Menu Search
Jump to the content X X
Smashing Conf Barcelona

You know, we use ad-blockers as well. We gotta keep those servers running though. Did you know that we publish useful books and run friendly conferences — crafted for pros like yourself? E.g. our upcoming SmashingConf Barcelona, dedicated to smart front-end techniques and design patterns.

How To Turn All Clients Into Dream Clients (Or Common Client Difficulties)

Clients can be tough… real tough. Working side by side with some clients can be an agonizing experience — an experience so painful that you often wonder what exactly you have gotten yourself into. On the other hand, some clients are an absolute dream to work with. Every day spent working with them reminds you why you became a web designer and just how enjoyable your job actually is. The question then is, how do we take our most difficult clients and turn them into dream clients? The answer may be easier than you realize.

Clients often require a bit of hand-holding. When dealt with correctly, this is not too overwhelming; it just calls for some simple guidance. You may be surprised by how a few extra emails here and there can make a world of difference. Outlined here are some of the most common client difficulties our Twitter followers have run into and how to best resolve them.

Also consider our previous articles:

Common Client Difficulties Link

Doesn’t Know What They Want Link

Client does not know what they want.6
“They have no idea what they want!” (@daveom7)

More often than none, clients have no idea what they want and look to you for your expertise. For a designer, it can be annoying. Then again, how many times have you been to a restaurant and had no idea what to order and asked for a recommendation? Clients are no different. They are looking for recommendations, not fixed solutions. Talk it over with them, get all the details, and then start making educated recommendations. As ideas start to bounce around, one will hit home and provide a base from which to work.

It takes a great deal of patience, but getting all of the necessary information and building a solid starting point will not only help you throughout the project, but also reassure the client that they made the right decision.

Feels Left Out of Process Link

Client feels left out of the process.8
“They never feel ‘in the loop’ — so to solve this, I try to call them each week for an update and a chat.” (@jaaved9)

Communication is the foundation of any successful client relationship. When this foundation starts to slip, the relationship begins to crumble. Starting a project on the same page as the client is easy, but staying on the same page throughout the project requires tenacity.

At the beginning of each project, create a calendar outlining a timeline of events for the project. The calendar should explain when the client can expect certain tasks to be completed and when they will need to provide certain information. A calendar is just the start to keeping the client in the loop; it should be followed up with regular emails and phone calls. If you are making a change that will take up to a day or two, send a quick email to let the client know. A quick email takes only a minute to send, and it assures the client that you are indeed working. Simple and small efforts such as these keep the client happy and informed of the entire process.

Changes Mind Midway Link

Client changes their mind midway through developments.10
“Clients agreeing to the brief and all suggestions, and then changing their mind when they actually see it built.” (@hawkpie11)

It’s bound to happen sooner or later: you start a project, things are going well, and then the client gets a new idea. They request that you scrap what you’ve done so far and move in another direction. All of your hard work and effort, which the client originally wanted, is wasted — or so you suspect.

In reality, merging what the client originally wanted with the new direction may be completely possible. Keep an open line of communication and work out the reasoning behind the new direction. What they want might not be far off from what you’re actually doing, and mixing in a few new details may not be too difficult.

The initial shock of a request for a new direction is often worse than it seems. Keep a good attitude, and work it out with the client professionally. If the client refuses to meet you in the middle, you should have a solid contract to back up the project, and bill them for the extra work accordingly.

Doesn’t Understand Web Design Link

Client does not have a general understanding of web design and development.12
“General lack of knowledge.” (@robbclarke13)

When I take my car into the shop for a repair, the mechanic knows to speak to me in terms I will understand. If they go into detail about how my carburetor is not getting the right fuel-to-oxygen intake ratio of 14.7:1, then I look at them as though they are speaking a foreign language. The same is true with our clients. If I explain to them that the layout is based on a 12-column 960-pixel-wide grid, in which everything in the left column needs to stay within 220 pixels, then they would look at me as though I was speaking a foreign language as well.

