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The Different Types of WordPress Web Design Clients And How To Manage Them

Posted on July 20 by in Editorial | 55 comments

The Different Types of WordPress Web Design Clients And How To Manage Them

If there is one thing I’ve learned as a freelancer working with WordPress web designs and development, it’s that there are many types of personalities out there. The relationships I’ve built with clients have been dynamic. And it’s hard to tell up front what a relationship will turn into.

After dealing with many kinds of people, I’ve learned the most important thing in managing web design clients (other than having a solid contract):

It’s backbone.

I don’t mean being anal-retentive. So don’t do that.

What I mean is, knowing what you want out of client relationships, and sticking to it. This means knowing how much you want to earn, knowing what you want your portfolio to look like, and knowing how far you’ll go to please a client before drawing the line.

It’s hard to do this when starting out. People will give you all kinds of advice about choosing clients. I believe it takes time and experience to get it right.

So I won’t give you that kind of advice. I will just describe what types of web design clients are out there in the WordPress and web design world. I’ll also give my two cents on how to manage each kind. Feel free to give your own in the comments below!

Here comes honesty.

The “In a rush” client

You can relax; this person is not really in a rush.

What they want is for you to be available at a moment’s notice when they finally get their act together and are able to give you what you need to do your job (whether that be payment, content, files, a go-ahead, or anything else).

Usually when people say they are in a rush, they are anxious and don’t really know what they are asking you to do. They want gold spun from straw. They want the best possible website in the world, but want it done yesterday.

They also have no idea how much homework it is on their part to complete a website. They don’t want to tell you what their goals are, what they want their website to say, who their competitors are, or anything of the sort. They want you to read their minds and get it done….just as soon as they are ready.

My advice is to never give timeline guarantees to this type of client. You can say you will try your best to speed things up for them, but insist on your timeline (which I recommend documenting in writing).

Then give them their homework for the project. When they see you cannot move ahead until they do their part, that should help reality kick in.

Trust me, usually they will take their time.

When they finally send you what you need to complete your tasks, they will try to rush you. Don’t be anxious. Make your deadlines clear and focus on doing a good job.

You can also let them know that if they want to rush you, they will get a rushed product. No one wants that. If they want quality, they can wait. And ‘waiting’ is not going to kill them – making websites takes time. Not an eternity, just time.

And always remember, it’s not your fault that they delayed their project till the last minute. Just focus on doing a good job (but stay on time), because, remember: the thing that will get you more work later is doing good work now.

If your timeline doesn’t work for them, let them walk.

The “I will make you rich” client

Sometimes you come across people who believe they have it all. And by “all” I mean an idea in their head.

They think they are a hot shot that is going to get 10 million visits to their site the month that it launches, just because.

Really, there are people out there who think like this.

And they say things like, “if you give me a discount, later you’ll be rich because your link will be in the footer of my site.”

Stop right there.

First of all, a link to my website goes in the footer of every site I make, and trust me, it hasn’t made me smoking rich like you’re gonna be.

Second of all, why do you deserve a discount?

Personally, I would only consider discounts for non-profits with altruistic motives that don’t ask for it.

So when you put it in that perspective, why does a full able-bodied person with a self-serving, profit-motivated business deserve a discount?

Because of the crystal ball they have that says you’ll get rich if you discount yourself now? I don’t think so.

They won’t make you rich. They won’t appreciate your work at all, because they won’t see the value in paying for it. If they’re going to be rich, they would know what it takes to do that in the online and offline worlds, and would not be giving you ‘big talk’ about it.

Are there ‘rags to riches’ exceptions? Sure. But you don’t need to take on their risk, since you have your own business to build.

There are variations to this type of client. Some will frame it this way:

“I have no problem spending on your services if you think it will make me more money later.”

It is not your job to tell someone whether or not they have a viable business. A website is not a business.

Another variation is:

“I’ll send you lots of referrals if this works out between us, I know a lot of people.”

The people that will send you referrals later are the people that pay you and have real businesses, because they know other people who have real businesses.

