. If you hear statements such as “I have a nephew who can do the Photoshop for $50″ – run a mile.

Other common issues surrounding price and payment include not wanting to pay a deposit before the commencement of work and trying to get you to agree to payment clauses. For example: “Our new website must receive X amount of traffic by X date in order for the final 25% to become payable.”

This is not acceptable. You are a professional providing professional services, so make sure you are polite but firm with the price which you have quoted. The only way to increase the perceived value of web design as a service is if we hold steady on this issue.

Some clients think that they should be able to pay whatever they feel like for services, because they aren’t products with fixed prices. This is memorably depicted in The Client Vendor Relationship by Scofield Editorial.

 

2. They Need it Done Yesterday

2

Probably the next most common red flag encountered: clients who need their project completed yesterday, or at the very least by the end of the week.

Not understanding or caring about the amount of time needed in the web design process is another sure sign of a poor client. Not understanding, in principle, is OK. The not caring part is the real issue. Almost all clients with an immediately pressing deadline aren’t open to suggestion, their mind is made up.

Web design at any level beyond the most basic of sites takes a significant amount of time. The reality of the situation is that in the overwhelming majority of cases it wouldn’t even be possible to meet their deadline if you worked all day and all night.

I once left a client’s office at 8 PM on a Monday and had the client shouting at me on the phone at 9 AM on Tuesday asking why the next design revision hadn’t been completed. Needless to say, for that and other reasons, the project didn’t work out.

 

3. They Have an Existing Website Which Sucks

My own trademarked indicator of how to spot a nightmare client. It’s easy to think that if a client has an existing website which sucks, that they must have had a bad web designer. What is true much more of the time is that they had a good web designer and they screwed up the site all by themselves.

Here’s the thing, and The Oatmeal summed this up perfectly in their comic How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell, clients often have an overwhelming knack for screwing up websites. Looking at their current website can often offer a pretty clear indicator of what sort of client they’ll be.

Along the same lines, also depicted in aforementioned comic, if the client has a poor relationship with their last web designer then it could be a pretty good indicator that they’re going to end up having a poor relationship with you. I’ve personally never met a client who complained about their last web designer and then turned out to be loads of fun to work with.

The best clients already have great websites. They researched what they wanted, they worked with a great designer, the website is great, and now they want to work with you to take it to the next level.

 

4. The Person Managing the Project Built the Current Website

4

A sure-fire way to doom a project before it ever gets of the ground. If the person who you’re working for is the person who created the website which you’re redesigning, then they’re going to take everything personally.

Not only are they going to take everything personally, but they are going to want to offer their input, advice, and opinions every single step of the way. This is never more true than if the marketing manager is the person who runs the current site. Statements such as “can we make it flash” and “can we make the logo bigger” were born from clients such as this.

The fact of the matter is that the person who is paying you needs to be at least slightly impartial about the website which you’re creating for them. If they have a personal connection or commitment then the chances are that their own personal preferences will get in the way of important decisions.

For designers in particular, this type of client is guaranteed to be a pain from the get-go. If this red flag is present, then nine times out of ten red flag number three will also be there.

 

5. They Can’t Communicate

5

One of the more sneaky red flags, this one can creep up on you and knock you down when you’re least expecting it. Poor communicators come in all shapes and sizes. A client who seems like a great communicator socially does not always translate into a client who is a great communicator professionally.

The best way to gauge this particular metric is through multiple channels of communication. Talking on the phone, talking in person, writing via email, writing via project management software. How well are they able to tell you what they want?

Some of the classic statements used by clients who can’t communicate are “I don’t know what I want, but I’ll know it when I see it.” and “I want it to have more [pop/jazz/edge/whoosh/sex/shine/glint]” – these people just don’t know how to say what they mean and as a result it’s almost impossible to please them.

Communication is the most essential part of the web design process and without it a working relationship cannot go smoothly.

