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  1. #1
    SitePoint Evangelist adesignrsa's Avatar
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    How to deal with a pedantic client

    Pedantic
    -Adjective
    Meaning: Overly concerned with minute details or formalisms.

    You should all have encountered the pedantic client. The one that wants every pixel accounted for and in the same place in every browser on every platform on every computer on the planet. The kind that makes you change the font size a brazillion times and eventually comes back to the size you initially proposed. The "not that kind of blue" yet cannot supply an RGB value, hex code or even a pantone colour code. Yeah, you're thinking of someone aren't you?

    If you haven't met this client yet, fear not, it's just a matter of time. Dealing with this species of client is what you should fear. If you don't treat them right, you'll end up having them suck your pocket dry and remove your will to design websites and even live!

    I would guess avoiding this predator is the best plan of action, but not always possible. Sometimes they only bare their fangs half way into a project. Sometimes you take the job out of desperation.

    Okay, enough metaphorical ramblings. How do you deal with Mr(s) Pedantic? My simple answer is restrictions. Restrict the number of concepts, restrict the number of revisions, restrict the amount of time allocated to the project... restrictions.

    Not always the easiest thing to do, but in the long run you'll see the need for this. If you lay down the roadmap for the client, and explain each step as clearly as possible and get a signature on a dotted line accepting that (s)he understands, things should be a bit smoother. Here is our roadmap for what it's worth. It may not be perfect, and you may work in a different way, but as long as the client knows what to expect there should be fewer surprises.

    How do you deal with Mr(s) Pedantic?
    Ross Allchorn
    Web Consultant
    www.allchorn.com
    Twitter - @allchornr

  2. #2
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    I would do two things with a client like that:

    1) Explain to them in a supportive and helpful way that there is a diminishing return on planning every little detail of a website project, and it's frequently better to leave some of the very small details open so that you can address them in a later 'refinement' phase. Remind them that it's nearly impossible to plan everything, so some refinement and polishing is almost always necessary so you might as well leave some of the tiny details out if they aren't worth discussing during the early steps. You can also explain to them that you have considerable experience with this and will be happy to help them to strike a good balance between keeping momentum and being overly pedantic (micromanaging) the project, and that to be over-detailed beyond the usual level could make things expensive. Be very supportive and try to find way to explain these things to them in a way that is helpful and not annoying to them (that's not easy!)

    2. Keep trying to educate them, but push on with the project along the way. If you have to, just let them micromanage you and do you best to push on. If it's just killing your profit margin, explain that to them and increase your fee. If you just can't take it anymore, end the engagement. Regardless, try to avoid the 'constantly pushing back' kind of relationship that can result from this kind of client.

    Very frustrating! Good luck

    With these kinds of clients, I usually just let them do what they want to do. Since we bill by the hour it doesn't matter all that much if a client wants to spend hours on tiny details - it increases our profits, actually. Those kinds of clients are never as satisfied so it's still best to educate them, but there's no reason to lose money on a deal like that. When big bills start rolling in, they usually either find a cheaper vendor who will bend over backwards for them, or chill out.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

    SAGEWING LLC - QUALITY WEB AND MOBILE APPS. PREMIUM OUTSOURCING SERVICES.
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  3. #3
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    shoot them lol

  4. #4
    SitePoint Addict
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    I have yet to have that particular form of client explained so perfectly. Its like you were describing the same person!

    Everything that sagewing said but it doesn't help me on the initial design if they nickel dime me on details because the initial design is a set price. If it takes me longer its my fault for not bidding higher if I get it done faster (have yet to do that) then its a bonus for me. I finish on time I just the hours put into it end up being more than I thought.

    I have it clearly written in the contract for two revisions after I deliver the final product. But with this particular breed it really doesn't help unless you want to whip out the contract and say "I'm done!". This helps nobody. If he walks or I fire him when 98% of the website is done (or 100%) we are both out time and money. I take half down with contract and other have on delivery.

    What I ended up doing is switching him over to my server putting up what I consider a 100% completed site after many of the revisions you talked about. I delivered more than the original contract called for. I let him know that any additional work would be charged hourly. I have yet to hear from him after the site was moved to my server and he sent me the final check.

    Now, I will gladly change background colors while on the phone and telling him to press refresh because its hourly. Please don't laugh to hard I actually did this with said client. And it ended up the same color as the one I originally put up.

    I feel for you, I really do

  5. #5
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    This is one of the reasons I will always let people know up front that pricing is based on hours worked, and billing will reflect that. Payment must continue in order for work to continue.

    I actually believe that detail oriented customers care more about their site, and most likely the results will be very good in the end. I don't mind people that are seeking quality, so long as they understand I need to be paid for my time.


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