03 Nov A Vancouver Web Design Client’s Nightmare
Recently, I finished a WordPress installation and customization for a Vancouver Web design client. Though he needed Web design, he was also very suspicious of website designers and SEO types. He said the words “Web designers” with a hint of disdain, like Seinfeld saying “Newman”. His opinion of Vancouver website designers was honestly formed by his experiences with several. Yes, several…not one. One bad experience with a Web designer might be chalked up to bad luck or miscommunication, but three bad experiences in a row for a fairly straight forward Web design job had him looking at the whole Vancouver Web design industry with disappointment and disgust.
Enter me…another Web designer (“Newman”). Another potential source of angst and frustration who the client feared might do the same as the three prior Web designers who picked his pockets and delivered nothing. The atmosphere of our first meeting was tense: a suspicious client, who needs a website, needs to hire someone but doesn’t trust anyone who belongs to “that” club of people.
I listened to the horror story: three website designers hired to create a small site—a WordPress installation and customization—with modest requirements that should have taken several weeks to deliver. Three Web designers, in succession, who didn’t deliver, and who kept some or part of the money paid by the client. I must say, I did wonder if this had more to do with the client than the succession of designers. After hearing what had happened, it seemed the failing was a combination of frailties: designers who did not behave professionally; a client with specific (but not outlandish) needs that were mostly ignored; absolutely no attempt at managing their client’s expectations; a failure to listen and little attempt at involving the client in the creation of his own website.
I think many Web designers would be tempted to walk away from what might turn out to be yet another bad experience. It crossed my mind. Then I did something crazy, foolish many might say. I provided a fair quote for the job and said I wouldn’t ask for a dime until the site was finished and delivered. I said I’d do this with several conditions: he’d be involved every step of the way; we’d plan the design together, we’d plan the SEO strategy together, and that he’d help me minimize the risk of not taking a deposit by allowing me ample time to finish the site—6 to 8 weeks. Still, the would-be client looked at this offer suspiciously. What was my angle? I must have one. I’m a Web designer (“Newman”). We began.
We planned slowly. I asked questions. I answered questions. I respectfully made suggestions contrary to the clients wishes and provided cogent reasons for my opinions. I also tried to give the client what he wanted. We both came up with a solid SEO strategy after brainstorming sessions and education about what works and what doesn’t. I designed. I communicated. I set reasonable expectations and in the end I delivered as promised and more than promised.
The result was that the client was elated. Even surprised. In the end, he told me he was worried because he “didn’t want to wind up hating someone who seemed like a nice guy.” The experience was a lesson for both the client and me. The client learned that vetting your Web designer is a good idea, that insisting upon involvement is a good idea. I learned that sometimes, if you take a risk, you can turn a very bad situation into a very good one.
It’s not likely that I’ll do another job at a highly discounted price with no deposit because of the risk involved, but this time it seemed like the right thing to do. I have a feeling this will pay me in other ways. A happy customer is worth his weight in gold. When this client speaks of his experience with me, I look like a hero, when in fact, I am nothing of the sort. I just did what three Web designers failed to do—behave professionally.