Our job as web designers is to educate our clients. That is neither easy nor glamorous, but working with an educated client is much more pleasurable. When a client fully understands what you are doing and why you are doing it, then they are much more welcoming of your changes, and they’ll often even offer quality suggestions. Remember, what is obvious to you may not be obvious to them, so be as accommodating as possible.

Doesn’t Provide Enough Information Link

Client does not provide sufficient details or information.14
“Asking specific questions and getting vague replies, then clients thinking you’re slow in some way when you ask again.” (@Shellra15)

Client requests are not uncommon. If a client is not a fan of a blue button, they will tell you so. Being such a polite designer, you change the color of the button. But upon changing it, the client mentions that what they really meant is that they want the button to stand out more. Again, being the polite designer, you make it stand out more. Following this change, the client says that you are getting closer to what they want but that they would like to see the button in blue. Not so politely anymore, you want to know what the problem is. Your button was blue to begin with — what really is the problem?

This type of situation happens all too frequently and is extremely frustrating. The client thinks you are senseless for not understanding what they want, and you think the client is ignorant for not giving you all the necessary details. The quarrel could go on for ages, and no one would win.

When a client provides insufficient detail, go back to them and explain in great detail that you are not too sure what they are looking for. Explain that the more information they give and the better they describe what they’re looking for, then the better you can deliver what they want. Ask for an example or approximation of what they’re looking for. Make sure they understand that the more guidance you get, the better. If you feel you are not getting the details you need, don’t be afraid to jump on the phone with them to hash out the details. Playing the guessing game is the quickest way to burn out. Avoid it at all costs.

Expectations Are Too High Link

Client sets too high of expectations.16
“How about expecting the earth on a shoestring budget and wanting it by 5:30 pm.” (@fruitymilk17)

One of the most difficult parts of being a web designer is managing client expectations. Clients will often come with a list of requests that they presume is not all that difficult to achieve… and that they expect will turn their website into the next best social network. On top of a laundry list of demands, the client also informs you that they are working on a very limited budget and short timeframe. To them, you “do this kind of thing all the time,” and so doing it for them should be a walk in the park. Sadly, they are wrong, and no one but us is at fault.

Christina Krasovich puts it best: “If you don’t manage client expectations, you will never exceed client expectations.” If we do not regularly communicate with our clients about what we are doing and what is feasible, then no wonder they think we have the power to move oceans. Continually keep them informed of the project’s progress, and discuss complications as they arise. A client who is kept in the dark will not know how difficult anything is to accomplish. They will be dumbfounded when you balk at a request.

When negotiating a new project, explain to the client the difficulty of what they are requesting. Let them know that the task they would like to be performed requires time and money to complete. Correctly managing expectations keeps the client at bay. Exceeding expectations will have them praising you.

Struggles to Pay on Time Link

Client struggles to pay on time.18
“Paying on time is my biggest difficulty with clients, especially with larger companies.” (@thefunkhouse19)

Staying afloat is extremely difficult when a client struggles to pay on time. Even one late payment is enough to cause a great deal of suffering. But as in any industry, when you take on a job, you run the risk of not being paid in full. You never expect not to be paid, of course, but you can take certain steps to soften the blow when a client struggles to pay.

To begin, keep your expenses as low as possible. Do you really need an account for stock photography, or are enough free resources online for you to work for the time being? Just because your income is at a certain level does not mean you need to spend it all. Save your money for operational costs the next time a client pays late.

Also, write a solid contract, and request a decent deposit before starting. If a client is sluggish about making a deposit, this may be a strong indication of things to come: proceed with caution. In the contract, clearly state when payment is due and what are the penalties should the client pay late. Review this part of the contract with the client before signing it, making sure they are fully aware of the penalty.

Be open and honest with the client about payment. Stay on top of them, pleasantly reminding them when their invoice is coming up and when payment is due.

One Day At A Time Link

At the end of the day, the very least you can do is treat your client with respect and hope they treat you in turn. All of the communication and assistance in the world will not mean a thing if it is done with contempt.