The way you handle this type of client is by insisting on your prices, sticking to only talking about the current business transaction (because they may go off topic about their dreams), and showing no interest in their plan to make you rich as a byproduct of their getting rich. Don’t cave. Don’t try to be compassionate. Don’t be rude either. Just stay professional.

The “Can we have this and that” client

This client has no idea how much work and money it takes to add bells and whistles to a website. They also often say, “what I want is really simple.” When you hear someone say that, “simple” is probably far from what they want.

They ask questions like: “Can you get users to automatically tie into my custom built database, and then get orders from WooCommerce purchases sent to my in-store POS system, and my fulfillment center, and my accounting system? And on top of that I need to ‘engage’ with visitors, so I need a forum and quizzes just like on BuzzFeed. It’s really simple.”

That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but if any part of it makes no sense, that’s because it usually doesn’t when the client presents it to you.

So how do you manage this type of client? Here is what I usually say:

“It’s almost always possible, it’s just a matter of cost.”

And then proceed to give them ballpark figures of how many dollars they need to get it done. Don’t spend lots of time gathering detailed quotes. First give a ballpark, find out they don’t want to pay for it, then move on with the project.

The other thing to say, which is actually sensible for both of you, is that when the project scope gets too big, it becomes overwhelming for everyone and slows down. On the contrary, when you keep things bite-sized, they go faster, and seem easier.

With WordPress, it’s usually always going to be possible to add extras on later. Yes, it’s good to plan ahead for the future, but things like forums and WooCommerce extensions don’t need to hold things up right now, if you can live without them.

Some clients will be at a stage where they need to get all those bells and whistles done. You’ll know it when they don’t whimper at the prices. They’ve been around the block with web developers and know what it takes to get what they want.

If you think you can handle a project that big, go for it. But if you haven’t done something that large before, just know what you’re getting yourself into. Hint: think of how much support you’ll need to provide after the project is complete. Not so simple now, is it?

The “It’s totally cool, whatever” client

Other than the most organized people on the planet, these are the best clients to have. They end up with the best websites too, because they don’t interfere too much, letting experts do what experts do best.

While these clients are da bomb, they can also be too easygoing at times. Just remember that sometimes, you need direction, so you can do the best job possible. If everything is ‘A-OK,’ that puts pressure on you to make business-altering decisions on your client’s behalf. For example, if they like all colors, you won’t know which ones to pick for their branding.

Usually it’s not that extreme – most businesses will have a logo and color preferences, and can guide you in delivering what they want.

Really, this all comes down to communication. Hang on to these clients. They’re rare.

The “It’s not perfect” client

This client will ask you to fix something that is one pixel off…all the time.

There’s not much you can do with these clients, except try to notice their tendencies beforehand. At least you can be mentally prepared for what’s coming.

Perfection is wonderful in web design. Designers always love things pixel perfect. But website elements can’t always be that way, because they are not static.

Still, we have to try our best.

So here is how you handle this type of client: if imperfections are your fault, just fix them. But then stop at a certain point.

How? Make sure you have an ‘official’ review process. That is your client’s opportunity to submit any mistakes or missed items in one final, sealed-in-wax list.

After that, the project has to close. If it doesn’t, you’ll be fixing little things here and there for ages, until you’re basically taking the shirt off your back and selling it to please this client.

If the imperfection is something like a typo, which is often from text they submitted to you, let them know you can train them to use the site, so they can make these edits on their own. That’s why you’re building the site in WordPress anyway.

This type of client may also check their site on many different browsers and devices. They will try to view it in power save mode, with a dim screen, or with a lit up screen. And then they will complain about how it looks in any of those scenarios.

The only way to please these demands is to:

  1. Build responsive sites, and communicate beforehand that the site is supposed to adapt to different device widths.
  2. Have a clause in your contract that you can only make reasonable efforts to standardize the site, but there is no way you can account for every single past and future browser or device.

Alternatively, budget plenty of room in your initial estimate for cross browser and cross device testing.

The “Can we change this 100 times” client

This is the most common type of client. In fact, this client is often hidden in every other type of client.

This is similar to the client who wants everything juuuust perfect. Except, instead of asking for perfections, they will ask you to change a color, then change it back, and change the layout, then change it again – just so they can make a decision.

