Web Clients: Are they always like this?

I’m not sure if this is just how it is or I’ve just run into some bad clients.

I seem to find that I have to really, really pester my clients to send me their content (it’s been a month for 1 client since I’ve asked) and then when I do get a response, it’s so general I have to ask for a follow up which takes forever. I can only ask so many times…

The other issue I seem to run in to is the lack of prompt payment. I usually have to wait 3-4 weeks to get a payment and these are small businesses or sole proprietors.

Since I don’t know anyone else in the web & graphic design business so I’m just wondering if that’s just how things are?

I couldn’t agree more. There are those of clients out there…some are rotten and some you will never have a problem with. That’s just the nature of the web design industry…you have to try and find the good apples. :slight_smile:

It isn’t always your fault. The truth is that most folks just don’t know what content should be on the site and what it takes to launch a site. They rely on us, as the experts they hire, to know.

How do you spell out times in your proposal?

Do you suggest that they look at some competitors’ sites to get an idea of what they need to compete?

That’s about as much as you can do

I do a “page break down” that gets into the specifics of the function of each page and what I need to write it. Even so, two questionnaires and a page break down later, I sometimes have a problem getting the content. When that happens, I just send them a note and tell them that although I’d like to devote the highest priority to their project, I’ll need to table it until I receive the information I need. If I don’t hear back, I simply move on to the next project.

it’s always my fault.

That is an unproductive assumption. It doesn’t have to be your fault to become your responsibility – if you want the situation to change.

Since people distance themselves from fault, it can set the stage for self-sabotage. If you’re getting the same undesirable result over-and-over, you try something different. Don’t squander an opportunity for change proving it wasn’t your fault.

There is also a difference between assigning blame and assigning responsibility too many fail to grasp.

jon, thanks for the encouragement…

As for quoting, I DO have times laid out in my proposal and contract. I know… I know… it’s always my fault.

Not enough words, too much substance

not much substance.

I didn’t come on this thread with nothing but commentary on your posts and nothing (zero) about to the topic at hand.

I did suggest 1. Another thread discussing the identical subject and a cause suggested by the OP himself. If that might be true in that case, would it not be true in others? That other thread’s OP solved his problem, got the client to submit content …when he corrected the communications problem on his end.

He could easily have dumped the client and moved on. Now them’s some simple easy to understand words. No money though – but why quibble over technicalities.

In that case, it qualifies as substance. Whether you read a single post of mine or not. You can get different ideas from the other people who posted, as several people did.

  1. I suggest two further things to try (which total three more than you posted here). One is an emphasis on content driven design, the other checking to make sure you have a “Client provides us content” step in explaining how they develop a site.

You can build a whole unique selling proposition around “content driven design.” I practically spell out the layout changes in a thread I LINK TO.

Different ideas are posted in the threads (multiple) I linked to to further explain what I mean in more depth, should you want to click through. In the first thread I provide a link where a number of others offer their own suggestions, and I point to even more examples of other things people can put to the test on their own site.

Any of this can be tested, thoroughly sabotaged, and brought back to throw in my face to point out how I’m wrong. And, of course, if you just wanted to solve the “other” problem that’s the topic of this thread – you could just go and do a straight up best effort test.

Again, if at first you don’t succeed, stop trying – continue having the problem – and satisfy yourself in the certain knowledge you proved me wrong.

What’s not to like about the substance of that?

Lot’s of words, not much substance.

The OP asked a basic question.

There’s a situation and result. One way to see it puts control outside, with “bad clients.” Another presents the position is you don’t exactly control, but influence outcomes.

One consistent response I find near unanimity about is “dump the client, move on.”

Rest assured, what you feel about my post is roughly the same as what I feel about those.

The theme is that you seem to have a crystal clear understanding of the business practices that ‘work’ for web professionals while most web professionals have no such clarity at all.

I think they are quite clear, certain, devout in their belief and with lots of evidence to back it up. Of that I have no (well, little) doubt. One person can say “this can happen.” Another can say “this can’t happen.” Or even “sometimes this, other times that.” And don’t you know they’ll all find a way to be right.

There is nothing I can suggest which a conscientious, dedicated objector can’t prove I’m wrong about. I have learned that the hard way. (Lot’s of funny stories there.)

Dcrux, I’ve noticed over a long period of time that your posts almost always have a consistent theme. The theme is that you seem to have a crystal clear understanding of the business practices that ‘work’ for web professionals while most web professionals have no such clarity at all.

In the actual business world, however, things rarely work that way. If you have such progressive and effective ways of handling client service, you could probably make millions as that would be an excellent product. I would write a book and start selling it immediately.

The OP asked a basic question. Some humility in your response might be nice. Truth be told, I usually find your answers to be rather wordy, and sometimes convoluted and hard to understand - although there are frequently some good points made.