Some clients will be rougher than others, and that’s fine. Keep your head up, and don’t give in. Continue to work with them, educating them, making compromises and working together. When you and a client are happy with each other, the opportunities are endless. Before shrugging off the next client who throws a fit, take a different approach. With a little extra effort, you never know — they may just end up being the client of your dreams.

Additional Resources (And Laughs) Link


Footnotes Link

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

Shay Howe is a professional web and user interface designer currently living in Chicago, IL. He writes about web design in his own blog over at letscounthedays and would love to hear from you on Twitter.

  1. 1

    lol, interesting.. the customer is always right
    the client is king

    • 2

      We are the trusted advisors, and it is our job to to educate clients, as the author wrote above….not only on what we are doing, but what they should be doing.

  2. 3

    Thanks for this article. Very timely as I have a web client who is currently doing my head in, and I wonder what I could have done differently to manager her a little better.

  3. 4

    Well put but there are some inconsistencies. There are some particular situations like the ones where there is a low budget and hight expectations where you need to stop working for that client and end the job, or not take it at all, as it will most likely be a long, frustrating project where the client will be … from hell… and you will end up doing a lot of work for very very little pay (maybe even no pay).

    There are clients to stay away from and situations that can’t be resolved trough the above magic in the article.

  4. 5

    Great read!

    Budget will never be enough if one estimates it exactly. It has to be a little bit higher just in case they throw in something new during development, then you know you are well covered to some extent. Also if you suspect a client will be difficult, try getting 50% down payment, and make sure the contract is non-exclusive. That way, if they don’t collect on time, you are at liberty to sell it elsewhere at a good price. To ensure a 90% smooth run, the contract should spell out exactly what you are supposed to deliver.

    Keep it up smashin mag!

  5. 6

    Thanks for this article! I’m in the process of building a web-design company and this is really helpful.

    And not only that, but as a fashion stylist this is fantastic as well, the same rules apply!

  6. 7

    Indeed! Im with a client from hell right now. It has come to the point where I’m the cursor in Photoshop that she controls. All Web standards are out the window cause she does not know them. Its sad that I need the money cause else I would have fired her. This is not a good project!

    Thats the only thing I think is “wrong” about this article. Sometimes its better to let go than to invest all that money and time in a project you are not happy about or not making money on. Better to look for another client that will pay accordingly than to work with one who wont.

  7. 8

    I regularly have an issue with content.
    Customers want a web site designed.
    I quote – explicitly – for what is included; whether that be graphics, logos, icons, layout, number of template pages. I also list all requirements prior to starting.

    But, some clients seem to think if you have built a site design for them, that that will automatically include not just content migration, but also content creation, reworking existing images and the like.

    It’s like asking a builder to construct a house for you, then asking them to decorate it and move all teh furniture in for free because “all houses have stuff in, don’t they?”

    At least they don’t write out the content on a notepad, scan it into their computer and send over a jpg…..

    Oh wait. My last one did that too….


    • 9

      I had a large project earlier this year where the clients failed to deliver photos, and their “content” consisted of a page of keywords. I thought I had my bases covered in the contract with the required deliverables listed in detail. My only guess is they just didn’t read it, or they just kept delegating the task to someone else.

  8. 10

    Thank you for a well-written article, Shay!

    Too often we just list “Top 10 Client Problems” or bash the general “idiocy” of clients. Some articles will suggest working with them but this one actually outlines how to work with clients.

    And writing from our point of view as clients too was a great way to get the point across (i.e. the mechanic and the fuel-to-oxygen intake ratio, haha).

    Again, thanks. :D

  9. 12

    This is a brilliant post, and an excellent read!
    There will always be clients that would fulfil any if not all types here…there have been some that do my head in, and I just keep telling myself to smile and explain a little more thoroughly, but there are some that don’t appreciate the explanation and only want you to do the work quick, fast, and cheap.
    This industry is like any other industry, you get paid for your expertise, but some just seem to think that it’s possible to pull some work out of your backside and call it great work; process doesn’t seem to be appreciated as much. I don’t know how many times I’ve been on the verge of blowing up!

