If you want to become a better designer, you need to realize that the client is important. I have heard a lot of designers talk about clients as if they are enemies. Interfering with the project. We forget that our clients are our greatest assets and that we are actually working on their ideas. If you did not want to work under the influence of a client, whether it is direct or indirect, you would have been better off becoming a psychologist.
Now I understand that clients can be difficult at times. It is the world we live in. Often times the demand is high, the budget low and developers often make fun of it like below:
Truth is however that your biggest asset is not your websites, they are the clients behind the website. The website itself does not pay the bills, your clients do. Humans are strange, if they like you, they will often stick by you if you can barely deliver. If on the other hand they don’t like you. They will leave you the first time they find someone they like even if your service is superior.
If you truly value your clients and are not only interested in their money. You will learn to build a kind of trust that cause clients to leave you to do the work, pays when you ask them and thank you regularly. I receive emails from clients on a daily basis with only the following: Thank you… So how do you get clients to actually become your allies instead of your enemies?
1. Be objective and honest
When ever I work with clients I always take a neutral objective stand on any client input. I make suggestions of what can work, give possible alternatives and list any possible problems that any implementation could have. I never directly tell a client that his idea is bad. I just mention alternatives. Quite often the alternative makes the client light up and respond: “Oh! I didn’t know that we can do that?”.
2. Do not take it personal
Some clients are hard to please. They will see that one pixel that you could not fix. They will change their minds on a regular basis and request to remove functionality that you just spent 10 hours of your life on. You need to realize that the client has their own vision and your job is to try and bring that vision to life. You can try and help that vision along but inevitably it remains their vision. before taking on large projects, I tell my clients. if you can think it, I can build it. Even if we build it, it does not necessarily mean that it will be successful.
3. Protect yourself
As awesome as your clients might be and as much as you care about them you need to always protect yourself. The best way of doing this is by having a strong contract that indicates what a client paid for. One that states that any alterations to the project could result in additional charges. Apart from that I always keep my communication in email. It is a double protection between me and my clients as both parties have on record what we discussed. if it is telephonic, I still request an email from clients. This has helped me resolve many issues as a web developer. I have also seen other developers burnt because they did everything over the phone.
If you want to become a better web developer, you need to start valuing the client more.
Question of the post: Have you ever had to deal with a nightmare client and how did you get through it?