 

6. They Want Constant Meetings

6

The needy client is sure of only one thing, they don’t know what they’re doing and they don’t trust you to do it. To make up for their insecurities, they want to see you regularly so that you can hold their hand at every turn. With this client you’ll end up spending more time in meetings with them than you will on design or code.

The needy client will eventually drain you of all your time an energy. In extreme cases they’ll even ask you to work at their offices. They don’t trust you, they want to keep an eye on you and they want you to be right there whenever they have a question.

This red flag will often show itself in combination with the “Can’t Communicate” red flag. Their own inability to communicate leads them to believe that you don’t understand what they want, (this part is actually justified, most of the time you have no idea what they want because they themselves have no idea what they want), so they want to see you often to ask about more ‘pop’ and ‘flare’.

 

7. They Want an Ongoing Relationship

7

Finally, the ultimate red flag. A client who talks constantly about how they want an “ongoing relationship” is a client to avoid like the plague.

In a healthy professional relationship both parties know that if the project goes well, and if the opportunity presents itself, then they will work together again. A client who is insecure (number 6) and had a bad relationship with their last designer (number 3) wants to hang on to the next guy like he’s their holy savior.

In extreme cases these clients will talk about how they want to make you “part of the team” or “part of the family”. These are also the clients that are most likely to try to tempt you with offers of revenue or stock in the company in place of some part of your fee. They want to lock you in and own you.

This is the client who is going to call you at eleven at night because they had some great (read: awful) new idea that they just had to run past your urgently, just in case you were relaxing and going to bed instead of working on their site. Remember, you’re part of the family now, they own you.

 

Conclusion

Many of these issues can come down to uneducated clients, and as many other articles in the past have stressed: educating clients is extremely important. It’s your job to help them make the right decision, not laugh at them for not knowing what it is. Sometimes however, they can’t be helped.

We all have bills and mortgages to pay. Sometimes people say that they don’t have the luxury of choosing their clients in so much detail. Just keep in mind that a bad client will cost you money, not make you money. These are the types of people who will waste your time for two months and then with-hold payment.

This is just a blog post, these aren’t commandments written in stone. There are exceptions to every rule and it’s up to you to use your own judgement and common sense to identify the red flags as they come up. Hopefully, this post will have simply given you a few tips on things to look out for.


This post was authored exclusively for WDD by John O’Nolan, a seasoned web designer, writer and entrepreneur based in Surrey in the United Kingdom. John loves to talk to people, so why not @JohnONolan on twitter too?

Do you have any other essential red flags to watch out for in clients? Have you found any strong indicators to judge good and bad clients by?


  • http://www.vivoocreative.co.uk Nottingham web design

    Could not of put this in better words!! especually like – A client who talks constantly about how they want an “ongoing relationship” is a client to avoid like the plague.

  • http://www.webdesignkc.co.uk/ Rory

    I could have done with this article about a month ago, as I know this scenario all to well.
    I had to ditch a client (which of course I hate doing) the other day because they ticked most of these boxs you mentioned.

    From the start alarm bells were ringing but I ignored them and carried on. Had a few meetings (they wanted more) designed a mock up (they wanted more) and they kept adding more and more functionality to their ecommerce order. But still wanted to pay the same price as my first quote.

    Clients who don’t ‘respect, understand, or value the work of a web designer’ are nightmares, just get rid and move on to the next one. Lesson learnt this end!

  • http://www.freedomstudios.co.za Graham

    Great post.
    I agree that identifying types of clients early can save you a lot of stress and help keep your sanity.

  • http://360signals.com Maor

    Thanks for this awesome article! I had many of those red flags obstacle in my way as a web developer. I’m sure this post has enriched my knowledge about clients who should never be clients.

    Thanks!

  • http://mattm.me Matt

    This is all so true. Some of my clients show these signs occasionally, but as designers and freelancers it is our duty to work with your clients and make them understand exactly what’s going on. Some clients are scared: this is understandable. They don’t know the Internet, or what “XHTML” is. Clients like those need a little extra attention.

    If a potential client shows the first sign or the sign where they are a bad communicator, it really won’t work out.