That eats up your time, which is your only currency as a freelancer.

Here are some important measures to take while managing this client:

  1. Don’t give many options. Go for just one design draft, not two or three. If you show more, they’ll want to see infinite combinations of the designs. Find out what their needs are specifically, document everything, and deliver one design that they can comment on.Good sales people know this trick too. If you give someone too many choices, they have a hard time making a decision, and can walk away confused. Be a good listener, and present one solution that fits the need.
  2. Regardless of how many revisions you offer, again, make sure you formalize them as milestones in your project management system. Don’t be casual about change requests. Make sure the client understands this is their ONE chance to tell you what they like or don’t like on the design, and that after they hand that one list to you, extra change requests will be chargeable.

The client who never reads anything

They don’t read e-mails, don’t open attachments, don’t look at examples, and no matter how easy you try to make complicated matters seem for them, they just won’t have the patience to work with you on a solution to their problem.

This type of client may also answer “yes” or “no” to a question you gave them that had multiple options to it. They often don’t know what they want, or want ‘all of the above,’ so they find it hard to answer any question.

They get stressed when you give them too much to do or read at one time. So for starters, try to shorten your e-mails, and turn their tasks into bite-sized chunks.

But – and this is important – you need to get final, clear, go-aheads from them, in writing, before proceeding with a task.

Why? Well you can guess why. Later on they may claim they don’t like something, and may want to blame it on you. The truth of the matter is they were not paying attention, and didn’t want to give you a moment of their day so you could do a well-pleasing job for them.

Also very important: make sure they understand their employees, who they often will try to put in charge, have authority to make decision on their behalf. That means if an employee gives you directions, it’s binding. Later on, they can try to pull the whole, “well I never wanted that” spiel, and you’ll need good records to show you only followed instructions.

These clients aren’t always bad. In a sense, they can sometimes be easy to work with, because they also don’t interfere much. It’s mainly the documentation you need to be careful of, in case misunderstandings happen.

The “Missing in action” client

This client disappears on you. No one knows why. They seemed eager to get a website, and then probably decided they didn’t have time to work on it. So they abandoned ship.

They show up months later, maybe a year later, and ask you to pick up their project as per usual.

This is problematic for you as a web designer or developer because of two things, which are brought out in this article about web development contracts:

  1. Who is going to pay for the work you already did? Should you have to wait that long for payment?
  2. 6 to 12 months is a looong time in the web world – you’ll need to update a lot on that old project, which increases your work load.

The way to handle this situation is to cover it in your contract beforehand. It will be hard to make a case to defend yourself otherwise, especially if the client is hard to reach. State how long a project can remain dormant for, before you close up shop. Also consider payment terms that follow a timeline, not only milestones of project completion.

The “It’s broken” client

This client often believes their site is broken when it’s not. It’s just them making mistakes.

Or their users will make mistakes on the site (it’s surprising how many people can’t handle purchases on an e-commerce site). It will always come back to you that something “isn’t working,” but most of the time, when you get to the bottom of it, it’s a user error, not a website error.

Sometimes they’re right that something’s broken though, so don’t ignore it.

The way to handle this type of client is to set up a service agreement whereby all your time to troubleshoot “broken” things are chargeable. This might help minimize the number of support requests, but honestly, with some people, it won’t. Look at the bright side; at least your billables will go up!

Next, train your client to first attempt to replicate the error before contacting you. If it can’t be replicated, it’s most likely a waste of everyone’s time, and your client’s money, to troubleshoot it. Also teach them to document steps they took to make the error happen. Ask for screenshots or videos of what they are seeing, so you know it’s not all coo-coo.

After you hand a site to a client, anything can be done to it without you knowing. They could have clicked a button they weren’t supposed to, installed a plugin without telling you, server settings might change, or even third-party software that you set up may not work after updating. All of that’s not your fault, and should be made clear up front. Servicing a website after your client has it should be charged.

Of course, if it’s really your mistake, then fix it dude.

