The 10 People in Almost Every WordPress Professional’s Life (And How to Deal With Them)

Posted on August 26, 2015 by in Tips & Tricks 32 Comments

The 10 People in Almost Every WordPress Professional’s Life (And How to Deal With Them)
Blog / Tips & Tricks / The 10 People in Almost Every WordPress Professional’s Life (And How to Deal With Them)

As WordPress professionals, we deal with certain constants: The havoc a missing semicolon causes, the panic of hardware malfunction, the seemingly never-ending parade of updates.

However, some commonalities take the form of humans – both clients and acquaintances. For the most part, our jobs wouldn’t exist without them, and they keep our time behind our keyboards interesting. The trick is dealing with them while remaining professional, polite and productive.

Here are ten people that every WordPress professional will encounter at some point in their life, and the best way to deal with them without losing them as a client.

1. The DIYer

This client wants full admin privileges so he can tinker under the hood a bit. However, when he inevitably messes everything up, he won’t pay for fixes. You wind up with a disgruntled client, lots of unbillable hours and a site you have to scrub from your portfolio.

How to deal: Head this situation off at the outset. Include a clause in your contract specifying that you will charge an hourly amount to repair mistakes that you have not made. This way, when your client unintentionally breaks something when tinkering, you can reference the clause and not be out of pocket.

2. The Minimizer

This prospect thinks that moving his WordPress site to a different host is simply a quick FTP job – just a matter of downloading all the files, then uploading them on the new server. He has no idea about database serialization, though, so you have to forgive him for this common misconception.

How to deal: Explain that WordPress is database-driven, with intricate relationships that will break if files are simply moved. It’s a good idea to have an arsenal of resources that you can give to the client to support what you’re saying. Offer site relocation as a separate service.

3. The Uninformed Business Owner

He can’t understand why anyone pays for hosting when, Weebly and Wix are perfectly good alternatives.

How to deal: As with most problems, your best tool to tackle this is information. Tell him about the advertising and credits that free hosting mandates, along with limitations in function – including the funky URL his site will likely have, and how it could impact his business. Explain that, for these reasons, and other free hosts may indeed be fine for just a personal blog. However, for a business site for which credibility, flexibility and scalability are important, he’ll have to fork over the big bucks for hosting. And by “big bucks,” we mean as little as $10 or so for the garden-variety small business site.

4. The Big Picture Fan

The images this client sends are in high resolution, and he insists they stay that way on his site – after all, visitors to his site want the highest quality possible. A week later, he calls to ask why his site is loading so slowly.

How to deal: Explain that resolution past a certain limit is a hindrance, not an enhancement. High-res images load far more slowly than typical images – and that will cost him site visitors. Reassure him that resolution is relevant only in print, and you can provide images with high enough resolution as to not impact his visitors.

Show him previous examples of optimized images that you’ve provided for previous sites – you could even show him the methods by which you optimize images.

5. The “Budget? What Budget?” Guy

This prospect reacts negatively when asked what his budget is – or worse, has no idea – and believes that all WordPress sites require the same amount of work, aside from content.

How to deal: Explain that you need at least a rough number so you can tell him what that amount will buy. Doing it the other way around – developing a proposal without a target number – wastes everyone’s time.

In your first exchanges with clients, ask about budget this way: “Please tell me the purpose of your website, what you want visitors to do, and what your budget is so I can then tell you what services I can provide for that amount”. Reassure him that this approach ensures he gets the most value for his money. The mentality should be: “I have $5,000 to spend. How much of what I want will that buy?”

Bonus: This also helps weed out clients who aren’t clear on what they want their sites to accomplish.

6. The Project Manager Who Thinks WordPress Is a Word-Processing Program

This person thinks WordPress is just for blogging on, or worse yet, confuses it with Microsoft Word. (Yes, this really happens). Worse yet, he doesn’t think WordPress developers are “real” developers at all.