    I totally agree with the fact that most people don’t get how much work we put into our projects. Even using a template, it takes about an hour to clean, a couple hours to modify elements, and heck, maybe a week to get all the content in there, provided that he/she knows what he/she wants. From scratch, it at least takes me a couple hours to work on a rough layout, a couple more hours to perfect, add in a few more hours for testing. Then you gotta worry about graphics. And content. Then more testing. It goes on and on :)

    Awesome article! :D

  • Steve Henderson

    If you follow these guidelines, who else is left? I guess your ideal customer is the The Vatican.

    • CJM

      I agree entirely, except that I expect that working for the Vatican might be equally testing for entirely different reasons! ;)

    • http://www.emilvikstrom.se/ Emil Vikström

      Have you even seen their website?

      http://www.vatican.va/

      • Stijn

        I didn’t expect it to be up to standards, but that’s hilarious :-) Suits the conservative foolosophy they’re keeping up with!

  • http://dejanjacimovic.com Dejan Jacimovic

    Wow! Such a nice way to describe all sorts of “clients from hell”. Thank you for wonderful/useful article, I’ll try to keep it in mind next time I am meeting a new client.

  • http://www.creativeindividual.co.uk Laura

    The red flags that I most commonly run into are 1, 2 and 5. Though thankfully most clients are a pleasure to work with.

    Just an idea – how about a follow up post on the “Green Flags” to watch out for, regarding the “Dream Client”?

    • http://john.onolan.org JohnONolan

      Hey Laura, thanks for the comment – that’s an awesome idea! I’ll add it to the list :)

  • Alan

    Excellent article. By the way, one erratum: “gets of the ground”

  • http://www.sametomorrow.com/blog adam

    Good post, most of them are pretty right on.

  • Ox

    There’s another one. They see you and instead of “Hi!” you hear “My friend! How good to see you! You’re like a son to me!”. Usually mean “I have a lot of money but you won’t see even half of the price you want for the project” Londoners know what I’m talking about :-)

  • http://www.benstokesmarketing.co.uk Web design Shrewsbury

    Great article – we are now in a position as a company to work with who we wish to. This allows us to eliminate bad clients.

    I would be very wary if your client wants to offer you a revenue share, I know this from previous experience!

  • http://trafficcoleman.com/ TrafficColeman

    I have experience all of these when we are helping a client develop an website. It can run you insane if you let..but I have learned to handle it now.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Jason

    When it comes to price you make some good points however a client looking to negotiate shouldn’t be shot down. You should be able to justify your price and put this too them. If they are looking to shave 10% off of the quote find out why and if you want the project haggle. There is nothing wrong with haggling. Problems arise when you quote £2000 for a project and they start haggling at £200. However, if they start haggling at £1500 it shows they are a decent business person.

    If a client just agrees to the price of a project, either they have an abundance of wealth or your not charging enough for your services.

    • http://john.onolan.org JohnONolan

      Thanks for the comment Jason, I totally agree with you – negotiation is fine – it’s the ones which have unrealistic expectations that are the problem. The article could definitely have been clearer in that regard :)

  • http://portfolio.adrianb.ca/ Adrian

    Great tips here for all you kiddies!

    Just remember no matter how desperate you get, is a bad client really worth the money?

  • http://WPBlogExperts.com SBA

    If only I had seen this months ago! As a new WordPress freelancer I’m learning the hard way. This article forces me to see what I thought were just ‘yellow flags’ as what they really are. Years ago most of my clients for static sites were just trying to get a web presence so they trusted (depended) on the designer’s judgments. They didn’t balk over prices, and just wanted you to give them their favorite colors. Now so many family members and buddies ‘know’ how to throw together a site with a free theme, it makes our jobs less respected (# 1 and 2).

