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Handling issues of feature creep with your client

Websites cannot remain stagnant for many reasons. Evolving information, better design features, the client’s own developing business or the nature of his products all contribute to evolving websites. Feature creep refers to having to alter or make changes to the website. This unenviable job usually falls to the lot of the designer.

There is no straight way to sort this out. The solution is situational. You have to identify the core issue based on your experience. Then decide how you should handle it. The changes could be related to simple syntax changes to basic functionality changes. A change in market sales figures or the introduction of fresh content will all necessitate amendments to the website.

Feature creep handling a lot to do with the communication level between the client and the designer.

Here are some simple tips to understand feature creep and resolve it:

1.    Learn to say no in a professional manner. For example, you could try saying something like “We had agreed to wind up at this point. What you are requesting would be beyond what we had agreed to”. This will keep the discussion in perspective.
2.    The focus should be on putting yourself across as a professional web designer or developer. The client will not understand the tediousness of re-doing code, technology hiccups or redesigning. He will not understand the issues that underlie making functional changes to the website. His attention will be on what he wants. You as a designer have to shift that focus and bring it back to you.
3.    Web designers have to be seen as problem solvers not as coding machines. The profile of yourself as a designer should be made explicit so as to convey that you are there to solve problems but not to engage in endless coding to accommodate impossible requests.

4.    Change the request statements into a tangible question which the client needs to answer. For example” I need more interactive messaging on my website:” may be rephrased as “ At which points would like interaction from the client?” or “I want more links.” Could become “which social networking sites would you like getting linked to?” This has two benefits: firstly it makes the client think about what exactly he wants and secondly the onus of the discussion shifts to the client. It also gathers more data on the issue that needs resolving.
5.    The last but final dilemma comes when the designer has to put it across to the client (and to other members of his team) that the entire website needs redesigning from the square one upwards. Sometimes, this can be easier to do than patching up all the leaks one by one only to find more issues within issues.

Instead of juggling with a Pandora’s Box, it’s a lot better to start afresh. But this is easier said than done. The client will not like additional costs, the team members will not appreciate the extra effort but it is ultimately to everyone’s benefit.


One Response to “Handling issues of feature creep with your client”
  1. Hakim

    There is no doubt that this is great article and tips, very helpful.

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