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

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.Keep Reading

15 Simple Warning Signs of a Bad Project (and how to think positively)

yield-signHere’s the deal. Designers should not accept every project that crosses their eyes. For five years, I was stuck in the mentality that every potential project was a chariot of gold ready to bring me unimaginable riches.

Wrong. I discovered through a series of poor projects that accepting everything is not a profitable strategy. I began to understand and value the concept of opportunity cost. Let’s say I’m working on a low paying project that, while bringing in some money, eats up all my time and leaves me exhausted at the end of the day. What else could I have done with my time? Could I have worked on a more rewarding project? Or perhaps hunted for more profitable business? I will never know.

This is not a foreign concept to most veteran designers. As you grow, you must become more selective about how you spend your time. But how can you screen potential projects to eliminate the problem ones as quickly as possible?

I’ve developed a set of internal heuristics that I run each new project through as a test. Keep in mind that sometimes a project with a small budget or a client with a demeaning attitude is not necessarily a deal breaker. You have to use your judgment and analyze your own opportunity cost. What else could you be working on?

When writing this post, I realized that most clients are actually good and that you should maintain a positive outlook in your project screening process. With that thought, I decided to amend my post to include a way to think positively about each warning sign.Keep Reading

How Far Will You Go for a Client?

The web design client is an interesting being. They are cut from many different clothes, and they come from all walks of life. Some are tech savvy and others seem like they’re stuck in the Stone Age. There are clients who need their hands held during every step of the web design process while there are others who are on top of everything.

No client is ever the same. And each client presents different situations and exercises that can really test your will.

How far will you go for a certain client? What level of service will you provide even if it falls outside the scope of your agreement?Keep Reading

Who’s the designer? You or the client?

I experienced two separate incidents this week in which I had a client complain about pretty significant things with my designs. Normally, during the mock-up stage, I’m all ears for critical feedback but these complaints surfaced after the sites had been designed and built. I guess that was just the frosting on the cake.

The more important thing is deciding who the designer is on the project. I’m serious. Is it the designer or the client? The client brought the designer on supposedly because they need a web site created. That’s the purpose of the designer and the job they have been paid to do. I can appreciate client input during the design process — in fact I wholeheartedly welcome it — but there comes a point when I just want to say, “Why did you hire me? You’re obviously a very capable designer.”

But then it strikes. Why are they doing my job?

There are a number of reasons I’ve discovered. Sometimes it’s because they’re a control freak and can’t let any detail escape their approval. Other times they just don’t know better. Actually, I guess those are really the only cases I run into.

There are different solutions I apply to these two situations. For the control freak, I have to stroke their ego. It sucks and I hate it, but if it gets the job done, then I’ll do it. These people are typically overbearing and at times annoying. The best way to deal with them is by reaffirming their status and — unfortunately — by running every little thing by them. I try to keep them in the loop every step of the way so that they feel involved and important. Usually, if I do it this way, I don’t get the major complaints at the end of the project. And if I do, I just explain the decision processes that we both went through.

The other type of client who doesn’t know any better just needs a little hand holding. Typically, strong communication and clear explanations of “how it is” will get them to calm down.

Finally, I find it important to just hold my own at times. If someone’s complaining about a design decision I made, I’ll look at them pointedly and say, “Look. This is my job. I designed it this way because I want to maximize the potential of the site. Here is the methodology behind my approach.. yadda yadda..” Well, I wouldn’t say it as bluntly as that, but you catch my drift.

This isn’t about feeling insecure because a client doesn’t like my work. This is about defending my profession and not letting someone who frankly doesn’t know anything about creating web sites take control of the project and destroy it. This is the cold reality of it.

Besides, would you ever tell your doctor how to do their job?