    I find the clients from hell come to the professional only after they have a flawed setup or design — making some of us troubleshooters, wading thru bad design/theme modification practices. One even resisted my cautions about his preference for a new theme while talking about the cheapest price. Finally when I said his way would cost a lot more, the reaction was ‘why didn’t you say that from the beginning?’ Well I did, but next time I’ll recognize the big red flags.. lol

    I do enjoy working with a client who has a mix of #4 since they tend to appreciate your job (even add tips) and how you can help. I had a couple of clients who did the Photoshop for small widgets/thumbnails and had great ideas, so we moved faster. In hindsight I see a bit of #5 (they knew what they wanted but found it hard to say it and sometimes just dug into the same code I was changing — ugh.) or were so over-commited in their internet lives they failed to read updates or communicate in timely manner.

    John, thanks for sharing your insights in this guest post.

    • http://john.onolan.org JohnONolan

      Dont worry SBA, we’ve all been there :)

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  • http://www.bkmacdaddy.com Brian McDaniel

    Great post, John! I went through a recent experience in which almost all of the traits you listed were present and thankfully learned all of these lessons in one shot. Regardless of the education I received, it was quite a horror story that I never want to experience again. I wrote a post about it, in case anyone’s interested in learning from my mistakes: http://www.bkmacdaddy.com/blog/lessons-learned-from-my-first-unhappy-client ( I truly am not commenting just to share my post – it is just very relevant for this discussion.)

    Another warning sign could be a slow response time – I’ve had a few clients who take weeks to return an email, which can significantly slow down the schedule of the project and possibly impact other clients’ projects by doing so. This could also be am insight into their own personal ‘time frame’ which could be a warning sign for getting paid on time.

    Thanks for this post – excellent list and warnings we can all be on the lookout for.

    • http://john.onolan.org JohnONolan

      Thanks Brian, and a great additional tip to keep an eye out for!

    • http://www.industrialquill.com Imogen Moore

      I completely agree with this point.

      I’m a copywriter, rather than a web designer, but when it comes to slow feedback the principle is the same. So much so that I try to build ‘timely response’ into contracts and SOWs.

      Slow feedback is not only a red flag in itself, it also feeds into other red flags, including Completely Hands Off: “Here’s a half-baked brief, come back to me in a month with brilliance.”

  • Patrick

    Awesome post,…really true!

  • eileen

    What some clients really want a consultant, not a designer.

    Great article,
    Thanks!

  • CJM

    Sorry, but this is a rather lame article… Too many sound-bites and generalisations, with a bit of stating the obvious thrown in.

    1) A client who doesn’t argue about the price (to some extent) is an idiot. It is the fiduciary duty of the client to drive down their costs – simply accepting the stated costs is poor management. Of course the can be unrealistic and go too far… but you generalised too much.

    2) Of course they need it done yesterday… By opting for sound-bites, once again you generalise. The clients job is to get the project done well, as quickly and cheaply as they can. Yes, many clients don’t appreciate what effort should go into [successful] project, but pushing a developer for a quicker turnaround is perfectly sensible. As before, it’s a case of being reasonable.

    3) Flawed and utopian thinking again. A crap website doesn’t necessarily mean a crap client. Moreover, a good client with a good website wouldn’t change agencies unless they were pitching for a better price or or shorter lead time – both of which are no-no’s according to your article.

    4) A good point, if a little overstated. I’ve been on both sides of the equation. As a developer, I had to tread carefully to avoid offending the client or to be constrained by their way of doing things. As a client, I had to resist defending my prior work or insisting on my way of working. The moral here is to tread carefully.

    5) Stating the obvious. On a parallel site, there will be an article warning people to be wary of poor communicators when selecting a designers/developers.

    6) See 5. A client wanting constant meetings may well be a client who is impressed with your body of work but is unconvinced that *you* have the ability to communicate (i.e. *listen*) effectively, and simply wants to monitor ongoing progress. There isn’t a single school of project management that recommends no ongoing communication, monitoring and reviews.