    Anyway, thanks again for this post! Will surely refer back to this for guidance in the (near) future.

  10. 13

    I have to say, Smashing articles are the only long ones that pop up in my feed that I truly read all the way through. Thanks for being such a fantastic resource!

    I feel like the point on communication and keeping the client very much in-the-loop is a big one, and one I could make a larger effort to do, myself. A client never likes to have to email you and ask what’s happening.

  11. 14

    My favorite clients to work with, are those who want rush coding projects. They always pay very fast and good. Of course, I can code quickly enough, while still deliver quality.

  12. 15

    Completely agree with Mary and really enjoyed reading through your post.

    The “expectations” piece is one I learned many years ago. I don’t want to the lack of client’s understanding to damage our relationship. We take extra time to educate our clients on all aspects of our internet marketing and or social media project so they know what to expect. We have found that sharing case studies of similar projects really help paint the story around what to expect.

  13. 16

    A great way to educate your clients and give them proper recommendations is by showing them wireframes of their site. However, it doesn’t stop there. Annotating your wireframes with reasons why users will benefit from each design decision on your wireframes is key.

    This article shows you how to annotate your wireframes properly.

  14. 17

    Nice article. I have had a few bad experiences with clients but its important to be patient and understand where they’re coming from. They are paying you after all. But sure, it can very frustrating sometimes.

  15. 18

    Thanks for this great article! I havn’t really started working properly with clients, but from my experience, all I can say is that – If you are good at something, don’t do it for free. I designed some posters for the fest of my college but it was a bad experience mostly.
    But I’ve learnt my lessons, thanks to you guys and the circumstances.

  16. 19

    I don’t like the phrase “the client is always right” An absolute indicates that if they made you create a $10,000 website and then wanted it for free, that they had every right to. There are plenty of times where the best thing to do is to politely cut a troublesome client.

    The client is not always right; this isn’t even close to a truism to me.

  17. 20

    the main thing is that clients see the design but don’t understand it. that’s why i always write a bit of a specification alike thing-o, explaning why stuff is positioned here or there, why the colors, yada yada, sometimes some irrelevant statistics to support the idea.
    it works two ways:
    a) _mainly_ clients see this as a thing which should work, not just the thing which should look nice. after reading the specs it becomes more technical, like there’s an actual science behind it. they read the thesis, google a bit and come to understand what i did and why. it becomes logical so it can’t be wrong.
    b) when you don’t know enough about electronics to repair a radio you don’t do it yourself, you pay someone to do it. after reading the specs the design isn’t just “clicking” or “making an image” – it becomes something they can’t understand. so why make yourself look like a dumbass, talking about designing? no… no… it’s better to accept it the way this nice mister says.
    maybe it is a bit of a spin technique but it works.

    of course it’s not like i won’t change anything they don’t like – they are still the clients. but if i see that the design goes downside in quality or attractiveness and i know i won’t add such a thing to my portfolio (because it looks ugly) then i have to intervene somehow, right?
    unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to work with corporate gigs. too many people messing with the design… can’t control them all.

  18. 21

    Sometimes unfortunately you may have to fire a client if you feel that things are not working out. I don’t believe it is worth the aggravation or any amount of money if the client is causing you that much stress. You are supposed to be in business for yourself because you didn’t want to work for someone else and deal with their crap. As a business owner you have a choice, you choose who you want to work with. Many times even though I have felt financially strapped I have chosen to not take on a client when they showed early signs of being a PITA. If don’t compromise your values you leave room for the “right” clients to show up for you when you need them.

  19. 22

    Being a business with a long term strategy, it’s become a daily affair and sometimes a struggle to juggle between the two; dream clients and bad clients. But with the right amount of inspiration, we are able to educate internal staff to handle most situations with delicate care.

    This is helped us build and strengthened our client – us relationships
    over the years.

    This article is great and it’s related links too for those feeling discouraged.