The “Can you do this for me?” client

This is similar to the “it’s broken” client, except things aren’t necessarily broken, they just want you to do all their content updates. Let’s face it, as easy as WordPress may be to many of us, some people will just not be able to get it. Even though you train and try to walk them through things, they just won’t remember how to put up blog posts, change links, or put up photos. So they ask you do to it for them.

Again, this should be an added, billable service.

Don’t take the excuse that they couldn’t figure it out. If they are constantly asking you how to do something you already trained them how to do, but don’t want you to do it for them, because they don’t want to pay for it, make sure you respond with something like this:

“I’d be happy to help you with this, but perhaps we should set up another training session to go over what we learned and you can try to take more notes this time? That way you can remember how to do it the future when this comes up, in case I’m not around. I will need to charge for the training consulting time though. Let me know a time that works for you.”

This will send the message that you don’t work for free. If you are constantly answering these inquiries, it will eat up a lot of time. Remember, time is your currency as a freelance web designer or developer – you have to learn to control it, and maximize time you actually get paid for.

The “I know more than you” client

This client is ‘interesting,’ let’s put it that way. They are always asserting how much they know about what you do. Usually it is because many years ago they worked in your industry, or did something similar to what you are doing now.

But they’re hiring you, for some reason.

Or, this type of client may admit to not knowing as much as you, but will constantly be researching articles to see if what you are saying is actually true.

Sometimes this client will insist on what they know (or wish to ignore) so much, that they start asking you to do things that are fundamentally wrong, and are going to make you look bad if anyone learns you were part of this project at all.

(Side note: If you want to laugh about this, read, How A Web Design Goes Straight to Hell.)

The way they will often vindicate themselves is by saying “I showed this to my staff/mother/pet and they like the really ugly design I made all by myself instead of your professional, modern, industry-standard-and-time-tested design.” (Ok, ok, they won’t think their design is ugly, I’m being sarcastic).

So two things to know about managing this type of client:

  1. Never speak in terms of what you ‘like’ versus what they ‘like.’ That’s subjective, and won’t get you anywhere. Always present facts. Speak in numbers, data, and research (which you find online). Show them, don’t tell them. Get case studies of conversions, if you have to, and articles written by experts. Assert how much you know about a topic, and why you feel something should be a certain way.
  2. When this happens, be prepared for it. This is going to make you feel devalued. You’re going to look at this site and think, “this is gross, I’m never putting this in my portfolio.”

Honestly, advice can’t be given here. Do you want to drop the project, or please the client, do what they say, collect the paycheck and move on? Both are valid reactions – it’s all about what works for you, and what you’re comfortable with.

Arguing with these clients is going to drain you. Don’t let that happen. There are plenty of clients you can work with on other projects.

Ether way, you need an outlet at this point. Friends in web design can tell you hilarious stories about this. Join a WordPress meetup, or start one.

The “I don’t trust anything you do” client

This client doesn’t assert what they know, they just question everything you do.

Usually these clients have been burned in the past by someone else in the industry who wasted their money real bad. Now they’re taking it out on you.

They want you to do your job, but also won’t let you work on anything, because they don’t want to take your advice…even though they are asking for it. Similar to the client who knows everything, they may also do their own research, hire outside consultants to validate your work, and sometimes insist that things get done their way, even though they don’t know as much as you about the task at hand.

And as much as you may feel like you’re not making them happy, they won’t fire you. And you’ll wonder why.

These clients need a lot of emotional handholding. They take up a lot of time discussing their fears (usually about their finances, which they’ll try to blame on your services). They consistently ask for phone calls to go over your work, and these phone calls will not only eat up your day, but also your mental space. If they are weak, they’ll get their girlfriend or family member to come argue with you. Yeah.

My advice is to drop these clients. Don’t even try to manage them. You are not a counselor. Just tell them you can’t make them happy. Will they be mad? Of course! They’ll try to blame everything on you. But if you have been keeping good records of your work, you can show that you have provided everything they paid you for.

If you are in the middle of a project, you may have to forgo some payments, or feel to offer a refund (if it’s fair). But trust me, you’ve already worked more than the value of what they’ve paid you, and it will only continue that way. Move on.

What have we learned from all this?

