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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot detzX's Avatar
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    How to tell a client their work sucks? :)

    I'm developing something for a company and they just sent me the "branding" and I started laughing when I opened it up. Honestly it looks like something that was on the web in the 90's..bright large boring fonts and an animated walking ball. All of these are part of their image and they want them incorporated into the product(iPhone app) but I'm pretty sure in doing so will kill the app because the community(apple especially) is grally graphic oriantly and if you feed them something like looks run down and boring they wont take it seriously.

    Anyways, what's the best approach to bring this up?
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  2. #2
    SitePoint Guru htpc's Avatar
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    bright large boring fonts and an animated walking ball. All of these are part of their image and they want them incorporated into the product(iPhone app)
    What are they thinking of? Made me laugh just picturing it.
    Explain that websites have changed a lot of over the past few years, that simplicity works a lot better than cutesy animations. I think you have to be a little bit blunt and tell them that their ideas are outdated, and show them a mock up of what you have in mind. If they don't agree, show them a few succesful modern looking sites.
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  3. #3
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    You could make an entire blog about how much they suck. But it's been done before

  4. #4
    SitePoint Enthusiast scorpionagency's Avatar
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    Here's one way to handle the situation with tact.

    <--- Start Letter --->>

    Dear Client,

    I have been working on your project & came across the logo that you wanted implemented into the GUI. After analyzing & comparing it to your direct competitors markets I found that it was a little behind in times. Looking at this from a business standpoint in a dog eat dog world were it comes down to adapting, improvising, & overcoming ones competition whenever possible, without trying to sound too harsh, I might suggest considering a logo redesign for a more competitive branding campaign.

    Here are a few competitors I was researching:

    a competitor website
    a competitor website
    a competitor website

    Notice how they have incorporated their branding efforts (The Logo particularly)?

    I have no problems implementing your current logo, I just wanted to contribute my research findings so you can see what the competition is doing, thus aiding in the Targeted Marketing aspects of the project for branding purposes.

    Thank you again for choosing (Your name or company) for your design / development needs.

    <<--- End Letter --->>

    That's just a quick ruff draft, but it could prove to be effective without hurting their feelings & maintaining your credibility as an "Above & Beyond" designer / developer that cares about the success of their clients in competitive markets.

    Just my thoughts, hope it helped....

  5. #5
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    We have a some kind of "rule" which is "Tie the horse where the boss says"


    But don't forget to remove that site from your portfolio and don't leave your link on that site
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  6. #6
    SitePoint Enthusiast scorpionagency's Avatar
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    Ha, that's always an option as well mangiaphoto. I've found some clients to be very hard headed & stubborn myself. Though a good number of them are prepared to adapt to a changing world & eliminate any chances of becoming stagnated. Once a business becomes stagnated it falls behind in the growing & constantly adapting world of business, many times leading to failure.

    The old saying is::: When in business, Those who adapt to change, succeed, Those who become stagnant, Fail. :::

    I've found more clients understanding to the above than not. Once they understood, the transition to a more targeted business model went smooth.

    I do agree that most designers are not experienced in marketing / Advertising campaign development, nor data-mining techniques used to research & analyze a businesses strong & weak target markets. However, I do Believe it is a very good skill set to have, thus boosting ones own client / designer relationship & generating additional repeat / referral business.

    Just my 2 cents, everyone's different. If we were all the same, the world would be boring!

  7. #7
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    It's worth tactfully suggesting that web standards have changed, and they're out of date

    As long as you're not overly blunt telling them their current stuff is crap, they'll either respect your honesty and take your expertise on board, or they'll ignore it and want the work done the same.

    But at the end of the day, if they want to be stubborn and keep the current stuff, then just work with it and don't include it in your portfolio As long as they are paying, and are happy with the final results, it's their loss if it doesn't work out.
    http://www.clowcreative.com
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  8. #8
    Community Advisor ULTiMATE's Avatar
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    Perhaps it's just because I'm a moody *******, but I think the best thing to do is to be completely blunt with them. Tell them that the early 90's called and that they want their designs back. Tell them that using that design could harm their business, and so on.

    Of course, don't be really mean about it; not everyone is a design guru, but don't tip-toe around the subject! If a design is as awful as I am picturing it show them some examples of good websites and examples of people laughing at similarly bad designs. Most people may be offended that you've mocked their website, but there will be one client that'll really admire the fact that you were so honest with them and that'll become your strongest client.

