In this article I want to discuss web designer occupational hazards. This is prompted by the fact that I have just completed a difficult project that measurably increased my blood pressure by 30 points.
Right at the planning stage of the website we established the colour scheme that we proposed to use. Having completed the website, a flyer, a business card and various other marketing collateral, I was then informed by my customer that her mother had inadvertently changed the whole colour scheme by ordering the shop signage etc in a different colour of green!
I hate having to do the same job twice, particularly when the work involved is boring and a waste of my time! Hence, the rise in my blood pressure!
I regard myself as a digital artist and I took great care in selecting the colour scheme – to have it completely overturned directly impacts on the pride and care I take in my design work. I take satisfaction in the artistry of my work and I don’t do it just for money like an ordinary labourer. I do it because I want to create something of beauty.
Anyone can throw up a website but not everyone can create something that is aesthetically pleasing. This takes skill and hard work to achieve.
Truth to tell, I don’t create many website for other people and this is why. I want to retain full control over the artistic integrity of my work.
Also, having studied this stuff for literally years, I am the expert! I don’t mind constructive feedback but the final decision as to what, and what does not, work must remain with me. Otherwise, why employ me at all?
In fact, if my client imposes restrictions upon me and my creativity, I would prefer that they find another web designer because ultimately I am responsible for the end result.
This does not mean to say that I should not keep my client fully informed and involved in the process of building their website. On the contrary, communication and asking for feedback is critical. It would be disastrous to work in a bubble without communicating with the client, only to find that the final product is not fit for purpose!
One of the problems with web design is that everyone has an opinion and everyone thinks they have some level of expertise just because it is a visual medium. It is therefore very easy to keep finding things that you would like ‘to tweak’. I don’t mind tweaking if this is on the clients own time i.e. that they are paying me for the extra work. For this reason, it is important that there is provision for only limited revisions in the initial contract to build the website. After these revisions have expired, then the client needs to pay for any additional revisions.
With regards to completion deadlines, it is always better to under promise and over-deliver. Don’t accept work where the deadline is difficult to meet. One customer showed me a quote for a 5 page website from another web designer when negotiating the initial price for the web site, little realising that by having an ecommerce store they would need many more than 5 pages – it turned out to be 17 pages!
Failure to realise exactly what you are taking on can lead to the setting of unrealistic deadlines for completion. Better to walk away from the job than find yourself having to absorb a penalty for late completion of the site!
At the outset of accepting a commission to build a website, you really need to agree the following:
- a plan for the scope of the work. This includes, what the client has to do and by when as well as what you the web designer has to complete. The client to understand that failure by them to meet their deadlines may impact on the website completion date.
- Within the project plan, agree interim milestones.
- These milestones are ideal points for asking for and accepting feedback – agree how this feedback will be given – email phone and/or meeting.
- Advise the client of your working hours and when it is best to contact you. Design work is difficult – particularly if you get interruptions – for this reason, I like to block out my peak working hours so I can work uninterrupted and my client should respect this.
- Agree a budget for carrying out the work and the rules for making payment
- Understand the clients expectations and deadlines – manage these appropriately. If their expectations are unrealistic, explain why and explore these until a mutually acceptable compromise can be agreed. It is better to hammer this out at the start rather than half way through the project.
- Understand and agree, who owns what i.e. the license details and conditions.
- Agree the scope of website revisions and communicate when these revisions are being utilised so the client understands that they will face more cost if the persist in additional revisions outside the scope of the contract.
These conditions are there to protect both you and the client, so do not be shy about discussing them and the consequences that apply if they are not observed.
These are just a few of the web designer occupational hazards – oh and high blood pressure, of course!