    7) Cynical. I’ve heard ‘on-going relationships’ mentioned many times. Sometimes it’s simply a pleas to the agency not to screw the client on the first job – “We’ve got a lot of work to cover. Don’t try to screw us for every penny on this first phase, because we have more to do, and we don’t want to have to search for a new agency for every phase”.
    But more often, it’s an acknowledgement that they don’t know fully what they want: “We know we want a new website but beyond the basics we don’t know what else; come and get to know us and our business, so you can guide our web strategy”. To all but the biggest agencies, this is the ideal client. Apart from the initial development fees, there can be residuals from hosting, SEO, retainers and consultancy, and sometimes other spin-off work.

    In short, the article with smug, cynical and condescending, and offered no real insight. If I was a client, I’d avoid this type of developer.

    • http://john.onolan.org JohnONolan

      Hi CJM – I really appreciate your insights into how this article could be improved and will take your points into account to produce a more well-rounded piece in future. Thanks for taking the time to leave your thoughts!

  • Richard_Putikis

    Great post, thnx.

  • http://dejanseo.com.au Jaaved

    Good grief… this list just hits too close to home!

    I used to work in the web design field and encountered this daily and after being screwed, owned and slapped around, I eventually grew a tough outer layer and shunned off the lamers.

    Even now as an SEO, I encounter similar people who just don’t get it. Thankfully, I’m good at what I do so I can kinda be picky and have no qualms shooing away the clowns that expect to be #1 for ‘home loans’ within 1 month on a budget of $100.

  • http://www.godindesigns.com TG

    Many of these situations have already happened to me as well. Some clients are just ridiculous.

  • Dex

    Yes, unfortunately these are very true. I have experienced it first hand. Especially number 1. But when you are presented with amounts of money you normally don’t deal with, you tend to overlook the fact that the price is still unrealistic for the amount of work. When combined with number 6 and number 7 this was a complete hell. I consider myself lucky I got myself free of this client without a debt of 100.000 euro, which he wished for.

  • http://www.pixemotion.fr David

    A good analysis from what can occur with certain customers odd

  • http://adnanistan.wordpress.com Adnan

    This list pretty much excludes every potential client in the marketplace. For designers who have no prior experience and are just starting out, taking on a needy or controlling client may not be ideal, but it may be all they can hope for. Also, reading a list like this is entertaining, but until you’ve actually worked with a client who demonstrates one of these bad habits, you won’t really learn anything as a designer or as a social interactor in general. Working with misinformed or callous clients also provides an opportunity for us as designers to educate them as to what is and is not your responsibility. I’ve worked with a lot of clients in the past who started off making unreasonable demands and touting unrealistic goals, but through discussion and negotiation, eventually understood that I was a professional, which in turn made them behave more professionally as well. At the end of the day, we want to work, and we want to see better work out there. Simply avoiding the bad clients ensures that bad designers will find bad work, do it badly, and the cycle of bad design perpetuates itself.

    • LuckyFish

      Adnan,

      I really liked your input. This was a great quote “I’ve worked with a lot of clients in the past who started off making unreasonable demands and touting unrealistic goals, but through discussion and negotiation, eventually understood that I was a professional,”

      It is always nice to read a well thought and well written comment on an article. Thanks!

      • http://adnanistan.wordpress.com Adnan

        No, thank YOU :D

  • http://www.evelt.com/ joel k

    Right on right on
    this is so true and in most cases a bad client will check’em all so i got to be blind not to see it coming… and still we fall in ocationaly

  • http://www.nsitemedia.com Nordli

    i had all of these

  • http://headspacedesign.ca Kyle Racki

    Agree with all except #3 – often clients come to us because their websites are bad. Their websites are usually bad because:

    a) It was built before they (ie: marketing manager or whomever) were around

    b) It was made many years ago when bad practices were even more prevalent

    c) It was made quickly and with a low budget and now the client wants to do it right

    None of these reasons would be sufficient for excluding them as a client. I am proud to take a new client’s site from being pure ass to pure awesome, as I’m sure every web designer is.

    • http://www.future-visions.co.uk Nathan Littleton

      Haha – pure ass to pure awesome. I like that. Very true indeed.

    • Ron

      Totally agree. I’ve worked on very successful projects to revamp godawful websites before. In a larger organization usually the reason they are redesigning is because there has been a shakeup in management.