Honestly, it comes down to this:

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

If your project management systems and contract are clear about what your clients can expect, you can avoid a lot of misunderstandings. Misunderstandings about expectations is really what creates unhappy clients. If you are fair to them by outlining the scope of a project beforehand, they will be fair to you by not asking you to go beyond that scope (I hope!).

You can even do what Chris Lema recommended recently, and offer to charge for an estimate, to get really clear up front. That way there are no surprises.

Article thumbnail image by venimo / Shutterstock.com

55 Comments

  1. Hi Joyce
    I recognise all those client types and more.

    I’ll add just one that I’ve come across a few times… the “My site’s been live for a week and I’m still not ranking #1 in Google” client.

    I’ve had a few of those recently!

    • We try to set expectations that we will build an seo friendly site, but never ever do we promise to get you on the first page of google.

      SEO and SEM can be hairy things some times….

    • Yes, I’ve seen that before, but that’s why I make it clear as much as I can that SEO is a separate service. So much of this comes down to good communication. I think many people just don’t know our industry well enough that they don’t know what’s reasonable to ask for or expect. So it’s our job to educate without overwhelming people.

      • That’s the clincher Joyce!

    • Yup, that’s them. I have more experience with these clients than I even want to think about. Agree 100% that the solution is “backbone” and “communication”. For the first 10 years or so, my clients caused me a lot of stress, but not anymore.

    • I had a variation on the type of client you describe which is: “And we never paid for SEO in the past – you should do it for free.” The way that I worked it out was to point them to SEO services and suggest selecting their “Free” option, should one exist.

  2. Sorry for second comment Joyce but I just spotted…

    “You can even do what Chris Lema recommended recently, and offer to charge for an estimate, to get really clear up front. That way there are no surprises.”

    What a fabulous idea.

    • His article on that is really good. He tells you what you can say to make that make sense to potential sales leads too. Do give it a read!

  3. Thanks. This helps me know what to do and not do when working with developers!

    It sounds pretty similar to all businesses – you hired the expert to do the job so let them do the job. They will come to you if they need help, have questions!

  4. Wait! Did I miss the client who is very cool, pays on time and in full. Questions little. And easily accepts your design. But, has absolutely no content. No pictures, images, mission statement, logo, about us, motto, maybe an email address from yahoo.

    I mean, it takes forever to learn about, say, the carpet cleaning business, but they just can’t document anything in writing. And, trust me, what little they offer in written docs are usually vastly improved by my 6th grade daughter as editor.

    This article is awesome! Informative and cathartic! Thanks!

    • Ha ha thanks Mike. Actually I was going to say that there can be overlap among these clients :) They don’t fall into strictly separate categories all the time, and these are only examples :) Feel free to share others :)

    • Also Mike, check out my article on ManageWP about how to get your clients to send you web content on time. It’s linked to in the article above :)

      • Great article on ManageWP about getting the client to fork over (or create) their content. I will put many of your suggestions to immediate use.

        Thanks for sharing!

  5. As we are new to this market, we haven’t run across all these personalities, but I can say a few I have seen.

    One thing to remember is to always be respectful. You can disagree with something and express your views without insulting anyone. In the end the clients are who pays your electric bill…

    We are about to get into a/b and split testing, as well as landing page design, and lead generating designs. I assume we will see more of those clients then haha!

    Great post. Was a really good read for Sunday couch time!

  6. I’ve had so many of these clients, too, especially the “Can you do this for me?” client. Have come to realize that when you do a web design for a person (the fun part!) you are often establishing a lifelong, handholding relationship with them (the not-so-fun part). I do charge for all that ongoing help but it sure isn’t my favorite thing to do (they simply aren’t interested in being trained).

    Loved all your commonsense advice for various situations, and especially appreciated being reminded to document EVERYTHING–going in, during, and even after. Too much can happen over the phone in the thick of things.

    Finally, every designer has no doubt discovered this hilarious website already, but I visit here often in a kind of “misery loves company” way: http://clientsfromhell.net/

    • Hi Laura! Yes! Do document everything. Usually even after I have a phone call with a client I will write an email to confirm everything that was discussed. It’s important.

