Being a client is not easy. It takes a lot of trust to dish out money for services with hope that you’ll get what you’ve paid for in a timely manner. Nervous tension often results in clients being reactive, emotional and overly demanding. This severely damages relationships and can hinder a consultant’s ability to produce quality work. Today, we’ll review ways to be a better web design client.
1. Strive for Mutually Beneficial Relationships
Any professional relationship is a two-way street. You get what you give and must always aim to create harmony with consultants and vendors. When paying for services, step back and put yourself in the shoes of the person or company doing the work. Treat your consultants well and they will be eager to please you. The following 9 tips are all essential to building mutual respect and strong relations.
2. Be Respectful
No relationship can be mutually beneficial without respect. Talking down to consultants or being overly demanding or pushy will only reduce the quality of the end product. A consultant who is fed up with a client will want to end the project as quickly as possible, and certainly will not be inclined to go the extra mile. Also, a psychologically damaged designer will not be in their “happy place” and will not be able to fully focus on your project.
3. Give Constructive Feedback
Providing feedback such as a design critique is often tricky for those not accustomed to speaking to designers. Remember, designers are artists who pour their souls into their work. Ripping their design to shreds will destroy their confidence and cause tension that may not be reparable.
Always point out the positives before you dive into any suggested edits. When asking for changes, it’s critical to be specific and leave ambiguous commentary out of the discussion. For example, “make it pop” is not helpful feedback. Instead, say something like, “let’s add some splashes of color to the icons and buttons”. This will give your designer the ammunition they need to hit the mark on the next deliverable.
4. Be Realistic About Expectations
Many clients enter a relationship with unfair assumptions about cost, timelines and deliverables. You should only expect to receive the deliverables outlined in the scope of work. It is unprofessional and unfair to expect more than you’ve paid for. If you’ve negotiated for a website only, don’t demand a free logo. If your designer gives you a 3-week timeline, don’t threaten to not pay if he/she can’t finish in a week. Additionally, you get what you pay for, especially when it comes to high-end website design. Don’t expect a Ferrari if you’ve paid for a Toyota.
5. Treat Vendors As Partners
Web consultants want to see you succeed, and you should echo the sentiment through actions and words. It’s the old “help me help you” adage. A successful client/consultant engagement should feel like a partnership, where both parties have a vested interested in helping one another come out on top. Many clients treat web professionals like lowly servants who are on the same level as the cable guy or dry cleaner. This does not facilitate healthy or productive relationships.
6. Pay On Time
If you’ve received deliverables that meet the scope of work and abide by the terms and conditions spelled out in your contract, it’s time to pay your consultant. Paying on time builds confidence and creates a sense of trust. Even if the relationship is good, if you are late on payment, there’s a strong chance your consultant will balk at the opportunity to work with you in the future.
7. Never Expect Or Ask For Free Work
There is nothing worse than a client asking for or demanding free services. Often, a consultant desperate to please will give free work, but it rarely works to strengthen the relationship. As a client, you won’t appreciate or respect free work as much as work you’ve paid for, and your consultant most likely won’t put in as much effort if they aren’t being rewarded.
8. Don’t Get Emotional
Clients often behave like adult babies. Having worked in the industry for many years, I could write a book on the emotional tirades I’ve seen clients throw. Yelling, screaming, abrupt ends to phone calls, legal threats and the list goes on. Emotional responses only escalate issues that could easily be solved by having an adult-like conversation. Stay calm and never expect an emotionally driven response to bear fruit.
9. Respond to Requests in a Timely Manner
Just like clients expect consultants to hit their deadlines, it’s critical for clients to live up to the same expectation. If a designer gives you a date for delivering all final site copy and tells you they can’t complete design on schedule without it, don’t blame them when you provide the copy three days late. Don’t create double standards and always live up to your end of the bargain.
10. Give Referrals or References
Part of the client/consultant lifecycle involves giving referrals or references for a job well done. Always pay it forward by offering to provide (at a minimum) a reference or testimonial. Referring another client to your consultant is the holy grail, as it shows respect, trust and confidence in their work.