Let the client ruin their website

F**k 'em

-- Olde English Proverb

Here's something I wish somebody had told me when I was just starting out: let the client ruin their website if they want to.

We have all been in the situation before. A seemingly perfectly designed and coded website. The team are slapping each other on the back and congratulating themselves on an excellent job well done. Then the phone rings, it's the client; they want to change x, y and z, which, sadly, compromises the quality of your work. Backslapping ceases.

Some discuss this quandary as if it were the muse of Rodin's thinker. But the solution is simple; let them ruin their website if they want to.

Warn them, then make their changes anyway

In the real world, when you find yourself in the situation, here's what you do.

1) Strongly advise your client why they should do something or not do something - use your serious face & tone of voice.
2) Explain you are the expert and you don't think it's a good idea; that it could directly effect their ROI.
3) Swallow the bitter pill. Tell them that all this said. Ultimately you understand they pay the bills and you will do what makes them happy...even if you don't think its a smart idea and, only upon the understanding that you won't be supporting the resulting tangle free of charge.

It shouldn't be that hard to update your designs and code

If your code is not modular and not object orientated enough that it can't be adapted, then you are doing it wrong.

Likewise, if your photoshop file is such a mess you can't work with it, well that's not the client's fault either.

And if you have failed to educate the customer regarding this process adequately, how amends work and how they are priced...well that's your fault too.

Make the changes

Assuming the client has the money to pay for their changes, the only problem left is the pride and the ego of those working on the project.

Pride and ego are great attributes in artists. But agency workers are not artists - so if anyone has an artisan hissy fit, well just slap em atop the head and tell them to grow up. Alternatively, take them for a beer and and tell them it will all be OK; whatever your preferred management style is.

Then make the changes anyway.

Think long and hard about how to prevent this happening again

With proper planning and adequate workflows, you never need to be in this situation again. Things that can help prevent this kind of problem...

  • Having the client sign off designs and functionality
  • Making sure your contact is able to sign off and have the final decision on matters relating to the project
  • Function & Technical specifications
  • Thorough terms of service.
  • Spending time educating clients regarding workflow.

Of course, you can do all of these things and still end up in this scenario. In which case; let the client ruin their website; it will make them happy, which should make you happy; and the merry-go-round of agency life will keep spinning on.

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Edd Smith

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