      And if they’re approaching you to fix up a bad website, it means they’ve accepted it was bad and needed a change. If you’re smart you can leverage this to your advantage and make a bigger project out of it.

  • sheena

    Fair played to ya John….great article as always!

    I’m only starting out in the freelance world myself, but have learned so much over the past 4 months, having been burned by a small number of nightmare clients….so your observations above really do hit home (especially point 1). Fortunately I’m learning with each new client which ones to avoid like the plague! But i guess as they say…you live and learn!

    Thanks for putting them all together for others to take note of!

  • http://gmrobbie Gregory M Robinson

    Got My Frist H.P. 2,000 IT Was BIG HELL HIRED A STARVING STUDENT From e.m.u.
    The rest is history!

  • http://www.ifg.pl IFG design

    Nice work, it so real…

  • http://www.future-visions.co.uk Nathan Littleton

    Great article. Red flags don’t always mean ‘don’t deal with,’ as some were subsequently to suggest, but it’s certainly important to take note whenever any of these points become apparent.

  • http://www.thefount.com Website designer and creative director

    There will always be some clients who are more challenging to work with than others but if you are professional and experienced you can build strong working relationships with all your clients.

    Good studio processes and clear communication go a long way to making a client feel comfortable that you have the necessary skills to achieve a successful outcome for their design needs. If a client is comfortable with your expertise and knowledge they will give you the opportunity to do your job. There will always be compromises and challenges if you are a commercial designer but by forming partnerships with your clients and being insightful about their needs and perspectives you can build mutually beneficial long term relationships and produce work everyone can be proud of and benefit from.

  • http://www.curtisscott.com Curtis Scott

    This was a very informative writeup, thanks for sharing! I found point #3 to be very informative. Thanks!

  • http://www.philz-corner.com Phil

    Awesome article, could not agree more. Some of these happen to me, its what all of us experience at some point I guess.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ngassmann Nick Gassmann

    @John: Number 4 isn’t always true. Since I manage many projects at once, I sometimes have others redesign projects that were initially part of my belt of designs. I treat them as a designer with fresh ideas and try to be as impartial as the next, however I always look at my designs as being shite, and as the new designer as one who will improve it by brining their talent to the project.

    Maybe I’m meant to be an art director, but I hire designers to redesign because they are talented, and I welcome their criticism of my crappy designs. :P

  • http://bullsprig.com/ Reno Web Design

    Not wanting to pay a deposit is a good one. Just had this happen the other day… “can you do this, this, this and this for me?” I said sure, I’ll send you over the contract. Sign it, and mail it back with a 50% deposit. He shot us an email the next day saying the website’s on hold. Sounds about right…

  • http://youdontneedit Narek

    Are you serious? This is nonsense. These are not “Red Flags” they are simply challenges that you as a designer must face. Every single one of those “red flags” is a normal human attribute. Do yourself a favor and don’t ever let your clients read this kind of crap. Instead focus on the education part. And when you figure that out write an article and title it “How to politely and effectively educate your clients and help them identify their design needs.

    Cheers
    Narek

  • Ron

    I probably have about a dozen more. Most of the red flags out there are really signs that the client doesn’t completely respect you or the work you do, or that they have overly high expectations. If they don’t respect you or your work, they are going to treat it as if its not worth what you say it is. If they have delusions of grandeur they are going to be hit with harsh realities. They likely have equally unrealistically high expectations for timeline, budget, your commitment, and the success of the project.

    A) Client asks you to sign NDA paperwork before they’ll even tell you what the project is (exception: working with a Fortune 50 company, celebrity, or government agency). Respect: Don’t respect you enough to think you’ll keep your mouth shut. Delusion: because they think their project will fail if someone else finds out. Success is about execution, not ideas.

    B) Client tells you they’ll pay in full when the investors come through, and they’ve “signed the paperwork”. Investor money means nothing unless they are writing you checks with it. Delusion: they believe that investor money is real before they’re holding it. Respect: They are having you assume some of the financial risk of the venture, because often they haven’t committed to paying you in full unless the money comes in.