  9. #9
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    I would still be very careful how you go about correcting them. What might be a greater challenge is to incorporate their branding, and make a design that looks cool.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I've had similar situations. Some guy from sitepoint PM me to do some "simple" job. I asked him, what's your Web architecture? he said "we did it in JSP". I asked again, "what's your web architecture?", he responded "JSP". So, after reviewing and told him that he hired the worst programmers in the world and he kept saying "Our product is the greatest thing in the world and we don't need you". 3-6 months past by, he repost on site point criticizing his programmers .. lol~ Anyways, my advice is to keep it quite if you want to keep the job.

  11. #11
    Foozle Reducer ServerStorm's Avatar
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    Hi,

    Dear Client,

    I have been working on your project & came across the logo that you wanted implemented into the GUI. After analyzing & comparing it to your direct competitors markets I found that it was a little behind in times. Looking at this from a business standpoint in a dog eat dog world were it comes down to adapting, improvising, & overcoming ones competition whenever possible, without trying to sound too harsh, I might suggest considering a logo redesign for a more competitive branding campaign.

    Here are a few competitors I was researching:

    a competitor website
    a competitor website
    a competitor website
    Our company has used scorpionagency's aforementioned approach on a number of occasions. The outlined approach is very tactful, helps your client understand that your are not just being critical but also looking out for the value of their business. Also it is clear that you are willing to go with what they have done.

    Remember some companies have very little experience with modern web designs (in their day to day business usage). Some companies also do not or have not worked with creative very often, so (although they shouldn't) they may just believe that their designer/agency knows what's best for them - after all they paid them to come up with a relevant design.

    You are right to pin-point this, because whether or not you remove this from your portfolio, the word-of-mouth can be damaging if their product is perceived badly and it is attributed to the design/marketing so you are best to address this in a tactful and yet informative and consequence attributive manner that will be best for them and you.

    At the end of the day, if they don't take your advice, you can always point them back to the documented - as per scorpionagency's - recommendations an they will be far more likely to understand that your tried to warn them; therefore you won't have the burden of responsibility.

    Regards,
    ServerStorm
    ictus==""

  12. #12
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Agreed. Especially the part about presenting alternatives if it can be done without eating up a lot of time. Graphic design doesn't come cheaply.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Zealot ShytKicka's Avatar
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    Well if Google was a start up, and they'd send me their current logo and tell them they need a design to go with it, I'd laugh as well.

    Maybe it's not as bad as you think it is?

  14. #14
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Why do you feel the need to tell this client that their design sucks? Are you consulting to them? Is the client paying you for your feedback on their graphic design?

    what is your role?

  15. #15
    SitePoint Zealot bboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShytKicka View Post
    Well if Google was a start up, and they'd send me their current logo and tell them they need a design to go with it, I'd laugh as well.

    Maybe it's not as bad as you think it is?
    Very good point ShytKicka. You may want to sit back and ponder it a little more and see how you might accommodate it with your design plans for the site. If not, simply use common sense when letting them know that you feel the logo is somewhat dated.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Enthusiast devAngel's Avatar
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    We have a few encounters of that kind of situation. What we did was we tried to suggest them several designs that would make their brand more appealing...it was a polite approach so they agreed (and admitted) that they have the worst design lol
    sig space open...

  17. #17
    SitePoint Zealot Rexibit's Avatar
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    I agree with the others in that you should tactfully encourage them to use a branding that is clean and with the times. Most people in business today that "have the money" are the ones which grew up in the business world with different standards. In fact, there are a number of clients I deal with now that have no idea what I even do - they just know that they need it.

    People do become attached and familiar with their branding, and in most cases a good branding can still stay - just the application and presentation needs to change.

    Make a few mock-ups of branding that is similar to theirs, but with a current flavor and show them how it is similar and their customers will relate.
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Zealot trichnosis's Avatar
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    i think doing that with a kind or polite way will be better

  19. #19
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    Try some constructive criticism. Explain to them that in your professional experience the logo could be stronger and more memorable if they make a few additional modifications to it. It always helps if you can explain the issue using tangible terms. For example, you could say that the font is over-used and the public will have a difficult time differentiating them from other companies. Or explain that the walking ball is distracting from the iphone app.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Zealot Ken Sharpe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing View Post
    Why do you feel the need to tell this client that their design sucks? Are you consulting to them? Is the client paying you for your feedback on their graphic design?

    what is your role?
    Yeah... looks like no one but sage here actually works in this industry.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Enthusiast scorpionagency's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Sharpe View Post
    Yeah... looks like no one but sage here actually works in this industry.
    How did you come to that conclusion? Did you miss the concept of a repeat / referral client based on a designer that not only stays up to date with current design trends, but also understands what Branding is all about, thus reflecting higher conversion rates based on a targeted design?