  7. You nailed it, Joyce! I’ve had every one of these clients, too. You’re absolutely right, clear communication and setting proper expectations *up front* are key. And yes, “it’s totally cool, whatever” clients are the best. Great post!

  8. Very good article and true.

    I’m freelancer for 3 years now and I managed all those kind of clients, and I can confirm that a good communication is the key, the advance payment and the site sitting on your server test are part of the garanty on your side.

    In the past I made the mistake to not write in contract how many images to process and I ended up to 150 images for a small site :)

    But in general, if you make clear what you’ll do, the client will know what to expect.

    • LIke, you, I also learned most of this the hard way :) I once said “30 products” was ok on an e-commerce site but little did I know the client had several variations and skus on those 30 products, so it was not a simple set up at all! Now I am much more clear on how far I’ll go, and even say how many images I’ll upload in my contract.

  9. “The “Can we change this 100 times” client”
    This is why I will probably never design websites in the browser, as is becoming popular with the younger folks nowadays. Some may argue that it’s easier to change colors in the code than in Photoshop or whatever app you’re using. That is only true if the elements the client wants changed are areas of flat color. Photos and illustrations needs to changed in other apps, so it does not save time to design in the browser.

    • Yes, we still use Photoshop to mock things up for clients, but so far I haven’t fully adopted designing in the browser. It can change a lot. I think Photoshop can be used just for showing a client, but it’s not like we can actually use the Photoshop layers like before to build the site. That should be an important difference.

  10. Great article Joyce! :) It’s nice to know others deal with the same kinds of issues. I’ve been blessed to have truly wonderful clients for the most part, but everyone has their quirks. Realizing that we can’t control or change “them” but we CAN control our own responses and set up our own systems for success is so important – no matter what kind of business we are in. Thanks for brightening my day with your writing. :)

    • Thanks Nikki! Yes, stand your ground. You will make some people go away, and that’s ok. That’s good for you. Like Dr. Phil says, we teach others how to treat us :) lol

  11. Really like this post…
    Once I had a client who asked for a ecommerce almost targeting the entire globe (13th languages)…. I did try to make him understand it was a bit over the top for a small enterprise…. but it took me one month of discussion and I lost the client… after I come to know that he hired a designer, a developer a copywriter and an interpreter, he made them working for a month. The job was not even started when they all left him… by the way, no one got a coin… Fortunately it has been the worst I had and an isolated case

    • With those types of clients, give a high enough ball park figure up front before getting into long conversations to make sure they will be ok with the price before getting serious with them.

  12. At first my intention was to figure out how to use WordPress. When I did in a matter of one month of hard core reading and testing, I launched my company website.

    All of a sudden people I knew started to notice my site. That’s when the calls started, “How much would you charge me to build a business site for me”?
    Word of mouth spread, and now I manage 12 sites (including mine).

    All of the sites are WordPress & have Elegant Themes attached. I charged practically nothing in the design world & there are times I regret it. Although I do charge for yearly maintenance, the workload has increased since my landscape business has just exploded in the past 2 years.

    But in the short time I have built sites, I have had every single client you mention in your post.

  13. Great piece! I can definitely struggle with giving directions, it’s hard to make my thoughts come to words with design jobs (ironic because i’m a writer). Thankfully the experts have always come through with amazing work!

  14. Terrific article, thanks! I think I’ve met most of these clients although thankfully 90% of my clients are fantastic to work with and the others remind me that I’m alive! Education, communication, and me trusting my gut has a lot to do with how “good” my clients are!

    I can think of two others kinds of clients:

    (1) Those who who have a really really old website and they want me to just fix it so they rank #1 on Google for every single keyword but they don’t want the website changed even though it’s very dated, but more importantly doesn’t actually function properly any more.

    (2) The client who has a graphic designer provide me with the design which I have to turn into a website. No problem there – I like working with graphic designers. The challenge usually starts when several designs are provided and because I include two design revisions in my quotes, clients have thought this means three totally different designs/sites for them to choose from. I’ve learned that to specify exactly what this means!

    Thanks again!
    Ellen.

