Your Client Hates Your Work and You Don’t Even Know

Take a moment to reflect on the very real possibility that the new web site you’re working on – the one you have declared a masterpiece in your mind – is in fact the bane of your client. They hate it, and you don’t even know it.

Why don’t you know? Perhaps they aren’t vocal and prefer to seethe in silence, or maybe they’re too busy to guide you in a more suitable direction. The fact is, they have chosen not to communicate this dislike of your work, which is a very big problem.

Some clients may never voice any concern, and instead just go along with the show. In the end, they’re left unhappy and with a site that they don’t think achieves their goals. Other clients may just go behind your back and hire another designer. Whatever the case, the client isn’t happy, and you’re left to pick up the pieces, wondering what went wrong.

How can we avoid this mess in the first place?

There are five simple, though effective, methods below that can help you to discover, address, and alleviate client concerns before they turn into a whirlwind of trouble.

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11 Ways to Prevent Angry Clients from Destroying Your Project

We’ve all had our fair share of angry clients. They’ll call or email, outraged that something has or hasn’t happened, dutifully heaping a big steaming pile of blame on your lap. And as good web designers or freelancers, it’s our responsibility to eat that blame and make everything right.

But what if we could avoid the mess in the first place?

It’s not easy, but it’s certainly feasible. Moreover, preventing client anger is something you should strive for, because no one likes dealing with angry people.

So, how can we prevent the anger? Below I’ve outlined eleven tried-and-true methods of proactively handling projects and clients before they succumb to strained feelings.

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Six Project Management Skills Every Web Design Freelancer Must Have

Project Manager SkillsManaging web design projects is one difficult job. There are communication and organizing issues, negotiation and networking, and most of all, a strong need for planning. Effectively wielding the skills necessary to implement a successful project can be painful. Sometimes you have to tell a client, “no,” and other times you have deal with a plan that’s falling apart. And if you’re a freelancer or small business, you’re probably doing a majority of the actual design and development work.

Then again, that’s part of the game and what makes project and client relationship management such a diverse and interesting field. Each day throws a new rock at you. You just need to be sure you can catch it.

What kind of skills does it take to make an effective web design project manager? I asked myself this and came up with six definitive qualities. I don’t think you need to master each one, but it doesn’t hurt to be constantly sharpening and refining these skills.

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Building Zones: How to Get More Done on Your Projects

Web designers that freelance or work at small companies usually have a myriad of distractions that take away from projects. Whether it’s a client technical support issue or billing management, it seems as if everything in the world is aligned against us. By the end of the day we look at our project schedule and realize that very little got done.

This seems to be the price we pay for the freedom of doing things our way. Fortunately, it’s an easy issue to overcome. I’ve outlined below proven ways to dedicate more quality time with your projects without sacrificing the other parts of your business. They’re proven because I’ve implemented them with success and am confident you can too.

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The 10 Traits of Highly Effective Milestones

Effective MilestonesI’ve written in the past about planning effective web design milestones, so now I want to delve into the actual elements that make up a good milestone. Milestones should be the meat of your project process for any web design or development engagement. They constitute your game plan and provide a clear roadmap for you and your client.

Since milestones are very much like goals, they should follow the SMART routine: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. I’ll discuss how you can apply SMART plus five other traits to your milestones to make them actionable and effective.

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6 Ways to Improve Quality in Your Projects and Reduce Stress

Project StressIf you’re like me, each new web design project looks like a fresh adventure to spin your creative wheels on. There are new challenges and ideas that get the mind buzzing. Sadly, this momentary bliss falls apart as I start thinking about everything it’s going to take to finish the project. My mind stops buzzing and goes into shut down mode. All of a sudden, I don’t even want to look at the project anymore.

That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but projects do introduce a bit of stress and worry. This can lead us to procrastination, unhappiness and reduced quality in our output.

Fortunately, all of those things are avoidable and I’m going to explain how.

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What I Messed Up in 2009 Design Projects and 6 Things I’m Changing for 2010

New Year Fireworks2009 was a great year in which I accomplished more than any other year before. However, the goal of this post is not to recount past achievements. Instead, I want to focus on what I did wrong in 2009 so that not only can I plan for my own changes in 2010, but hopefully help others avoid the mistakes I made as well.

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9 Things You Should Be Doing For Your Web Design Projects Over The Holidays

christmas-treeFor those who aren’t traveling over the holidays this season, this time represents a rare opportunity to get things done. Clients leave town, email is at a minimum and people don’t really expect much to get done.

Use this precious holiday time to get some critical project activities taken care of.

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Eight Ways to Combat the Content Crunch

writing-contentWeb design is an exciting field to be involved with. Many times, clients are relatively new to having a professional online presence, which leaves us a lot of room to be creative. The downside, however, is lack of content. Organizations that haven’t had a good web site before don’t have the copy needed to propel their new site.

The problem goes from bad to worse when we reach the end of the project only to realize there isn’t any good content. This is the content crunch and it can delay your projects indefinitely.

How can you avoid the content crunch? Below I’ve outlined some simple and effective tips to stop this problem dead in its tracks before it brings the project down.

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Planning More Effective Milestones in Web Design Projects

project-milestonesMost successful web design projects are organized into a system of milestones with each one representing a critical piece of the project. Milestones are simple in concept, but they can be tricky to nail down.

For example, how specific should we get with the milestones? If we get too specific, we risk breaking the project down into a chaotic mess of little chunks. However, if we aren’t specific enough, the deliverables become unknown and nothing gets done.

Finding the right balance is key. It takes practice and persistence, and it demands a lot of discipline from the designer or project manager. Milestones also vary from project to project. Larger projects require more milestones while smaller projects may only need a handful.

In my experience with many small, mid-sized and large projects, I’ve created a base list of milestones that I typically work with and adjust for my projects.

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