How to deal: Educate him. Explain that WordPress powers some big-name sites, from BBC to The Harvard Gazette. Send him to the WordPress Showcase. Automattic does a fine job of explaining WordPress, too. Showing him your portfolio is also a great way to emphasize your skills and what you as a developer can achieve.

Because he may be thinking that “free” means substandard, enlighten him on the term “open source” and what that means for WordPress users – constant development, security updates and an enormous support community. Using WordPress means that he’s essentially leveraging not just your talents, but also those of hundreds of brilliant coders.

7. The Cheapskate

This client is hellbent on using a poorly coded free theme that’s full of malware (such as Base 64 injections), sneaky credits in the footers, and customizations coded right into the functions file rather than as plugins. Unfortunately, he just doesn’t understand the problems this causes, all he sees is the price tag.

How to deal: Explain how these issues can affect site performance and produce embarrassing gaffes that erode credibility. If he insists on picking his own theme, direct him to some reputable premium theme providers (like Elegant Themes of course ;-)).

8. The Wannabe

A little client education is part of what we do. After all, WordPress is popular for its usability, among other things. It’s no bad thing when a client can add posts and make minor changes on their own. However, this particular client asks questions – a lot of questions – in a barely disguised (and misguided) attempt to learn the skills that have taken you years to hone. His ultimate goal is to go the DIY route because, hey, it’s “just” WordPress.

How to deal: Answer minor questions and concerns, of course. However, for more complicated issues, for instance, “What’s the difference between a hook, a filter and an action?”, it would not be rude to politely send him to the WordPress Codex. If he’s going to jump in himself, he’s going to have to do it without a free life ring. However, remember the DIYer and ensure you have a clause in your contract for if your client jumps in and breaks any code.

Great big caveat: This does not apply to your fellow WordPress professionals. Part of what makes WordPress so great is the community that surrounds it. If you can help out, you should.

9. The Elitist

You’ll find this guy lurking in forums, writing in blogs, attending networking events. He is a Web Programmer, aka Internet Engineer, Website Architect, or any number of other lofty titles. No jQuery for him: He codes only in pure JavaScript. He never cuts and pastes that line of code at the top of any HTML document. In fact, he cuts and pastes nothing; it’s all there in his magnificent mind. And he looks down on you because you “rely” on WordPress.

How to deal: If drawn into a conversation with him, explain that you are an efficiency expert who prefers not to write the same code over and over again. Why reinvent the wheel when a secure, SEO-friendly, extendible platform like WordPress already exists? Using WordPress is not cheating; it’s bending proven code to do your creative bidding – and that’s just smart.

With clients such as this, it’s best not to get drawn into any conversations of this ilk, or you run the risk of upsetting and potentially losing the client. If you can avoid these specific topics, do so.

10. The Generalist

This character isn’t unique to the WordPress world but is so ubiquitous that he deserves a mention. He thinks that, since you “work in computers” you can fix his, from a simple browser issue all the way to hard drive issues.

How to deal: Just say “no”, but keep it nice. Humbly explain that you’re “just” a designer/developer, hardware just isn’t your thing, and you’d hate to give him bad advice. Point him to (a) Google, or (b) the Yellow Pages, and get back to work. Bear in mind that if you accidentally break his machine (or if your client thinks you have) you could be in for a lot more repair work.

Summing Up

Dealing with people is simply a part of your job as a WordPress professional, and doing so in a way that doesn’t alienate clients and prospects is vital to any WordPress business. Your best bet is always to try and educate your client, with in-depth resources.

Have you encountered a particularly difficult people problem? How did you deal with it? let us know in the comments!

Image Credit: Dooder /


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  1. The first type is the worst (at least I think). I’ve faced a total disaster once, not only the client destroyed everything, he also erased the backup files trying to restore them… From that point and on I am charging for repairing the mess!

  2. Hi guys. Interesting and helpful, thank you. Just a minor (or not so minor) point re: the BBC … here in the UK the does not use Wordpess. It’s that uses WordPress.

