In Defense of Difficult Clients

by Rob Swan

67 Reader Comments

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  1. A well built solid cabinet would last longer than a cheap one right”¦ even though they may look the same on the surface? But you have to be prepared to pay for it right? Give the customer what he wants inside the budget constraints. If one is not prepared to learn about table less layout then surely you can’t afford to charge top rates.

    It is true we should question our methods and try to educate however the customers should get what they want.

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  2. I’m sure I’ll come up with my own style and preference of designing and getting the job done right.

    That sounds like a healthy attitude :) Good luck with it. The web develops at such a tremendous rate that we’re all WDiT’s whether we like it or not! ;)

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  3. There’s really more to clients then clients that “get it” and clients that don’t.  I think it was Paula Scher in “Make it Bigger” who talked about there being four essntial client types.  Think of a coordiate chart with extremes of smart<>stupid and meddling<>uninvolved.  These two axes cross so that you get four types: smart and excited, smart and uninvolved, stupid and excited, and stupid and uninvolved.  I’m paraphrasing the langugage—

    I think she was a bit more polite about the terminology—but the general idea stands.  Her main point in all of this was was that some of these client types will cost you money.  In my experience, the project for a stupid, meddling client will never finish on time or underbudget.  While I agree that they can provide practice for understanding good tenets of design, if you have options or can afford to wait for another job to come along, do so.  You will lose money (time) on a stupid, meddling client.  Stupid and uninvovled is not so bad and would still make for good practice.

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  4. Fellow philoso-mo-phizer,

    Great article. I can’t wait for you to compose “Part II”, when you post the comprehensive list of stupid questions clients ask and link to some web pages that pose answers. Then again, most of those links will point back to ALA articles! Good stuff…


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  5. Well when you take into consideration the reason we are here doing what we are doing is because of the client it puts a perspective on working with difficult people.  However, sometimes you have to weigh the opportunity cost of working with such an individual and sometimes you will find that it actually is costing you money to work for them.

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  6. Brad,

    Thanks for the comment, it’s spot on. Evaluating the opportunity cost is absolutely crucial in these situations. (I do think there’s a tendency for people to hurriedly underestimate the benefits of difficult clients – but it would certainly be a costly mistake to overestimate in a situation like this!)


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  7. It seems like, with a few exceptions, we all get the same questions.  I wish somebody would make some sort of educational cartoon (Donald in Standardsmagic Land? …not sure if anyone will catch that reference…) so we could just sit the client down in front of a TV and save ourselves the time and hassle.

    Because after all, their job is to make our lives easier, right? There’s nothing more tedious than a client who doesn’t know how to do design websites…

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