I’m not sure you realize what performance standards are in a project agreement.

Performance standards define who’s responsible for what. It’s pretty simple to add the following (or a reasonable facsimile)to your proposal template:

[INDENT]1. You agree to provide me with everything that I need to complete the project in a timely manner. (Timely earlier defined as within three business days of a request.)

  1. I expect to meet all deadlines but I can’t be responsible for a missed deadline if you have been late in supplying materials or have not approved or signed off my work on time at any stage. You agree to review my work, provide feedback, and approval in a timely manner.

  2. Deadlines work two ways. You and I will both be bound by any dates and times that we set together.
    When you put this little bit into a proposal, the client knows what it expected of them.

I should add, because I am a writer, there is no need to tell the client that what “I need” is content information. They understand that from the general questionnaire they receive with my quote.

Maybe you work on a different plane than the rest of us? Instead of harping on what the rest of us do wrong, why don’t you share what works for you? That’s why people come here. To find out what works. Most of us already know what doesn’t.

Problems usually start because of poor quoting practices. If you define performance standards for both parties in your quote, a lot of the problems become minimal and some of them just never surface at all.

Meaning the quote process is sending the message content isn’t a client performance standard. Which can very easily be interpreted by clients to mean you’ll greek the content. Which gives clients every reason to delay thinking about, or forget about content entirely – at least until the site it finished.

Meanwhile you’re waiting for content the client has no expectation of providing.

A simple term would be “content driven design.” I wonder how many developers have a “Client provides us content” step in explaining how they develop a site.

When you’ve never worked with a writer in the whole of the time you’ve been developing sites. When you consider web development to have nothing whatsoever to do with written content. Yeah, nobody’s sending a clear message, there.


Supporting Wrting With Layout (few websites do)

The very first suggestion I would give is to keep an existing customer. It is always hard to find a better customer, and build a trust. It takes time.

So, one must try to keep the customer.

Everyone tries to save money. But customers are always in need of a better employees. But customers pay for your work - keep better relationships with them. A simple trouble would dissatisfy a customer.

When the customer does not give a real content while you are working, you should always try with a similar looking stories and photos, unless you took a content-writing job. Show the piece to the customer, and ask to give a real contents.

Sometimes, your suggestions can trigger the customer to think in better way, and your creativity helps the project grow in different way :wink:

But before working on a real project, know the milestones of your work, and payments. Discuss it openly to the customer before accepting the project. And, if the customer doubtful anywhere, do not give more options. For example, do not ask what kind of payment method your customer would use. Rather, boldly say, please pay using paypal.

The customer will then decide that he does not own paypal - and you can have a chance to ask, if bank transfer works. This helps to speed up the payment process.

Do not take it bad because your customer is responding slowly. He may be too busy with some other stuffs. It is bad only when he is searching the other guys instead of you :frowning:

That’s pretty harsh and not always true.

Some folks just have a hard time sending content no matter what you do. I use a general questionnaire at the beginning of every project to acquaint me with the business and usually follow it with a specific questionnaire to get details on the content I am contracted to write.

Jonparadise has it right. Problems usually start because of poor quoting practices. If you define performance standards for both parties in your quote, a lot of the problems become minimal and some of them just never surface at all.

Turns out not even the clients are like that. Check out this rather lengthy discussion…

[B][COLOR=“Blue”]What to Do if the Client Won’t Give Content[/COLOR][/B]

Surprise Ending: Developer revealed it was his communication with the client at fault.

Web sites are all about communication. Are you signaling content is optional to your development process with lorem ipsum? There are a dozen ways to communicate content really isn’t relevant to the site development before you even meet the client.

Too often the client outcome is directly attributable to what’s on the developer’s site. And it starts with an insistence on having nothing to do with content.

Some Good News: Design actually counts for something after all. Design determines how clients interact with you, whether you want it to or not. And Surprise: The sites you design for clients determine how their customers interact with them.

Whether you want to take responsibility for it or not. Many site designs fairly scream “content irrelevant design.”

I seem to find that I have to really, really pester my clients to send me their content

Rest assured, if it’s a regular occurrence, it’s you – not them. You’ve signaled them in some way content doesn’t factor into the development of a site.

Good news, they’re not all like that.

There will always be some tricky devils who are slow on providing content or sending payment. Over time you should find it much easier to spot the ones who could cause you trouble at the very start of the project and make a decision on whether you should/could work with them accordingly.

Just make sure you have a contract that stipulates your late payment terms and time constraints for supplying the content.

On the flip side there are some great clients out there, true gems who provide everything you need on time and pay without delay.

Actually I’ve often found the perfect projects are generally when the client themselves are on a deadline.