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How do you handle silly client requests?

Clients ‘creative’ input into the design of their sites

     
5:34 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I love doing what I do (web development and promotion), so does my business partner. But mercy me, some of the request we receive from our clients.

‘can we have that text in red, bold and underlined… also can we have it flashing’

‘I think the logo needs more… volume, can we have it chrome’

One of the common situations that I find most annoying is when new clients have a logo that some half whit (IMHO) has ‘designed’ and want us to base the design on that. I advise them that their logo is substandard but unfortunately invariably they have already proceeded to print thousands of pounds worth of stationary.

My question is this, what are you guys doing/saying to try to get some hold on your clients ‘creative’ input into the design of their sites.

I you don’t have anything to say that you think will benefit the operation of my company; I would still appreciate words of empathy with my situation.

With a head ache,

Paul

5:37 pm on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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If they're wearing a white belt and highwater pants, just zipper it and do what they want. They aren't going to get it.

Otherwise, tell them why you'd advise against it, or think they should go in another direction, and put it in writing. Then do what they ask.

6:22 pm on Mar 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I you don't have anything to say that you think will benefit the operation of my company

Considering the content of your post, isn't this a little contradictory? :-) I'll give it a shot anyway.

When you're starting out it's difficult to enlighten your customers. But I have found that if you go ahead with a crappy plan, it turns out crappy - they don't make sales, they get bad feedback, and in the end guess who they blame? "I paid YOU to fix this for me, what's the deal?"

I have no problem passing on a project where the customer refuses to listen. Part of making them listen, however, is in how you voice the problem. Example:

I advise them that their logo is substandard

I know you've probably put this to them in another way, but the way I would express a problem with a logo is to explain the concepts of what makes a logo work, and why this one does not. In this case, even though it has gone into print, you can rework the logo to a similar look and feel that is at least passable and in their printing rerun it can be updated.

The same is true of any design elements that fall off the wagon, to move a customer in a positive direction, use your experience and knowledge to define what is good AND WHY, and compare it against what they have now.

Even at that, some customers will still refuse to listen. So if I hang with a customer on a project, I carefully document problems I see coming, then when they say "hey some shark trying to steal your work says this element is bad because of this" I refer to "do you remember the email I sent you on [specific date] where you went against my advice?"

After a while you get a good sense of whether a customer is going to be more trouble than they are worth. You then say "I'm sorry, I can't help you, the constraints you have set forth on your project make it impossible to be beneficial to either of us."

But yeah, I've heard some doozies, and almost all of them reflect an attempt to voice an opinion on something they don't understand, and worse yet, focus primarily on presentation instead of function. "I don't want my website to be 'dead', ya know, just text and graphics sitting there, I want movement, I want it to look alive." That one's got to be my favorite recurring theme.

Of course I nix this one right off by asking them how they feel about pop up ads or when they try to see what's at the movies at [big search engine's] site. :-)

3:06 am on Mar 24, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have no problem passing on a project where the customer refuses to listen. Part of making them listen, however, is in how you voice the problem.

Very well said! When I first started out I would work with anyone, but after a while I discovered that being attached to failed projects simply because the client wouldn't listen costs you A LOT more money in the long run than you ever give up by turning down the work in the beginning.

I have found to grow my business I need to gather testimonials, a solid portfolio of work, and referrals from happy clients. Unfortunately if I end up taking on a client that simply won't listen to me or chooses to ignore my advice than I have found I like to refer that person to someone else...generally my competitor :)

Fortune Hunter

11:43 am on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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"I you don't have anything to say that you think will benefit the operation of my company"

Just re-read that line, sounds a little off when I read it back. I was typing quickly and was jokingly appealing for sympathy while feeling sorry for myself. Hehe, don’t want to sound like a (expletive).

Thanks for the replies, I haven’t had any project that I consider to be unsuccessful based on the simple grading criteria that they have received high ROI. It’s just that it kills me to know that I have to use their sometimes antiquated logos, etc. Perhaps I will push redevelopment harder and as you point out base the design on the current theme.

12:02 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I always ask for a "designed by" on my work. If what they want starts going in a badly designed direction I let them know I'll be removing the link. They are bound to ask why so I tell them because I'll be embarrassed putting name to it.

Makes 'em think ;-)

 

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