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Freelance web designer tips for handling clients

It is everyone web designers dream to become a freelance web designer.  The prospect of starting your own business, working for you and not a company or shareholder, makes all the difference.  It has all the ingredients of something that will bring in success, which is what it is all about.

Clients, and how you handle them will make all the difference to your freelance web designer endeavours.  Handle them well and word of mouth will lead to more work and better revenue, handle them badly, and your freelance career will be very, very, short.

It is essential to remember that there in essence you have clients that no what they want and clients who have a vague idea, but are not quite sure how they want the site to look or perform.  Lets look at the client who knows exactly what they want first.

Clients that no exactly what they want will probably be very direct and clear.  They may well have a list of their needs for their future site, and will expect you to be able to come up with the information at a click of their fingers.  The key thing to remember about this type of client is that they are results driven, and want answers now.  They are drivers, and drivers want to drive through a project from beginning to end.  So:

Never be late with quotations.

Never be late with delivery

Keep the client informed of all progress, no matter how small.

Try and be direct yourself.  Never say ‘I’m not sure’, always say ‘I’ll find out’, and then do so.  This kind of client will relate better to direct, prompt action, and negotiation, so try and tailor yourself to this.

The advantages of this kind of client is that they will give you direct instructions to work to, and providing you deliver when you have agreed, should be the start of a good professional working relationship.

The downside to working with this type of clients is that they are less tolerant if the project runs a little off the rails, and will try and drive down prices at every opportunity.

Clients who are a little vague on their needs should be handled slightly differently.  They will probably give you ideas rather than specific instructions, and your role here is to take the lead.  If you feel you have a client like this one, prepare a list of what you think the site should have, and run it past them.  Sometimes, you may feel that you just take the initiative and build something into the design that will benefit it, and in many ways this is not such a bad idea.  Most clients like this one will agree to it unless it goes against the grain of the site.  So:

Take the lead.

Try and work out what the client wants through the waffle.  You will get a lot of waffle.

Don’t be afraid to build features into the design.

The advantages of working with this client is that you really have an opportunity to dictate the project and allow your creativeness to flow, and they will not be so cost conscious.

The disadvantages are that ideas will not just be a singular process, but will keep emerging, so get ready for some pretty intense site editing sessions, probably up to a few days of site launch.  Do not be surprised if the site is completely different to the brief you had at the start.

Whatever kind of client you have you must always be professional, and hopefully these tips will help you in dealing with your clients.

8 Responses to “Freelance web designer tips for handling clients”
  1. Mccoskey

    I like this article and would like to say that: for those who have missed a lot because of failure to meet deadlines and clients strict expectations, get up. It’s not too late. Remember, better late than never.

  2. Ozzman Cometh

    Thank you very much Rich. These tips will surely help me handle my clients well.

  3. Carl

    Professionalism is key. Adjust to the client’s needs but don’t be afraid to make suggestions.

  4. Tollinci

    I am also a certified time-crammer. I set aside things only to know that they are already of deadline and worst, I got out of projects because of this.

  5. SmartArt Graphics

    Rich, I think this one nails it. Everything that you’ve written in here are really true, based on experience, and agree with everything you’ve written in here.

  6. Oliveria

    Another post that get the nerve out of me for being so true! I’m not capable of managing most of my time. I am able to do thing, it’s just that I put things away when it’s not yet their deadline.

  7. Reisch

    This is a good writing. I have missed a lot and wasted so much money, worst- time! But it’s fine, as long as you learn form your mistakes, it’s okay.

  8. Jeff

    I’ve had disagreements with clients before but in the end, it always works out. Just keep an open mind.

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