There are many types of clients that web designers and developers will have to deal with. Some are easier to work with than others. If you work in web design or development long enough, you will encounter all of these clients. In this article, we’ll take a look at 17 types of clients.
Tips for handling these 17 types of clients
I’ve added tips for handling some of these clients as I discuss them. Other tips are more general and I’ve added those in bullet points at the end. Hang around to the end for a resource to help you manage working with these clients.
They know more than you.
I need it A.S.A.P.
The terrible communicator.
Just one more thing.
I don’t want a maintenance plan.
I want something like this.
Pay you later.
The disappearing client.
Let’s meet each client and explore some of their characteristics.
1. They know more than you
These clients are often micromanagers who want to tell you you’re doing everything wrong. They think they know your job as well as you do. They might have taken web design in college 10 years ago, but have no recent experience. Some research everything and think they understand it.
2. I need it A.S.A.P.
They underestimate how difficult something is and how much time it takes. Some drag their feet to get back to you and then want fast results.
Make your deadlines clear.
Don’t set aside other responsibilities to meet their deadlines when they’re not meeting them.
3. The terrible communicator
This client thinks they’ve explained what they want, but they’ve left out important details. They don’t read or respond to your emails. They won’t answer your questions even though it will solve their problems. Ask them three questions and they answer “yes,” but you won’t know which question they’re answering.
Terrible communicators will shift blame to you, even though they never answered your questions.
They might want to talk on the phone, but you won’t have a written record of the conversation you can refer back to. Often they will blame you for something that’s not what they wanted, even though they never responded to your questions.
4. Lower prices
These clients want you to lower your prices for them, but they don’t lower their prices for anyone and wouldn’t appreciate anyone asking. Your skills are worth what they’re worth. You don’t need to lower your prices and supply high quality to a client who isn’t willing to pay for it.
Any client who wants you to lower your prices will always want to pay low prices.
They will tell others about you and you’ll attract lower-paying clients. They work for profit and so should you.
5. The tinkerer
They know enough to break it but not fix it, and then won’t acknowledge that they broke it. They blame the website when they’re actually making mistakes.
6. Just one more thing
This client constantly wants to add to the scope of the project. The project becomes larger and larger, but you still need to produce the final product on time and within the existing budget. Sometimes they want to add a feature but they don’t want to increase the price.
Set the project up in stages and add features to the various stages. When they want to add a feature, let them know it will have to be added at a later point.
7. Multiple options
This client doesn’t know what they want. Instead of making a decision, they want you to fully design multiple options so they can choose and pay for the one they want.
8. Can’t decide
This client can’t make a decision. They often want you to make the decisions for them, but they should know more about their business than you do.
9. The committee
They do everything by meeting with their staff, and they want you involved. This person is slow at making decisions.
10. I don’t want a maintenance plan
This client doesn’t want to pay for maintenance, but they constantly have issues and assume it’s your responsibility to solve them. If you refuse to fix them, they tell everyone you’re at fault.
11. I want something like this
These clients are able to point you to a few things they would like to have in a website, then they get out of your way and let you work. This is the dream client.
12. The perfectionist
This client can’t be satisfied with a design. They’ll want a design to look a certain way on one screen, but they won’t understand how that affects other screens. They’ll want one change after another because they’ll always see something they don’t like.
13. 1,000 changes
This client wants to change the design after the design is settled.
Changes cost time and money.
Give them limited options. Reduce the number of revisions you’re willing to offer them.
14. Pay you later
They seem trustworthy. They promise to pay. But you never hear from them again. Always get part of your payment up front, and never give them the final work until payment is made in full.
15. The disappearing client
They will get you started on their project, but then disappear. They might come back months later and want you to continue working on their project, but then you might have to start over because of changes on the web. Chances are good this client will disappear again.
16. The talker
This client constantly wants to talk to you on the phone or set up a Skype call. Sometimes they don’t even talk about the project. They don’t realize that your time is valuable, and they’ll take as much of it as you’ll let them.
This client will see the smallest problem as the biggest problem and they’ll want you to drop what you’re doing and fix it — even if there isn’t a problem or if it’s not your problem.
Tips for handling these types of clients
Undoubtedly, if you’re in the web design business for any significant amount of time, you’ll encounter most types of clients. Here are some best practices for handling them:
- Create a clear contract.
- Keep good records.
- Get everything in writing.
- Sell them a maintenance plan.
- Sell them extra training.
- Bill for extra work.
- Don’t bother discussing what you like. It’s not about you.
- Use facts to deter them from bad decisions.
- If a project is hopeless, drop the client and move on. Either provide them with what they paid you for or give them a refund.
- Don’t bother trying to fix bad clients. It’s far better for you and your business to find good clients.
- Develop your communication skills.
- Be fair.
- Remember, it’s a partnership. Think win/win.
- Build trust.
- Know the types of clients you feel comfortable working with.
- Know the type of work you want to do.
With these practices in your client management toolkit, you’ll be much better prepared to manage even the most challenging clients.
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