5 Questions a Project Manager Should Always Have Ready

Feedback is essential to any project that has stakeholders. Feedback communicates desires, requirements, ideas, emotions, and a whole load of other useful insight that will help your web project achieve its goals. There are multiple ways to gather feedback, and one of the best tools to equip yourself with is fairly standard: a good question.

Good questions, by my definition and as it relates to a web project, have three common aspects. First, a good question is open and does not lead the respondent into an answer. Second, good questions are revealing – they unravel information that otherwise would never have been known to you. And finally, a good question is conducive to active listening. In other words, the question you ask contains the right amount and mixture of substance to enable you to ask further questions and to relate back to the one answering, thus engaging you in the process and showing the respondent that you’re listening.

Here’s a sampling of five simple questions that you should have prepared at all times during a project.Keep Reading

Preventing Design Redirection in the Middle of Projects

Web design is a very subjective field where changing tastes and expectations can strip the gears of a project and cause you – the designer or project manager – a whole heap of annoyance. If you’ve ever been faced with a client, who after approving a design, decides to change direction, you know what I’m talking about.

For web designers and developers, and especially project managers, this is a tough nut to crack. We work hard to create a design that not only gains the acceptance of the client, but also works for the target audiences and true users of the site. Oftentimes, in the midst of the project’s final stages, clients may desire to change a color or adjust the header or request alterations to the layout of content. This is a time consuming barrier to finishing the project, and frankly, many clients don’t know what they’re talking about.

Nevertheless, design redirection occurs, and we live with it, pushing on to find the light at the end of the tunnel. What we can do, however, is manage projects in a way that prevents and reduces the potential for design changes further down the road.Keep Reading

When a Client Hates Your Work

I recently recorded a podcast that delved into the topic of difficult clients. Among the criteria I included to qualify a client as being difficult, I highlighted those who are overly critical of your work. However, I prefaced that criterion with the stipulation that the client must consistently hate ALL of your work.

Now, what do you do if a client doesn’t seem critical or difficult, and they truly do want to work with you, but they just don’t like your work?

It’s a tough question. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some clients on multiple projects where they approve nearly all my outputs except for that one outlier project in which nothing seems to look right in their eyes. So good clients–those who are fun to work with–can get stuck in a hate-everything mode, and unfortunately, the project will suffer as will your relationship with the client when communication becomes strained.Keep Reading

Managing Hacked Client WordPress Sites: Prevention, Reaction and Investigation

As project managers, web designers, and freelancers, we deal with a multitude of issues, especially when it comes to content management systems. For me, most of the issues arise in WordPress as it’s my choice CMS for clients. The most serious of these issues is dealing with hacked client sites where either spam has been placed, or more detrimental, malware.

So as project managers, web designers, and freelancers, we must by default become quasi experts in security. No problem. It adds more fun to the challenge.

Combating security breaches should fall into two camps (which are obvious if you’re a long-time reader of this blog): proactive and reactive. Proactive is preventing the problem before it occurs while reactive is after the fact and how to perform damage control.Keep Reading

Communicating Complex Concepts to Clients

Web designers, web developers, and project managers often find themselves in a situation where they must convey a complex or complicated subject to a client. This is where you need to hone in on your communication skills. Since most clients are relatively novice when it comes to the world of web creation, it requires a special attention to detail to ensure they fully understand the concepts you’re trying to communicate.

Getting the wrong message across can be detrimental to progress. Usually, when a client – or anyone for that matter – doesn’t comprehend a subject, they’ll make assumptions and draw incorrect mental maps. That incorrect interpretation can generate false expectations, or worse, dissatisfaction with the project’s progression.Keep Reading

When to Give Up on a Web Project

Contemplating the ProjectMost of the articles I read about project and client management deal with the positive aspects of the relationship. They offer tips and remedies for making everything work perfectly, and they try to give guidance on making sure your projects are fulfilling. There’s nothing wrong with these articles, and in fact, I’ve authored more than a few of them. However, what about those projects that just flat-out suck? You know. The ones that eat up all your time and subject you to a client who is never satisfied with your work and never compromising on his or her attitude.

Those projects stink, and it’s okay to give up on them.Keep Reading

Why Simple Planning Goes a Long Way in Your Web Projects

Milestones, to-dos, communication, deliverables. These are sometimes shouted out as the end-all solution to poor project management. However important these tools and methods are, they’re just tactics. What’s really needed to manage an effective web project is a plan and strategy.Keep Reading

The Art of Finishing a Project

Project FinishIf you’ve managed your share of web projects, then you’ve likely seen far too many fall apart or become snagged by delays in the end. These obstacles can make it nearly impossible to finish projects. There may be times when you don’t even know if the project is complete or not.

Believe me, we’ve all been there and will continue to experience that uncertainty in projects. Web sites are complex, and the job of creating them requires tons of flexibility. I’ve always said that the key to managing smarter projects is by being proactive and by communicating effectively. But what specifically can be done to finish those lingering projects and to be satisfied with the end result?Keep Reading

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.Keep Reading

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.Keep Reading