  20. 23

    All of these things can be avoided with contracts and very clear expectations, as well as being a bit selective – you simply shouldn’t take on clients that are not a good fit for you as a designer or as a person. If they want to change their minds – OK! The contract states once a proof is approved, another one is extra $$. They don’t know what they want? That is what your awesome quote form is for that has 20 questions aimed precisely to get that information from them, and if they still don’t know, that is Creative Freedom. High expectations and payment are also managed by contracts and up-front expectations. In fact, I only ever have these kinds of problems when dealing with corporations and never with individuals. The client is NOT ‘king’. Your mutual relationship is, and as soon as it becomes one sided in either direction, it is setup to fail either because you get underpaid and overworked to satisfy them, or because they feel disrespected. The answer to handling clients is simple – balance.

  21. 24

    I try to do everything right, contracts are strict and clear, I have regular communication with my clients, I deliver everything on time on well above spec but I still can’t get a client to understand the need to pay on time.

    I have clauses in my contract saying that the site will get pulled down if the money isn’t paid 10 days after the due date, clauses that are clearly described and shown to the client and signed by them but still every client pays late. It is seriously doing my head in. How do you get a client to respect that a due date isn’t some wishy-washy guideline for them to start thinking about paying you?

    • 25


      I think it’s all about respect. When a client signs a contract with a world-known car manufacturer, they know that these people will hold them to the letter of the contract. Because they don’t have that respect for small web development teams (or even large ones), they feel they can worm their way around, provide excuses or just act in a way to break terms of agreement.

      If we enforce the agreement, they are angry with us; this is misdirected anger, since they should really be upset with themselves, since they knowingly broke a signed agreement, and there are repercussions to their actions. But nowadays, it’s darned rare to find someone who’ll take personal responsibility for their actions.

      I try to live my life the other way; if I backed out of a parking lot and hit another person’s car, I (have) waited 2 hours for the person to come out (was in a mall parking lot so going didn’t know what store they went in) just so I could give them my information and pay for the damages. When they thanked me for my honesty and said I didn’t have to pay anything, I stood firm and insisted, cause that’s just who I am; nobody should have to pay for my mistakes. Our problem clients feel that WE should pay for their mistakes. It’s a question of accountability, IMO.

      • 26

        i dunno about respect or some type of renown – it certainly helps to keep higher wages. this way or another THEY hire YOU. in eyes of the client this builds a certain kind of hierarchy. still, many clients think of designing as “clicking in photoshop” and will treat you as a tradesman. they quite often don’t understand the process. that’s why you have to explain it to them and show that it’s not just “clicking”, they start thinking about as some kind of “science” and treat you as a “professional”. then they become more open to suggestions.
        just like it’s said in the article – you know things they don’t know about, so you have to help them understand your work.
        let’s say that you don’t know what a TV set is but it’s popular to have one. you’ll chose the one looking the way most appealing to you. however, you don’t know anything about it’s functionality. so you’ll keep on browsing and browsing until you find something you’ll chose. but it’s still an empty product – it just stands there in the corner, but you don’t know the matrix size, how to use the remote. you don’t even know if its’ color is right with the color of the walls.
        in other words: you don’t pay heavy bucks for any product you don’t know how to use or even what it is, right? you may buy it after someone explains you how it works.

  22. 27

    Doesn’t Provide Enough Information:

    I understand the blue button example is just an example BUT I feel much of the misunderstandings that occur when a client reviews a design comp is related to the fact that the comp did not have a thorough description attached to it.

    I make it a point to fully explain my design decisions and how they relate to overall design scheme. Example:

    “We have decided to reserve the blue button style for all purchase and checkout links sitewide. In contrast, simple links that are not related to purchases (contact us, blog etc..) will have a green button style.”

    At this point, the client will be more informed and apt to give you more definitive feedback.

    It is also always reassuring for a client to know that critical thinking and reasoning went in to the design. This builds trust and helps to keep you and the client on the same page.