  3. Interesting. I’ve found that often the DIYer would like to add significant features to his/her site (like a shop or membership site function) and expects it to be simple for them to create, because after all, you recommended wordpress because it’s user-friendly, right? That can be very frustrating for everyone. I’ve learned to manage expectations about what user-friendly actually means for a CMS.

    • Could agree with you more Meg !!

  4. Just dealt with a “minimizer” today, same exact story. Wants to move a site to a new host and doesn’t see why I should even charge for that. Crikey….

    Thank goodness most of my clients are totally awesome.

    • Forgive me if I don’t quite understand: why can’t you just zip the whole thing up and unpack it elsewhere? Whenever my company does a new installation, that’s what we do, and it works just fine (then we change the content)

      • I think this post explained it well. It’s a database driven application. The content is stored in the database and this database needs to be exported then imported (you can’t just move a file), of course mysql needs to be up and running on the new server/host with a database already for this to even happen.

        • While it’s true that it’s a database driven application, plugins such as Duplicator make downloading a zip archive of a WP site really easy, including the database.

          • Duplicator is awesome!…But it doesn’t always work. Some host setups have restrictions that break functions of the installer or the ability to package a site. The size of the site can also generate big issues and at times there can be malware present that can totally ruin your day. Be cautious about proceeding with this type of job and definitely charge for this.

  5. Very good article. I have definitely met a lot of these types of users. 90% of client problems come from not doing enough clarification up front.

  6. I think everyone minimizes the work that Web Developers do – on a whole – until they attempt to take a stab at the DIY approach.

  7. Thanks a million Tom, this resource meets my encounter as a WordPress power user. A lot programmers (the type B elitist) in my country looks down on WP and now they don’t know how to port in seeing what WP can do or has done or is doing (may don’t wanna start learning the WP syntax). Also, I’ve met the generalist than others and they expect you to know everything about computers including fiddling with their mobile phones! This is really cool and the information will guide us to know how to engage professionally without losing the client.

    Cheers! 🙂

  8. What if you do know how to fix his browser etc.
    Should you offer to do that as a side thing or would it interfere with you development.
    I’m very new to web development but I’ve been IT for many years. I’ve recently learned HTML, CSS, PHP and really like working with wordPress. I’m working on my website but it’s not ready yet. It’s full of lorem ipsum and pix that I’m not sure going to stay there. Any input would be highly appreciated.

    • Wow! I think if you have the skills and the time, you most certainly offer them. The number one question our wordpress clients ask us is whether we can help with IT issues. We do “IT light” but we know our limitations and refer them to others when it looks like we will get in over our heads. We are actually considering teaming up with a small business IT expert. The work we do in that area, though limited is quite lucrative.
      Just my two cents…

      • Keno_el I think what you suggest is certainly going to be the most beneficial long-term, as by connecting the client to someone who can help the client and make a profit for the other business is a-win-win for everyone:
        The client will thank you for helping them solve their problem and the other business will thank you for the new client.
        In due course this behaviour will lead to more new clients for you.

  9. Great list! Thank you for it!
    Am I missing here the “Perfectionist/Detailist” that never ends its website because is always looking at the text and changing little bits, a comma here, an “a” instead of “the” here? I am dealing with one right now… and since a year ago!
    Ohh! And another one! Am I missing the “Telepathic” that expects you to build their website… without sending all the information or pics and asks you after a while “Why has it taken so long?”

      • Patty, Thank you for sharing “The REAL Process.” I’ve learned it’s better to laugh than curling up in a fetal position and crying over people’s ignorance.

        I will be reading that when I want to scream in frustration and pull my hair AND my client’s hair out!

  10. You forgot to mention the, “Do it all yourself guy” who refuses to give any input on what the company even is or does. They just expect you do do a forensic investigation of their firm and invent 100% of the content yourself. Then, they want to pick on every mis-statement you make because you don’t really understand their industry.

