How do you handle clients who procrastinate when developing a website?

Hello peeps,

Something that has always plagued me and instead of guessing, im interested to know how others handle or avoid these situations.

Probably one of the biggest things i dont like about my job is trying to get the right information from the client to do my job. I have used different tactics and currently what i thought was good is not converting the way i thought it would. Currently i have a system in place where i require content upfront before i even start my job. This i know many do so im taking this approach to avoid problems later in the process. The problem is anything that requires some time from the client i am finding they procrastinate too long, could take weeks to get information from them that really if they cared enough and were helpful would take at most a few hours of their time.

So basically i have a bunch of projects that are at the stage of waiting for content but they are at a standstill. I have repeatedly emailed them and even offered assistance if there is any holdups but they are just not cooperative. I understand people are busy but it really is no excuse when what your doing is of benefit for their business.

I would like my workflow to flow better and i want to try and avoid/overcome this holdup.

How do my other fellow web designers handle these types of situations that im sure we have all had in the past ?

Thanks in advance for your time and your responses.

Yes, it’s a tricky one. One thing it’s worth doing is making this a part of the early conversations, making it clear to them that you know how tricky it can be to get the content together, and look at strategies for how this can be overcome, and help them make a plan for how the content will be supplied. Perhaps break it into simple tasks, which even might be divided up and shared among the staff.

But I wouldn’t even talk about design, time frames and site building until all the content is in place … because until you understand the content and can review it, study it and mess with it, I don’t think a good site can be built, as content should informs layout and site structure.

Clients don’t really understand that patience is the key for quality sites. They always want their work done quicker. If they could learn waiting, they would get the best site bug free site with best quality content.

That wasn’t really the issue here. We want them to stop waiting and get on with it! :wink:

If there are no specifics about the timeframe nailed down in the contract, I work on a “first come, first serve” basis. If the client takes ages to supply me what I need, he/she will have to wait until I finished doing what piled up in the mean time.
I don’t see what there is to get upset about here to be honest.

[font=verdana]One thing to do is to impress on them that you have time set aside for their project in the next couple of weeks, but after that you’ve got other jobs lined up, so if they delay in sending you the information you need, their project will go to the bottom of the pile once the time you’ve set aside has passed, and people who give you information on time will get theirs done ahead.

But no, there’s barely a day at work that goes past without me thinking “If you want your work done on time, you need to give me the information on time” :([/font]

Having them pay the first installment up front might help. In combination with you not starting work until you’ve got all the material/info, and the agreed on time schedule (and landing at the bottom of the pile if they don’t deliver in time), it should be enough to get them started. Unless they don’t care about the money spent…

All clearly stated in the signed contract of course.

This is a good way of finding the balance between hassling a client and managing expectations. You can be polite about the process but if it is clearly stated up front that you are providing a window to devote to their work, if they don’t step up it will result in delays that are of their own making. Again if it is clear, it isn’t unreasonable to point back to it and make it clear that any undue pressure and time sensitive work is at your discretion. You aren’t going to hold them to ransom and will complete it as possible, but you hold the same attitude with all your clients and someone else’s window is open right now.

For all the planning, warning and so on, in my experience it ALWAYS takes longer than expected to get everything you need out of a client. Make sure you have some longer term or small filler jobs to be able to pick up and put down easily.

I recently had to review my contract because I was facing a very finicky client and I wanted to make sure my time was well protected. This is what I took into consideration:

  1. Upfront payment was necessary and is non-refundable after 1 week - under any circumstance
  2. Define deliverables from the client and set a timeframe: The client had specific things to hand over within 6 weeks of the advance payment.
  3. Define deliverables from your end and set a time frame. Once the client hands over all things needed, you have 6 weeks to hand off the site which you can check off your list of deliverables. If all items are checked off, the site is done.

If the client does not come through on #2 - the contract is void and all work will stop. A new contract will be drawn out if the client wishes to continue the work.

I know this contract was written so that the client would say NO - which was okay with me because with this client, this tough contract was needed. Of course you have to word it better and maybe tone it down - but this was what I considered with the client. By the way they did not agree and I was relieved they did not sign.

I agree with con radical, upfront payments always help. Many companies work with upfront payments.

I thought everyone used upfront, not necessarily the whole amount but a decent sized deposit. I always try to impress on clients, who always ask “how long will it take”, that it will take as long as they do and that nearly everything I’ve worked on has run later than I expected because I have to wait on clients to send me something I need. At the company I’m working at now we expect a deposit but also push pretty hard to do a telephone interview as quickly as possible where we get as much info as possible out of them, at least enough to draft the basic website together, having something to show them can help eg; here’s how the website is looking, it just needs those photos you were sending over to be finished type approach.

Overall though, you just have to let people do their own thing, a lot of people delay sending stuff if they’re short for money too, and you’re just wasting time going back to them constantly.