    • 28

      Garrett you make a great point, information sharing is a two way street. You cannot expect to get a lot of detailed information from a client if you yourself have not provided them with the proper understanding of the material at hand. It is hard for a client to formulate an opinion or provide you with feedback with out truly understanding what they are supposed to conscious of.

  23. 29

    Grade A Websites

    September 26, 2010 5:46 pm

    Getting something in writing is always a good idea.

  24. 30

    Edgars Zagorskis

    September 27, 2010 12:17 am

    I wonder if pope Julius II also was dictating Michelangelo how to paint ceiling of the Sistine chapel :)
    But seriously, there are many (gozillion) pixelf***g clients who know best just because they are used to be those who know best the every aspect of their business. In such cases i better do what they want and take $$$ rather than educate uneducationable individuals.
    Some weirdos are happy with the design that was created in mid-90’ties and doesn’t want change anything because their customers are also senile weirdos and slightest change in layout will drive them crazy.

  25. 31

    I hate these articles that suggest there’s always a touchy feely solution to every problem client. Unfortunately if you’ve been in the industry long enough you will ultimately come across one where you just can’t use a stock “solution” like those above.

    You might want to check out this article I wrote which offers a counter point that the client is always right :

  26. 32

    I have to say one of the worst problems is a client that doesn’t know what they want. Especially, when the decision maker refuses to talk to the designer. (Having to go through their marketing person.) There really isn’t any way to pull those bits of information out of the client as to what the problem really is. Often I’ll get back, the client doesn’t like it. Why? He just doesn’t. That is definitely one of the harder things to work with.

  27. 33

    Great post.

    In my experience, many of these issues boil down to not investing the necessary time to accomplish them. We must continually remind ourselves that in our race to hit deadlines and exceed expectations, we must also keep the client informed every step of the way and spend time doing all of these little things.

  28. 34

    It could be a good idea to try and get e-mail confirmation of a prototype, before starting any development work.

  29. 35

    I found reading this article very interesting because I’m a client struggling to deal with a problematic relationship with an in-house web design team. Essentially, though my organization wants to overhaul our site and stakeholders have submitted a list of problems we would like to address in a new version of our site, our web design team refuses to provide: any indication of a timeline, a list of deliverables that they expect to produce, the information they need from us to provide to them to do their job, etc., and as a result the site is being redone piece by piece, very, very slowly, and it just gets further out of date. I want to be a good client, so I’m interested in knowing what I should typically expect from our web team. Can anyone provide good examples/best practices in formalizing the relationship between client and design team?

  30. 36

    Really great post, it’s left me thinking a little more before I start a project with a client. One thing I have to say is patience is the key!

  31. 37

    This was truly entertaining to read haha. We just finished with a hard client and we had to deal with each one of those issues. The project was completed on time and in perfect order but it could have been a smoother ride at times.

  32. 38

    love that bit about the blue button

  33. 39

    Ha! This post is amazing! As designers we all go through this stuff. Keep at it guys. I have written similar posts on our blog.

  34. 40

    All good, and true, points. And good advice as well.

  35. 41

    In the situation where the client asks you to make the button blue, you *are* given sufficient information and there are no cues to “explain in great detail that you are not too sure what they are looking for”. I think that the skill needed to succeed in situations like this one is to train yourself to pick up on the fact that you are going down this path when the client comes back the second time and says “no, I really meant that I want the button to stand out more”. It is at this point, specifically, that the yellow flag should start waiving in your mind and you should start to treat the situation differently. Because, after all, sometimes the client just wants the button to be blue.

  36. 42

    All the recommendations here are great.

    But most of them are more expensive with “difficult clients” than with clients that know what they want, that read the contracts and try to understand them, that do their part of the work (in time), that have some knowledge of webdesign, that do not need a reminder to pay the invoice etc.

    So, what do you do about that? Are projects with “difficult clients” more expensive for them?

  37. 43

    This article assumes that we web developers are rude.

