Keeping sane while dealing with crazy website clients

keeping-sane2You are about to read about some of the crazy things a web designer must do on the path to launching a website for their clients. First thing you must understand is that a web designer often is expected to read the minds of their clients. Clients often don’t know what they want, only that they want to be on the first page of Google search results within a very short length of time. Some clients may think that if they have a website that the money will just start rolling in. Sorry folks, it doesn’t work that way. 

Logos that came from the far side

One of the most challenging aspects of being a web designer is when a client brings you a logo that appears to have been created in Microsoft Paint and was created by the client. They have it plastered all over their business cards and they love the logo. As the web designer you’re already behind the 8-ball. You try to be subtle and suggest that it might be time for a refresh of their logo (to bring it into this century). You even offer to design a new logo for them (always charge a client for creating a logo). More often than not you must bite your tongue and create a website design around the logo. The requires you to make the other 95% of the website look amazing and hopefully detract from the logo in any way possible. The logos that originated as clip art are especially the worst, they show that very little time was spent on creating a logo. If only clients would trust us when we suggest that it might be time for re-branding and a fresh look and feel for their logo/branding. We are just trying to help them. And whatever you do, please do not use Comic Sans as a font in a logo.

Attack of the 50 foot Business Owner

Sometimes you’ll have a client that for some unknown reason wants themselves to appear very large on their homepage in front of a skyline or some scenic location. This breaks all the rules of proportion in design. No one should ever look like the radioactive 50 foot business owner that is taller than buildings and ready to go head to head with Godzilla. It’s a design trend that should be banished from existence. Unfortunately, the 50 foot business owner is still known to roam in the wild.

We need a website that Pops!

This is probably one of the most requested features that web designers get from clients. The funny thing is that there is no way for us to determine or define what makes a website pop! Is it the very large tag line at the top of the website? Is it a specific color scheme that is brighter than a neon sign? Or the wonderful wallpaper background that has a tacky repeating pattern? While all of these will get a consumers attention, they won’t get the right attention. A well balanced, carefully crafted website design that follows the tried and true principles of design is what makes sites pop or should I say…stand out from the rest.

Can you get my website on the first page of a Google’s search results when the site launches?

One thing that clients don’t understand is that getting good SEO (search engine optimization) is something that can take years to get right. They don’t realize that they must find their target audience and create marketing content that speaks to that audience. I’m always surprised that many business owners don’t realize that their website is just one part of their marketing plan (some clients don’t even have a marketing plan). While SEO for their website is important, even more important is original content on their website. You can build a website and do all of the right things to get the SEO for a website right and still not get traffic. Clients don’t realize it’s what you do after the website is built and the continuation of connecting with consumers through social media and off-line marketing is what will hopefully drive customers to their website. There is no replacement for communicating with their audience whether it is through a blog or a Youtube video. Customers want to know more about the business owner on a more personal level and feel like they have a connection with them. Then the client will see traffic to their site rise as the business owner becomes a trusted resource.

I like the website you’ve built but I have a few changes and tweaks.

So you’ve finished a masterpiece for the client and think it looks great. The time has come to show it to your client. They reply with a dozen changes. You try to persuade them to not use a bright and obnoxious color in the header of their site. But the client knows what he wants and wants the changes made. You spend time basically destroying and de-constructing your masterpiece and then present them the website with their changes completed. They don’t like the site design. You then receive an email saying they found a website that they think looks great and they want their website to look just like that million dollar website they’ve found. You kindly remind them that it might be time to re-quote them on the price of their website (might be time to add a few zeros to the end of their quote). They reply that they want to use your original design after all. (if only they would trust their web designer in the first place!).

Can you build a website for us ASAP?… We need it to be ready for an event that we are sponsoring within a few days and our new website address is all over our marketing materials.

This shows lack of planning on the website clients part. I’ve run into this multiple times and it is stressful for both the web designer and the client. Please think ahead and realize that if you want a website done right, don’t leave it as the last thing on your list of things to do when preparing for an upcoming event. The end product will be a rushed project that will only be as good as the time available. Web designers can do some amazing designs in a short time but we aren’t miracle workers. We like to think through a website design and not rush to meet a client’s predefined deadline (that took no consideration into the time it takes to build a website).

Can you write content for our website?

So… not only do clients want web designers to design their website but they also sometimes want us to be copy writers for the content on their website. While it’s one thing to maybe do some minor editing of content, to write content for the client will hardly ever work out. As the designer you aren’t an expert in the client’s field of business, so please stick to what you are good at…..web design.

Designing websites for clients can feel like an exercise in futility but occasionally you’ll have great clients that make it worth your time and effort. Keep calm and web design….

Do you have any client horror stories to share? Please post them in the comments.

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