  15. What a pleasure to read.

    I recognised almost all clients amongst the crowd although I have to say if I smell a rat in the early days then I simply tell the client I’m not happy with the situation and recommend they go elsewhere, it saves a lot of heartache.

    Fortunately I quite often have clients waiting so I suppose I have the luxury to pick and choose. If work was a bit thin on the ground though I’d still adopt the same attitude, you will never please everyone so knowing where to draw the line is important.

    I’d like to add another client personality to the list; the 100% contented type that pay in advance and will praise and promote you to all of their clients. This client sounds too good to be true yet every few weeks they continue to send a steady stream of new business your way.

    In my experience if you’re lucky enough to come across this type of client make the effort to go the extra mile and occasionally offer them something new for free – don’t wait for them to ask, give them extra value to their site even if it’s a new graphic or a new style set of social media buttons. It WILL go a long way to maintain a successful client relationship.

    • Gary, I can see why you have ample work….excellent customer service is key! Congrats to you. I’m lucky to also have a group of such clients AND I’ve seen many of those listed as well. The longer we’re at this the more variety.

      Wonderful article.Thanks. I’m sharing it with my WP DevSigner group.

  16. Excellent article. Wish I could have read it 20 years ago. :-)

    I used to call “The ‘Can we change this 100 times’ client”

    “The Kitchen Sink Client” because they wanted everything EXCEPT the kitchen sink. And every once in awhile, you’d get one of those who wanted THAT too!

  17. Haha. Thanks Joyce. This brought a smile to my face. :-)

  18. Glad you all liked it and it made some of you laugh :)

  19. Great post, Joyce. Really resonates with me and the people I’ve worked with and have seen around, too! :)

  20. Joyce, this is really a Sunday punch! :) I’ve seen quite a number of these clients and some would really believe websites are like print designs. And now, you just gave me some cool tips how to handle these clients professionally and “how a website goes straight to hell” really cracked my ribs :D
    I love this post, Cheers!

  21. In the 17 years I’ve been a freelance designer I think I’ve dealt with all of these types of clients. One comment I have in response to the article is this: I try not to find things that annoy me about my clients. They pay my bills, and frankly, the more work they are to deal with, the more I get to bill them. So I absolutely love the nitpickers, and the dragger-outers, and the 100-times revisers, and the feet draggers, and the perfectionists – I think rather than many things to watch out for with clients, that they are all things to feel good about – because if they weren’t out there in the first place, I wouldn’t have this awesome job!

  22. Very Good article specially for me to how manage clients. Thanks for share

  23. Great article! I have met most of these client types. And have plenty of room for improvement with how I “handle” them :)

  24. Like everyone else here, i met all these clients, and worst, even as well during my “i do free website for my friends” lol :). i expect to have these issues with clients, not my close friends, but brrr, it happened with them too and i was doing all this for free !! :D.

    one funny anecdote with a client who was acting like in the http://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell

    after all the s**** the guy told me that after signing my contract (with everything writted in it, including as well the answer to his main complaint), the guy told me that only a PROFESSIONNAL photoshop user could make a website, and as i was not a professional photoshop designer, he destroyed the contract after one week of work and a crazy amount of emails !
    (contract that he signed).

    Unfortunatly at this date i was a very small freelancer who was mainly doing this as a part time job, i was not in a position for personnal reasons to hire a lawyer and make everything to legally being paid for all the hours and job i had already done as the “client” did the mistake to destroy the contract.

    for people who are beginning their bisness or are doing web design as a part time job, think about it as well. be sure by creating a contract, that if an issue happen of that kind, you’ll have the healt, the money the time and the possibility to go to the “lawyer” part of this situation to fix all this !

    sometimes, it’s so a mess (depending which kind of country you live or your personnaly life), that you’ll give up and will not go to the lawyer / justice part to claim your money and will loose everything (hair, time, money, healt :) ).

  25. Great article Joyce, I have come across all of these types of clients in my 13 years of designing websites, but I have to say that overall I am very happy with the type of customer I get and they seem happy with me. Just like you said, the key is good communication and it has to happen upfront. We have to take control from the very first time we talk to a new client.