    I’m sure most of us treat our clients with respect, send them emails regularly and try to educate them about web design. However, bad clients will continue acting the same way. They’ll always want things done right away, and they’ll continuously call you until it is done. They’ll tell you to work on their site but refuse to provide details of the work. They’ll come up with ridiculous business ideas and even worse design ideas and force you to implement them. When you try to reason with them, they’ll start complaining and say “such-and-such site does it this way!”, “if you can’t do it, how come eBay/Apple/Google/Amazon can do it!?” eventually you are no longer a designer or developer; you become their slave instead. “Do this! Do that! Fix this!” You comply because you want to keep them happy. But at what cost? If you yourself feel like sh!t inside, is it worth it?

    The fact is that some clients have no respect for web developers. They will never change because they want to control you, and they will never give up that control.

  38. 44

    Smashing Magazine depicts a make-believe world in which Web developers serve noble purposes by designing robust Web sites that make their clients happy. My question is, “Where are all these talented and ethical Web developers?” I have searched for ten years for a Web developer who would follow through on his or her promises to design a robust, dynamic, SEO-maximized Web site. I have paid high hourly rates (upwards of $140 an hour) and I have paid low hourly rates ($25 to $60 an hour), and I saw no difference in the outcomes.

    Every Web developer I have worked with has “learned on my dime.” Not one of them was the expert he/she claimed to be. Why is it so difficult to hire a professional Web developer who can get a job done, on time and on budget, and deliver expected results? In any other profession, i.e. electrical contractor, CPA, auto mechanic, furniture reupholster, etc., the work must be completed to the client’s satisfaction, in a timely manner, or else the contract is void. Web developers on the other hand, as least the ones I’ve worked with, have the freedom (and audacity) to claim they know what they’re doing, when they really don’t. Hours, weeks, months, and years can be wasted, while the Web developer(s) fumbles through projects in trial-and-error fashion, all the while stalling the client, and racking up unnecessary charges, never disclosing that he or she didn’t have the knowledge needed to solve the problems.

    If I want a house built or a kitchen remodeled or a yard landscaped, I can show a professional what the finished product should look like, and arrive at a mutual understanding that within a certain amount of time, at a certain cost, I will get what I pay for. Not true with getting a Web site designed, at least in my experiences. I don’t understand why I can’t select a Web site featured in a Smashing Magazine article and have a Web developer build me a similar one that works and is Search-Engine optimized. Then, after it’s built, if anything goes wrong, or Google Webmaster Tools can’t verify it or racks up numerous crawl errors, the Web developer will step in and immediately rectify the issues, at no additional cost to me.

    Smashing Magazine seems like the ideal venue for dependable Web developers to cultivate new client relationships, and for frustrated Web-site-seeking business owners (like me) to find a helpful (and talented) professional. I read the articles posted on Smashing Magazine about client-Web developer relationships. I read the comments from Web developers who loathe their clients for being unreasonable, hard to get along with, and slow payers. When I read some of these things, it is hard not to think of the Web developers I have worked with and wonder if, because of their failure to fulfill their commitments to me, they view me as a high maintenance type of client.

    I have been in business for 35 years and have maintained solid relationships with CPAs, building contractors, vendors, IT people, human resource managers, electricians, other business owners, printers, graphic design artists, advertising execs, and many others. Occasionally there have been bad apples. I had to take a cash register company to small claims court, for instance, for reneging on a contract to install a POS system (I won). However, in the majority of my business relationships, the professionals delivered what they promised. In ten years, I cannot say that about one Web developer.

    I keep returning to Smashing Magazine because it creates a world in which I would like to live. Yet it is like watching a movie at a cinema that portrays a story I wish were true, but the minute I walk out of the theater, it’s back to the real world.

    If a Web developer reads this comment and wants to adhere to the sound principles proposed in some of the good client-Website owner articles on Smashing Magazine, please contact me at If you are good at asking questions to find out what your clients want, if you are dedicated to educating your clients about the Web development process, if you can use an example of an existing Web site and replicate it, if you can deliver a project on time and on budget, and you can back up your work with a guarantee, I would like to work with you.

    Thanks for reading my post.



↑ Back to top