Telling a client his web design skills are terrible

I’ve just had an interesting experience of dealing with a client who thinks that he is a web designer and graphic artist as well as a music promoter and jetsetting entrepreneur.

Actually, I’ve come to the conclusion he is bonkers and if his entrepreneur skills are as bad as his web design skills then he’s clearly in trouble

For quite some time I was politely suggesting that the quality of his work (he kept presenting banners and templates he designed) wasn’t “the professional standard his company he should be reaching for” but now I’ve given up - he’s going to get exactly what he wants

Clearly, he has an attachment to his own work because he’s spent a great deal of time on it so criticising it has to be done very diplomatically… I wondered what others here would do in the same situation?

Let it be. If you already told him that his designs aren’t actually the best for his company then let it be.

I didn’t say that I’ll take on any clients, there are many ways for clients to be trouble, not just not listening to my advice. I wouldn’t take insults or abuse from a client, luckily it’s never happened yet.

I did do a quote recently for someone who I could just tell was going to be difficult so I quoted high and never followed it up, unsurprisingly I haven’t heard from him.

Actually, the root is proselytize ( and while it does have a religious context (be born again), other synonyms include: accept, adopt, advocate, alter conviction, approve, cause to adopt, change belief, convince, defend, embrace, get into, persuade, stand behind, sway, uphold.

I recently had an inquiry from someone I could have sent your way, but he was ornery to the point of insult and abuse so I let him stew in his own juice. Sorry! :wink:

unless you are JUST about money and nothing else, you need to use your discretion to decide which clients just aren’t for you

Even if it is just about the money, you need to weed out the bad clients because those clients will COST you money!

I recently had a client I lost money on, because he had OCD. I wanted to get rid of him early on but my colleague wanted to work things out and make the client happy. There was no making this client happy. Because of his OCD, nothing was ever “right” in his eyes, and things were done over and over and over (like on that show “Monk”). And the cost was rising and he threw a fit about that.

Many people with OCD don’t think there’s anything wrong with themselves, it’s always everyone else who does not have things “right”.

Ahh but there is so much hissy-fit sulking amongst designers! They are artists (well, many of them) and it can get emotional.

Actually the word is ‘Proselytising’ and it’s more commonly used in a religious context although I guess your defiintion could still be accurate.

I’ve had a number of clients over the years who’d been to someone else first and couldn’t get them to do what they wanted so they sacked them.

Sure but come on, this is design we’re talking about not art, seriously, who has such a high opinion of their own opinion that they’d sack clients for not listening to them? There’s no room in professional web/design for hissy fits and sulking. Give the client the benefit of your advice but ultimately give them what they want.

The client doesn’t want the advice.

That is an unknown. All we can know is that, particular, original try didn’t work.

We know the result. We don’t know the process which led up to it.

Words are just words.

I differ on this, no big surprise. And anyone who has done an A/B split run test on “just words” would beg to differ. Words can lead to inertia or action. Words can influence when and where within the budgeting process you’re brought in. Words determine your status as commodity or authority.

But alas, some words fall on deaf ears.

Give the client a year or so and let the results the client gets argue your point, and they may be more receptive. You’d be surprised what you can teach a starving pig.

Fred Thompson recently put out a book called “Teaching the Pig to Dance” Guess he must have got the saying wrong! Anyway, singing or dancing, it’s the second half of the sentence that applies.

I agree with Sagewing and JJMcClure up to a point, that point being unless you work only for the money, choose your customers just as carefully as you wish customers chose their providers. You don’t have to – and can’t – work for everyone that rings the dinner bell.

If the bell rings the wrong music or the dinner smells burnt, just walk away. Life is too short to deal with constant discord.

Your post has many words but I’m not sure if I got the point. Design is important, sure. Connecting with the choir sounds great.

But, so what? The client doesn’t want the advice. Words are just words.

I also agree with shyflower - unless you are JUST about money and nothing else, you need to use your discretion to decide which clients just aren’t for you. If you don’t feel comfortable with what a client is doing and they won’t listen to your advice, you either need to drop them or get over it - your choice!

It is not your job to forcefully teach, inform, educate, or otherwise alter your clients opinions unless the client is open to that.

“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.”

Great post, that’s what I was trying to say but you did a much better job.

