Getting Started

Basic information about websites and the web design business

How to Be a Good Client

Getting Started

I’ve had all kinds of clients. Some are easy to get along with and appreciate the time investment and commitment good web design and development takes, while others flood my inbox with lots of nonsensical demands and impede the design process with their indecisiveness and inability to communicate. I generally have a good sense of what kind of client an individual will be when we first meet, and take on projects that I believe will be mutually-beneficial, but even the nicest person can unknowingly impede the design and development process.

When we get stuck in ruts of making too many tedious changes or failing to deliver content or imagery on time, we both lose out, because it takes more time to build the site (and admittedly gets frustrating) and the ultimate product, though high-quality, may not be quite the same as it potentially could have been. By working together, we can avoid commons collaborative pitfalls and make a killer website you’ll love.

Why you should want to be a good client

If we both listen to each other, respect each other, follow through on commitments and focus on the most important parts of the design and development process, we’ll have a better relationship. Not only will we probably like each other better, but we’ll end up being more effective and creating an overall better website. Asking you to “be a good client” is not just about making it easy on me, but rather, it’s about allowing us to work together more effectively so we both end up happier and more successful as a result. It’s a win, win, really.

Ways to be a good client

Most of my clients are “good clients.” If someone isn’t respectful or is uncooperative, I generally choose to head it off at the pass and take on a different project. That said, we can all understand each other a little better, and part of my job is to communicate what I expect of you and what you can do to help me do my job better, which is ultimately beneficial to you.

Communicate

Communication is a priority, and it’s a two-way road. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it, and if I need more time or will be late, I will always communicate that to you. If you provide me the same courtesy, I can spend more time focused on the important stuff, like building you a kick-butt website.

Provide content and feedback in a timely manner

This goes along with communication. I know you’re busy and have a lengthy list of things to do, but if I’m waiting on content, design approval or a couple of images you said you’d send by this afternoon, I may be unable to work on your site. And again, if you need extra time or will be later than you anticipated, just take a couple minutes and shoot me an e-mail or give me a call to let me know.

Focus on the big picture

Sometimes people have a way of zoning in on a particular detail and really making a big deal of it. I of course can be guilty of this, too, but let’s try to keep a “big picture” focus when we work on the site. I want you to be completely satisfied with your website, but if we spend too much time going back and forth about how one particular image displays, we might get off track and spend less time working on the overall site structure that matters much more.

Remember why you hired a designer

When you hire a web designer and developer, you’re hiring him for his experience, knowledge, eye for design and ability to create something that he believes will work well for you. When I develop a site, I of course work closely with my clients and value their opinions and input, but it’s also important to remember why you hire a designer – for his experience, knowledge of how the web works and his eye for design.

I’ve had a number of clients who get too caught up in the design process and wanting to make tweaks that they end up insisting on changes that I believe reduce the overall appearance, quality or usability of the site, and take up valuable time in the process. Sometimes clients have great ideas that point out issues or opportunities I wasn’t able to see, but other times it’s important to give the designer a little breathing room to simply do the job you hired him to do.

Understand the design process

Before we start working on your site, I’ll explain how it all works. I’ll walk you through, step by step, what you can expect. Pay attention to this agreement, and let’s work together on it. For example, once we’ve established the design and are coding out the site and integrating it with the admin back-end, it will take more time (or cost money) to go back and make design or layout changes – understanding this, take the time to thoroughly evaluate the design in the concept stage before we begin developing it into your new site.

Listen to your friends (in moderation)

Everyone has a friend, or a friend of a friend, who knows a thing or two about websites. Not uncommonly, these friends check out a site we’re about to finish and offer their suggestions. These suggestions are sometimes relevant, but other times they’re somewhat misguided or altogether worthless. Listen to your friends, but take what they say with a grain of salt. And when you do have others check out the site, remember to keep within the development process (have them check out the design when we’re in the concept design phase and not about to launch the site).

Understand the amount of work involved

Appreciating how much work (and experience and knowledge) it takes to build a good website can be difficult for someone who isn’t a web designer, and if you had the experience you’d be building the site yourself. I understand that. At the same time, either take a leap of faith in trusting that web design and development has lots of “behind the scenes” work, or do a little research to see what it entails. From learning the methods and honing the skills needed to build a quality websites, to employing creativity and coding and developing, it takes a lot of time, experience and skill.

Some people want a “simple website” and expect to pay a minimal amount of money, without realizing how much work goes into building even a “simple website.” Just because a website has only a few pages does not mean it takes drastically less time to make, and the price someone is offering on Craigslist is more a reflection of the quality of their work than the appropriate rate for a good website.

Be nice

Most of my clients have been pretty nice. I’ve only had a few that were truly problematic. The clients that show some respect for the amount of work that’s involved, communicate, follow through on their commitments and show that they’ve thought through their requests before they make them will find that I’m actually quite flexible and willing to accommodate. :)

What I do to help our relationship

As I’ve said before, communication and relationship-building are two-way roads. I will do my best to communicate with you and do my part to help the design and development processes run smoothly. When I first started designing websites, I entered projects completely “open ended” because I didn’t have the experience to structure them, and they ended up taking too much time and getting off-track with tedious changes. Now, I use my experience to our advantage and am better able to communicate what I need from you, explain how the process works and keep the project on track, and overall the websites are getting better as a result.

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