Web Design – Dealing With Client Personalities

This is for all the hard working Web and Interactive designers and developers out there perfecting their craft. They face multiple projects, timelines, and personalities on a daily basis. I know it’s hard work, so this post is for you–hope it makes the road a little smoother.

Dealing With Mr. Micromanager
Prepare a document in advance that discusses what your production method is and include some information about Web advantages and limitations. This helps the client stay informed. If your attempts at education go ignored, gently but firmly explain the issues one additional time. Most importantly, give the client specific days and hours that are appropriate to contact you.
Also, it’s helpful to plan the design down to the last detail before starting your coding. Start with sketches and move on to mockups. Have the client sign off on each stage of planning. Then, when you’re building the site, there shouldn’t be any surprises.

Dealing With Ms. Penny-Pincher
Your best bet with her is to provide a detailed expense sheet and explain each item and have her sign the sheet after she clearly understands. Most importantly, tell her firmly that you are doing the best job for an agreed-upon price, and you’d like her to stop discussing monetary concerns.

Dealing With Mr. Content Interruptus
Explain the need for timely content up front, and set milestone responsibilities for both you and the client. Write those milestones into your contract, giving the client a legal responsibility to deliver content to you in order for a milestone to be met.

Dealing With Ms. No Pay
You can avoid problems with Ms. No Pay by ensuring that half of the project is paid for up front, with a contract clause explaining this fee is nonrefundable. You can then have the remainder of the money due upon the completion date. When you’re paid, the site goes up. And if a check bounces or is delayed, take the site down.

Dealing With Mr. On the Fence
If you are certain you are dealing with a personality type like this, don’t give this client decision-making power. Tell him, instead of asking him, what it is he needs and provide a site most appropriate to his needs. Rejoice if you find he is grateful you took control and delivered the goods without too much of his involvement.

Dealing With Ms. It’s Never Right
Ms. It’s Never Right is a rather intransigent problem. You can recommend that she seek out another designer, since she’s apparently not happy with you. Or you might suggest some book titles and developer Web sites for Ms. It’s Never Right so that she can design the site herself.

Dealing With Mr. Bad Vibe
Just say no. If you do get bad vibes from a client, simply don’t take on that client. If you’re in deep already, look for ways to pass the client onto another firm that has more buffers (such as client reps) to keep you safe.

Dealing With Ms. Cybernot
Clients don’t have to be ASP experts or HTML wizards: that’s why they hire you, right? But they should know some basic concepts about the Web. The best way to work efficiently with Ms. Cybernot is to explain the process from the beginning in very general terms. Try discussing what end result she wants and then determine what content or interaction you’ll need from her. Sometimes keeping the client in the loop about every little detail, from page load time to browser incompatibilities, isn’t such a good idea.

Note: I believe this first appeared sometime back on Builder.com and it is still appropriate for today. This article is no longer available in their archive, so if you know the author I would be happy to give credit.
Also, the genders used in this post are interchangeable, so don’t get insecure.


24 thoughts on “Web Design – Dealing With Client Personalities

  1. SP says:

    Ha! I love this post. We are brothers in arms indeed. I spend a lot of time thinking about clients. I wish they were all peaceful thoughts.

  2. Yes, almost makes you want to print out a one-sheet to give to all clients
    on the initial meeting and say, “these are the kinds of clients we do not
    deal with..”

    Unfortunately, they are most likely blind to the kind of client they truly
    are. :)

    Keep reading and tell your friends about WeirdGuy by emailing them the

  3. I’ve dealt with the offspring of Mr. Micromanager and Ms. No Pay…worst of both worlds. Seems we’re given different people and personalities to interact with in our lives, never knowing who we’ll grow from and who we’ll allow to make us bitter. It’s easy to get bitter…harder to learn…but I’d rather pass on God’s teachings than my bitterness.

  4. Ive been working on CSS based sites for sometime but still get the odd error in firefox ! wish they just played ball the same when designing, would make life a whole lot easier for everyone involved… but then that would be to simple and obvious…lol

  5. MzInfinity says:

    Thanks ebrown for the positive comment..but I am just so worn out explaining every little detail. It’s very very exhausting…

  6. angrydf says:

    How About
    Mr. Procrastination.

    I have a customer that signed a contract 9 months ago
    and I am still working on his web site.
    I show him a design and it takes 1 month to get back.
    I hate phoning a bugging people so maybe my fault.

    Just cant get the site done because he is tooo busy to even
    get me photos and text he wants for the site after 9 bloody months.

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