Ms. Penny-Pincher still nickel-and-diming? Mr. On the Fence still sitting? No matter who the clients are, Web builders can do plenty of things to protect themselves, their clients, and their precious sanity:
• Never work without a contract. Whether your client is a close friend, a relative, or someone completely unknown to you, a contract is your first opportunity to protect both parties in clearly defined terms.
• Provide clients with a what-to-expect information sheet. This simple courtesy might save hours of frustration and help provide your client with a sense of comfort.
• Delineate milestones and adhere to them as best as possible. Within your contract, specify dates defining the responsibilities of both parties. Include information about what happens if either of you fail to meet the milestones.
• Encourage positive communication. Agree with your client that you will be available for appropriate and positive discussion of how to ameliorate delays or concerns.
• Keep a referral list. Compile a list of developers. What may be a troublesome client to you might be the perfect fit for someone else.
• Don’t be afraid to turn a client down. Even if your rent is due and the car is about to be hacked by the repo man, don’t take on a problematic client. There is no dollar amount in the world that can make up for abuse and unhappiness.
• Develop a relationship with a qualified attorney. Spend a couple of hundred dollars now to consult with an attorney. Get a general contract written, discuss concerns, and keep the attorney’s number handy. Call only when you’ve exhausted your options.
Your ability to improve client-designer relationships lies in the ability to choose clients carefully, set clear goals for both client and designer, and operate as professionally as possible. You must also know when to walk away, say no, or recommend a colleague who might be a better fit. If all techniques fail, it may be time to turn to your legal advisor for direction.
No Web designer will be safe from run-ins with these and other clients. But being prepared is your best defense! Learn these characters, heed these tips, and set your boundaries.
Note: This article also came from Builder.com. It is no longer available in their archive. If you know the author, I would be happy to give credit where credit is due.