    Following orders is for drones / employees / & robots. It takes a true Trend setter & successful businessmen take the bull by the horns & lead them in the right direction. A professional understands their field & provides clients with not only the design, but consultancy from experience gathered over the years.

    I can see a designer with no real experience just following orders & not suggesting corrections when they see something wrong or out of date on a project. Even if the client refuses to listen, you at least made an attempt tactfully to provide a professional service with a solid background of hands on experience. That alone makes a designer stand out from the rest. Clients find a knowledgeable designer to be more of an asset & are prone to repeat business with them, as well as refer others.

    Heck I'm just a newbie with only 3 years under my belt & know this stuff. I don't know about others, but for me in the last 3 years I would have to say at least 75&#37; of my clients truly didn't really know what they wanted, they saw something neat & wanted it duplicated without any additional research into ROI (Return on investment).

    If a client fails, the designer always gets some of the blame. As they say in the corporate word "Sh!t rolls down hill". Because of this, no matter what you do, you get a piece of the blame, so you might as well try & help them actually succeed with additional research to back up your designing efforts.

    Heck, people might actually complement them on the design & ask where they got it done when its good (Hinse repeat / referral)

  22. #22
    SitePoint Enthusiast CheapSEO's Avatar
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    It Is Sure,The community(apple especially) is grally graphic oriantly ,It's worth tactfully suggesting that web standards have changed, and they're out of date,In most cases a good branding can still stay - just the application and presentation needs to change.Tell them that using that design could harm their business, and so on.
    What You are Doing For This.

  23. #23
    SitePoint Enthusiast lukemeister's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dvduval View Post
    I would still be very careful how you go about correcting them. What might be a greater challenge is to incorporate their branding, and make a design that looks cool.
    I like this approach, I've always enjoyed try to take some weird looking design elements the the client requires and actually making it look good enough to appease both the client and the target market. A good challenge is always fun.

    It's easy to say this without actually seeing the font/graphics that were sent, but I would image a little creativity could make them less repulsive

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by scorpionagency View Post
    How did you come to that conclusion? Did you miss the concept of a repeat / referral client based on a designer that not only stays up to date with current design trends, but also understands what Branding is all about, thus reflecting higher conversion rates based on a targeted design?

    Following orders is for drones / employees / & robots. It takes a true Trend setter & successful businessmen take the bull by the horns & lead them in the right direction. A professional understands their field & provides clients with not only the design, but consultancy from experience gathered over the years.

    I can see a designer with no real experience just following orders & not suggesting corrections when they see something wrong or out of date on a project. Even if the client refuses to listen, you at least made an attempt tactfully to provide a professional service with a solid background of hands on experience. That alone makes a designer stand out from the rest. Clients find a knowledgeable designer to be more of an asset & are prone to repeat business with them, as well as refer others.

    Heck I'm just a newbie with only 3 years under my belt & know this stuff. I don't know about others, but for me in the last 3 years I would have to say at least 75&#37; of my clients truly didn't really know what they wanted, they saw something neat & wanted it duplicated without any additional research into ROI (Return on investment).

    If a client fails, the designer always gets some of the blame. As they say in the corporate word "Sh!t rolls down hill". Because of this, no matter what you do, you get a piece of the blame, so you might as well try & help them actually succeed with additional research to back up your designing efforts.

    Heck, people might actually complement them on the design & ask where they got it done when its good (Hinse repeat / referral)
    I think sage is actually asking...

    "Are you the designer? Or the developer?"

    And based on my experience, I have not met a single developer that should be talking about design. (no offense dev guys, but I have yet to see a great back-end developer that can hold his own and be a great designer as well".)

  25. #25
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    I would look at it as an opportunity! If you see something that you can improve in a business partner's site, then you have an opportunity to sell him consulting to help him make it better!


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