We all have clients from hell on occasions. This can happen because of many reasons but the main one is usually because we didn’t convey our message from the beginning.
Understanding what a designer does and what their role in the business of web design is, is probably clear to you but does your client understand it?
Let’s look at it this way. They come to you because they want a website. Do they know what is required? Probably not! Therefore, it is up to you to take the hour or two to run through the whole thing with them. Explain what your role is and what you expect from them.
Simple basic things are needed to actually explain to them that you need collaboration from them from the start and that once on a path, although small things can be changed you can’t change the whole site and start again.
You need to ascertain from them the basics of what brand you are working on and their overall total concept of that brand. Do they have any branding already in place? If so what is it and can you have samples.
If you look at branding Coca cola has stuck to their logo since day one. Pepsi, however, has changed theirs several times. Coca cola, as a result of their well known unchanging branding, is the resounding leader.
Make notes as you go along and not only give them a copy but make them sign it.
This makes it clear they understand you are being professional and keeping them in the picture.
Tell them you will make contact as soon as you have the wireframes ready and this is a bare bones outline of the way the site can look. At this stage, you can still change things, but later it will be too advanced without extra costs being added.
Make sure they understand that the logo will be the basis of the branding and will be carried right through the theme of the branding from favicon to their letterhead and business cards as well as their website and advertising material.
If they give you Carte Blanc with the branding you must make it clear that you will mock up the logo first and submit this for approval as everything will be linked to the logo.
This is particularly important if you feel you might be going to have a hard time with a client. That said you need to do it with every single client. Many of them have changed attitudes later when they have either discuss things with colleagues or family. If you clear your decks before starting you can save yourself a lot of grief later.
It can be amazing how attitudes change when they get influenced down the line. The ones with no ideas to start with suddenly are full of them, and they think because you are asking approval of the steps, they can change the whole design. This is why it is so important to have signed notes of the first meeting where all the steps are detailed to them, including the bits about extra costs for changes. Make sure you also stipulate interim payments so the bill doesn’t come all together at the end, and you are two months down the drain when they argue it.
I have had a client want the entire site changed when the last bill was presented. I personally think their dream of the website was costing them more than they had at that precise moment but in the end, I was out of pocket.
Don’t let that happen to you. Learn from my experience.