    Why I prefer local customers: I love meeting with my potential customers in person. If they don’t have time for this, or don’t want to, I know enough already to let them go. But when I do meet with them, I get a really good feel about what type of client they are and what they want to accomplish with their website, which saves me time later on by not going in the wrong direction.

    After they have met with me, they usually feel very good about hiring me and they’ve put their trust in me.

    I also put it upfront that their are no guarantees of ranking #1, making tons of money off the website, or getting tons of visitors, but that I will do my best to help them make this happen. I also tell them they have to do their part to market their website and then I give them a bunch of good ideas on how. They love that and most of them actually do those ideas.

    They also love it that I truly care about them and their business. I won’t run their business for them of course, but I do come up with great ideas for them they hadn’t thought of. I love doing this and I love learning about all the different industries, even though it takes more time. But it’s paying off for me very well and I get tons of referrals because of going the extra mile.

  26. Can’t tell you how much I appreciate this post. Keen insight and great advice.

  27. Great post! Rings so true! Definitely one for the business development archives!

  28. Great article! I especially like the “Can you do this for me?” portion – very useful and excellent advice. Thank you!

  29. Great article, well written and very witty I must say. I am both client and sometimes a provider so I may write an article in response regarding designers and how clients sometimes feel about them!

    It’s funny though. I was lead to this post from a designers website who has gone on the missing list and won’t answer my emails or messages with a simple yes or no to the job after a week nearly! So it must be me being the client from hell.

    On to the more serious stuff though Joyce, you cannot be taking seriously if you don’t like cheesecake! ;-)

    • Ha ha Michael, let’s take the cheesecake comment as me being upfront right away. You can take it or leave it, or use it as a way to discredit me :) I try to deal with clients the same way.

      I think an article from the clients’ perspective would be valuable. There are a lot of hokey pokey people in this industry out there doing a bad job and charging for it (often more than what I charge myself, so it baffles me how people get sold on this junk).

      I think what’s hard about those people is that they put a bad name to the industry, so we get the “I don’t trust anything you do” clients, because they have been burned by someone irresponsible in the past.

      So yes, I agree, the client’s perspective is valuable.

      I do think though that our industry is really misunderstood and new to a lot of people. I wonder if mechanics or dentists get this type of opposition to their services, or have to deal with such weird requests and clients. How can a dentist, for example, ‘guarantee’ anything about your teeth? So why would we be able to guarantee anything about a website’s success (to give one example). There’s so much that goes into the dynamic.

      So that misunderstanding creates a lot of ‘heartache’ as one commenter put it.

      That’s why I try my best to communicate up front and make my contract clear.

      Let us know when you post the other article!

  30. Wonderful article Joyce!! Very thorough and true to life. Thanks for the insight! :)

  31. Great article Joyce!
    What you’ve described are not only website design clients, but graphic design clients in general. I know that because I’ve met all groups you listed, even though only a small part of my business deals with web design. I just wish I had read your advice on how to handle some of these situation earlier ;) … I’ll definitely bookmark this post for future reference!

  32. I love this article. I had my share of good and bad clients and I am a beginner when it comes to freelance webdesign. This article put a lot in perspective. Great article Joyce!

  33. Again, thank you to everyone who commented! I didn’t expect this article would get such a positive response :) I can’t reply to all of you, but I’ve read all your comments, and again, thank you! It helps to know we’re not alone :)

  34. Thanks so much for this piece, Am just a few months in business and honestly have met a number of clients who have traits that you have described..i guess now have found a way of dealing with them..-:)

  35. One of bests text of clients advices, really like hehe! I from Brazil and i saw a lot clients do that, even here! It´s universal haha!

  36. Great list and advice. I’d add to this list the “Change the DNA” client. It’s in the genus of the “Change 100 times” client. They receive mock ups from me, usually themes from Elegant Themes. They really like one and choose it. Then they change it so much that it looks like a cheap Geocities site from 1999. In the process they request the theme and plugins do what they were not engineered to do, essentially turning a Rolls Royce site into a Dodge Dart fused with an Edsel.

  37. Just love this article! I can relate to some of the clients mentioned here to the detail….hahaha

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