It is not your job to forcefully teach, inform, educate, or otherwise alter your clients opinions unless the client is open to that. If he wants whatever he wants and isn’t interested in changing, that is the clients choice and you should honor it.

You have a responsibility to make sure that they have good advice available to them, and that your professional experience can be used to help guide/direct them when needed. And, you have a responsibility to try and prevent them from doing something absolutely dangerous, irresponsible, etc. But all you can do is gently inform them of the risks/mistakes, and then let them do what they want to do.

I find it a bit annoying hearing designers gripe about not enjoying the prospect of a design. Unless you’re gifted with a steady stream of clients that have no preconceived ideas of what they want, the designs you work on will be catering to other people’s likes and dislikes - not your own.

This is just another skill in design, satifying the client. Sometimes this is done with a design you like personally, most often it’s not. The challenge is to walk away with another happy client.

I find jobs where the client gets too enthousiastic about their own design ideas glugy on the palette, but a challenge none the less. In one case, similar to your own situation, I said the client was a true ‘talent’ and offered to put his design up as the ‘New website coming soon’ page that day. He was overjoyed. Whilst he was playing around and admiring his new design, I got busy on the real site. By the time the new designs were ready, the client was over the novelty of seeing his own work live and was 100% receptive to the way that the new design addressed the target market.

What can I say, I don’t work by such aesthetic considerations or principles, I work to earn money.

If I realise that a client is not going to take my advice no matter what I do then my job isn’t to set out to prove them wrong, it’s to give them what they want and if what they want is their crappy design turned into a website and I’ve carried out my professional responsibility and explained why that’s a bad idea and they still want to continue anyway, well, that’s what they’re paying me for. It’s only a website, no one’s going to die if it’s *****.

It is not your job to forcefully teach, inform, educate, or otherwise alter your clients opinions unless the client is open to that.

True, in a way. But that’s not education – it’s Prosthelytizing. Which is an act of conversion to a dogma, usually condescension from an imagined position of superiority.

In contrast, we have what 37signals does with their Getting Real philosophy. This is more like connecting with the choir.

“Don’t teach a pig to sing” is about not wasting your efforts in fruitless pursuits. You can’t know, however, unless you try to figure out who’s a pig.

What 37signals does is use their philosophy, things like Just say no to Lorem Ipsum.

Sorry, but that’s not merely education, in advertising terms that is prequalifying prospects. And, consequently, that’s solving a problem a lot of designers come to this section griping about: Dragging content out of the client.

We all know designers who can start, code, and finish a site without knowing thing one of who the user is, or what the site was supposed to accomplish. When you’re not communicating content is relevant, you’re communicating content can be delayed, ignored, or greeked.

Design speaks. And design attracts and filters the clients you get.

My problem is, too many think a turned-on, tuned-in client drops from the heavens, and the site design has no part to play in the process.

Maybe you should start a new thread with his work for us to review, then lead him here to read all the comments left for him.

You need to at first educate the client on design—

If only some dirt cheap communications medium could do the lion’s share of the education process, like the designer’s web site.

Huh. If the site isn’t doing that eduction job. I wonder what it is educating clients to do? Maybe the design of the designer’s site is causing just these problems.

How would you suggest setting up A/B split testing in this case DCrux?

How would you suggest setting up A/B split testing

I have no context for answering this. I know zero about how you do things. And zero about the client site structure. Try starting with Google Website Optimizer

Some people roll their own scripts. Others have preferences, as there are “schools of thought.” (Straight split, multivariate, Taguchi) As there are roughly a quarter zillion hits should one search, I’m confident a conscientious twenty minutes will yield something.

As it would be a content management basic staple, any CMS would have this built in …if the CMS existed. Unfortunately you will have to wait for the CMS developers to realize those letters actually stand for something. (Don’t hold your breath).

In any event, designers should be able to put up something which competes favorably with any client whim.

What you’re trying to do is called establishing a control – step one. Once you get that first step out of the way, you can then gain the reputation for “beating controls.” That’s what you want to be doing.

Imagine getting paid for a new site from the same customer every year.

The point is, no designer should have to tell their client this. They should have video showing users struggling. They should have analytics backing them up. Because artists are creatives, basing their judgment on a whim. Designers test. (…with users, in case that wasn’t clear).