    C) Client is incapable of writing a properly formed email. IE: with a greeting, body (using capital letters) and signature. Respect: They don’t respect you enough to give you proper business communication.

    D) If the client makes ANY jokes about the project being for free, they are hiding that they want to try and con you into doing the work for free or an extreme discount. EVERY client that has made a joke about not paying has ended up being a bad client who’s fought me on money issues or tried to weasel out of paying in the end. Respect: Client does not respect the value of your work, at all.

    E) Calls you at night or weekends, without asking first. (PS If you show that you are available to talk at night, they will consistently call you at all hours.) Respect: Your free time is not valuable.

    F) Business address is a P.O. box. They have something to hide. Respect based, because they are about to deliberately rip you or someone else off, and are not telling you this.

    Ok, long comment ends here. That should be enough.

  • http://www.catnipcreations.co.za Markus

    Was thinking about writing a similar post including each of these points :)

  • GC

    I understand the London thing! It’s a big problem in all creative fields in this city (and probably other major cities), there are so many people willing to undercut on price and even work for free.

  • malcolm

    What I dont get though is how exactly would you turn down a client especially after meeting up with the client and talking in depth? When you say run a mile how exactly would I ease myself out of doing any business with the client? Do I make up some kind of excuse? Or do I just be clear cut and at the same time offend him just a little bit? I’m not a freelance web designer so I dont know but I was wondering how you would execute such a move?

  • poorMan

    Once a client asked me to work at his office, of corse I didn’t.

  • http://www.newwebdesign.com NewWebDesign.com

    The real problem with web design, as many others have already stated, is the lack of a ‘standard value’ for a website, or most other website-related services. To be fair, it is hard to quantify how much revenue can be gained (or lost) due to a poorly designed site or cheaply Photoshopped graphic. However, a demonstration of the quality of your service compared with the client’s expectations can really make a difference in what your client expects

  • http://www.webdesign.nl Gerwin van der Feijst

    just loved reading your article. after beeing in business for 15 years i recognize all the examples and must admit i even fall for them from time to time. I will try and make a small version of this article in dutch and place it on our website recommending people to check out the original. it will help dutch designers a lott and hopefully teach customers they should have some more respect and try to learn more about our work before making their crazy demands.

  • http://www.intercomm.co.za InterComm South Africa

    I’d like to add a flag – the customer who has never had a website before. I know this sounds strange in this day and age, but it could be a new company, a young manager etc. No matter how nice the client, a company’s first website is a headache.

    They have no copy or photos. There is no company profile, and often no marketing strategy. And every website they have ever seen becomes part of the brief.

    They don’t know what functionality is difficult, so they have very high expectations for “cool stuff”. They want animation, and colour, and movement. They want a shopping cart, and every application they can think of.

    They have no concept of maintenance, or that it bears a cost. 6 months after you built the site you will still be doing weekly additions because they can’t remember how to log in. They won’t expect to pay for this.

    And finally, they will be disappointed no matter what you do. They expected a 100 phone calls a day from their new site, and didn’t plan on any other advertising or marketing – they WILL blame the designer.

    My favourite client – the second company website. You have an educated client who has spent a year or two thinking what he really wants and who is ready to listen.

    • http://www.catch22marketing.com Cameron Clark

      I totally agree about your conclusion but i hear a little negativity in your voice. Remember we share a responsibility to educate and drive the process, especially for first timers.

  • http://www.catch22marketing.com Cameron Clark

    Quite simply one of the best articles I’ve read in a long long time. Positive, balanced and incredibly helpful.

    A product design friend of mine said there are 3 categories of clients – A’s, B’s and C’s. A’s are good to work with, pay on time and refer you to others. C’s are the exact opposite and B’s are somewhere in between. If you value your business you need to cut the C’s out as soon as possible. Use this guide as a blueprint to choose only A’s and B’s and then look after them really really well.