7 Ways to Avoid Being Canned by Your Designer


Often, many people believe that you can only be fired by an employer. However, in many service industries, specifically the design industry, it is quite possible to be fired by your contracted service provider!  There are many articles available on how to be a good employee or service provider, how the customer is always right, and steps on how to better your working business relationships. This article isn’t one of those.  It is developed for all the clients out there who think they have a right to strong arm their designer just because they paid a service.

1. Don’t ask for Black when you wanted Cream.

Your designer is not a mind reader.  (Otherwise they probably wouldn’t have gotten into a business agreement with you in the first place.)  They don’t know how you take your coffee just as much as they don’t know what “put it where you think it should go” means.  Communication is the key with any relationship. Be clear. Be concise. Vague references, such as “put it on all pages” can be left wide-open for interpretation. WHAT on all pages? WHERE on the page? If you require something specific, BE SPECIFIC and don’t expect your designer to just “know” what should be there and where it should be.

2. Don’t be a Cattle Baron.

It’s important to understand your designer probably has more than one client. It’s ok to ask your designer to consider a price break for certain services. It is not ok to DEMAND your designer DO IT FOR FREE, because your over-inflated ego expects preferential treatment. This is not only unfair to your designer, but also to their other clients.

3. Don’t bat your eyes.

Get in the game.  This is YOUR website, so start participating.  I don’t care if you pay $4.95/mo or $495/mo.  Professional designers will always ask you to review their work. It is YOUR job as a client to ensure the additions and changes you have requested are just as you wanted. Don’t wait 6 months later to tell your designer items are missing or information is incorrect.

4. Quit barkin’ at knots.

If you need annual changes to your website content, don’t wait until the 11th month. Procrastination is bad business, for both you AND your designer.  They want to get your content up as soon as it’s ready so they can move on to the next client and project.  Plus it makes you look bad, unorganized, and wastes everybody’s time.

5. Don’t point fingers.

There are always three pointing back at you. It is YOUR JOB to communicate to your designer.  Your designer’s job is to DESIGN (see #2). If you can’t vocalize your vision, then draw it out on paper. Provide an example of another website as reference.  Provide examples to things that you DON’T LIKE.  And if you’re still not quite sure what you want, trust in your designer’s capabilities, but don’t be afraid to tell them (politely, quickly and respectfully – see #3) that what they’ve created isn’t exactly the direction you were thinking and perhaps now you’re a little more clear on where to head.

6. No bar tabs!

Be sure to pay your bills in a timely manner. If you need extra time, communicate that with your designer. Most designers are usually understanding and will allow extensions. Otherwise, get them paid! It’s the right thing to do. Don’t waste everybody’s time by beatin’ around the stump, askin’ everybody BUT your designer to explain the detailed invoice, complaining about the costs months after signing the contract or agreeing on a price (see #4).

7. Respect the fence line.

We try not to use hot wire ‘round here. Respect your designer and the profession. You may think web design is easy work. Truth is, technology has come a long way since the cookie-cutter days of FrontPage and freebies like Homestead. Many, many hours are spent researching and learning new ways to effectively portray businesses. Condescending snarky belittling remarks will only add tension to your partnership. If your designer tells you that something will take extra programming or design work, then it will take extra programming or design work. Period. A professional designer isn’t in the business to bleed every penny out of you.  But they do have to justify the cost of going back and doing that “little extra” thing you requested (see #1).  It is important to remember you hired them for their knowledge and skills, and to understand the designer does not have to tolerate your crap, just because you hired them!

If you need annual changesI