  11. Update: Edit my above post to say: “The I don’t want to know anything” Guy. That’s more accurate to what I meant.

  12. I could talk about a client we have now, but it’s probably safer not to talk… grrrr 🙁

  13. I had to comment – I’m the one who does not know anything about what you’re talking about. And you can’t expect me to…

    All your problems will go away with little education – people doesn’t know, they haven’t learned this. And they don’t act like this to minimize your work or insult you or make you hassle more…. they just don’t know better and I guess it is part of your job to tell them (us) that things are more complicated then this…I personally wouldn’t hire anybody who can’t explain things the way I understand – you don’t have to tell me all your secrets but tell me why I’m paying this much and for what – and not with complicated words I don’t understand to make me feel stupid, I already know you know more then me about this stuff.

    Just another point of view to think about it.

    • Would you not use a surgeon then who couldn’t feasibly explain to you ( a layman) the intricaces of his procedures

      Isn’t it supreme arrogance to assume that a designer’s skills are so basic that they can explained in minutes?
      If you are so distrustful then perhaps you need to learn the skills yourself ?

      I don’t hover over a plumber or an electrician working for me and question every move. I assume I have chosen well and that they are honest and skilled.

  14. I like the Elitist 🙂 Somehow it seems that he would be with big glasses, dirty hair and ketchup on his shirt.

  15. I’d like to add “The IT Guy”. Just because you wire your company’s phones and fix viruses on people’s computers doesn’t make you the web design genius! I have experienced so many IT dudes who MIGHT have dabbled in web design 15 years ago and think what they know is still relevant. And when their boss hires me to redesign their 90’s looking website, they hold their info hostage and wonder why I can’t just do everything under FTP.

    I don’t know about everyone else, but I LOVE answering questions and educating people! This is what I do for every single client and most of the time, all ears are open. But for me, the annoyance lies on people who think they know more than they really do and don’t ask the questions they need to.

    • SOOOOOOOOOOOOO true !!!! ??????????

  16. I HAD a client who had temper tantrums every time I told her that what she wanted could not be done. This happened when she handed me a sketch she wanted me to use for her website background and then a couple of other times for things that were minor. She would call me and rant endlessly, never letting me get a word in. I took a call from her one day as I was heading out the door and was forced to hang up on her because she was not allowing me to tell her that I would have to call her back. I then texted her and told her what had happened and asked that she not cal me again and just send her info/changes for the website via email. I just couldn’t take the harassment any longer. I finished her website and we have parted ways. Her last email to me stated how unprofessional I am. She said I was just the worst person she has ever dealt with. I spent over a year working on her site and dealing with her issues and trying to please her. I am very happy she is gone.

  17. Re. the client who wants Admin access: my contract states who gets the Admin role. If I’m responsible for the site, I’m the only one who gets it. Period. Absolutely no exceptions, ever.

    A totally different kind of arrangement: client gets the Admin role, and I am not responsible in any way for the website, but available strictly by the hour.

    All of this stated clearly in the contract, and followed. 🙂 Some supposedly “bad clients” are actually created by web developers with weak, vacillating business policies. :/

    • This ultimately solve this issue and right on to include this clause. Thank you very much Patty.


  18. +1 for what @Mari-Liis said. As a developer I need to be able to describe to the client, in their terms, what it is I do and how that’s going to provide a return on their investment. The client is trying to run a business and that’s the language they speak. The developer has to be able to be conversant with the client in that language or they’re both going to be frustrated and headed for a difficult relationship. It’s all about the communications.

  19. 11. The Lawyer Thief
    The one who wants a WP site, may host with you or not, but want everything first on paper, detailed procedures, how will images be optimized and which programs to use, how to access everything. Etc,. They want to read it over then inform you they found someone who can do the same thing for a cheaper price. All knowlage and experience just stolen and you feel used.

    Now I offer set prices for a complete website design and a monthly hosting and maintenance fee. This way I have admin control, clients don’t mess with coding, screwing things up and devaluing your design portfolio. As long as they pay monthly they have a site. No pay, no site. Simple so far.

    • you described in detail my first banking customer.. the IT department was headed by a lawyer (!!!). after 3 weeks of blowing my mind I dumped that guy. 1 month later the bank dumped him.

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