Working with Clients

Whether you work for an agency or an internal web team, working well with clients is integral to the success of your web projects. Here is a collection of articles to help you do it better.

I have grouped the articles into the following sections:

  • Understanding clients
  • Communicating with clients
  • The client relationship
  • Process
  • Difficult clients
  • Getting paid
  • Legal stuff
  • The business case for web standards
  • Wrapping up

Understanding Clients

Cheaper Over Better: Why Web Clients Settle for Less

Why clients hire bad web designers — and what good web designers can do about it.

Understanding Organizational Stakeholders for Design Success

A design must meet the business needs of the company, and must be supported by disparate members of the management team, in order to be actually implemented.

Stakeholder Analysis: Winning support for your projects

Stakeholder analysis is the technique used to identify the key people who have to be won over.

Communicating with Clients

It’s Not About The Website

There is no more crucial step in a client’s project than the initial creative discovery meeting.

What Web Design Clients Need to Know

Sometimes web design clients don’t understand that building a successful web site doesn’t fall solely on the shoulders of the developer.

The Dumbest Guys in the Room

Getting design approval and then a project completed for a large corporate client is usually about trying to keep the dumbest people in the room from shooting themselves in the foot.

Design Questions

The discovery meeting is likely the most important moment in the life of a project. There is another vital aspect to this initial meeting: the specific questions asked.

Some key questions to ask your clients when designing quality sites for them

Many web designers have a terrific opportunity to shift from being web designers to being marketing consulting for their clients.

Documenting work keeps clients informed of and satisfied with your performance

Here’s how one consultant lets his clients know about the tasks he completes on their behalf using a Work In Progress sheet.

Educate Your Stakeholders!

If you spend the time to educate your clients or managers at the beginning of the project, it will be repaid many times over by better decisions later on.

Using Site Evaluations to Communicate with Clients

Performed as part of a sales proposal, a site assessment can help you speak knowledgeably about solutions to your potential client’s problems.

Ten Quotable Moments: Challenges and Responses for UI Designers

The following ten things have been said to me by actual clients and represent common and very human reactions to a new wrinkle in the process of building software: design.

Stakeholder Management & Planning: Planning stakeholder communication

Stakeholder management is critical to the success of every project in every organization. By engaging the right people in the right way in your project, you can make a big difference to its success.

Design by Metaphor

If a client says he wants his new auction site to be “like eBay,” what does that mean? An artist hears “It has a tacky color scheme.” A developer hears “It’s scalable to 20 million users.” A user hears “It has feedback ratings on all sellers.”

Why is it so Hard to Make Products that People Love?

Personas provide the shared vocabulary that bridges the different points of view within the company.

The One-Minute Test

Often, when we meet with design teams, we’ll reserve a few minutes at the tail end of the meeting to do an unusual type of wrap-up.

The Client Relationship

When the designer/client relationship should begin

I have been considering the point at which this relationship starts and wondering whether the designer should actually be engaged earlier in the development cycle.

How a Core Relationship Strategy Can Help You Increase Profits

A practical strategy to identify and enhance relationships with your best clients – and resolve your issues with the others.

The Resistance: Designers and Clients Go Head-to-Head

As no military plan survives contact with the enemy, no design concept survives contact with the client.


Never Get Involved in a Land War in Asia (or Build a Website for No Reason)

Throughout these projects, one thing has remained a constant: those with clear, well-written, strategies ran smoother than those without — and ended up pleasing everyone, including the client.

The Problem, the Balloon, and the Four Bedroom House

Without a problem, there is no project. Where there is a problem, however, there is a stakeholder who is desperate for a solution and who has a delivery deadline. Find out how a good process can tame even the most unruly project.

What’s the Problem?

One of the biggest problems in delivering a website, and yet probably the least talked and written about, is how to decide, specify, and communicate just what, exactly, is it that we’re going to build, and why.

Use Cases Part II: Taming Scope

The use-case model can be a powerful tool for controlling scope throughout a project’s life cycle.

How to Write a Web Site Creative Brief

Writing a clear, well-structured creative brief will get your web project off to a good start and keep it on track.

Get Out from Behind the Curtain

When used at critical points in the design process, these sessions build strong, respectful relationships. Since clients directly experience the design work, you don’t need to sell clients on an idea — they were with you the whole time.

Questions to Ask at Kick-Off-Meetings

It is important to understand perceptions of the scope, vision, goals, users, and content in order to work out any differences and to move everyone into the same plan for your new site.

Stand and Deliver

The good news is that designers already have what it takes to deliver gracefully under fire. It’s baked right into the job.

Successful Creative Briefs: Linking Business Objectives and Creative Strategies

The creative brief is one of the most valuable tools in the design process, providing a vital connection between business objectives and creative strategies.

Successful Web Development Methodologies

Web development need not be a hit-and-miss proposition. A unique development methodology, which allows the Web team to deliver complex projects on-time and on-budget.

Setting Up Business Stakeholder Interviews, Part 1

Interviewing is both art and science, and it is something that any UE practitioner with a little additional time and moderation skills can employ to extract clear business requirements.

Communicating Design Concepts Without Getting Skewered

A reminder to designers to not get so caught up in idea generation and specifying details that we lose sight of creating a coherent big picture for the design.

Avoid Edge Cases by Designing Up Front

Better planning and a beefed-up style guide may be exactly what you need to avoid markup derangement or, worse, a dysfunctional product.

Bridging the Gap with Requirements Definition

How do you ensure that your new product doesn’t flop? One effective method is to conduct a requirements definition phase before developing a new product.

Effective Project Management for Web Geeks

The basics and tools to control the phases of a project, prepare contingencies, manage client expectations, and effectively hand over the finished product.

In Defense of Scope Creep

Scope creep distorts our carefully structured schedules, making project managers weep. Have we run out of strategies for fighting this evil scourge? Is it hopeless? Maybe not. Maybe it can even be beneficial.

Walking Through Your Product Design With Stakeholders

It’s time to walk through your design approach with the project stakeholders, including management, developers, and users. What do you need to do to prepare for your presentation?

Using research to end visual design debates

Relying on subjective feedback to make design decisions can be disastrous and will result in a design that may be acceptable to your team but has no appeal to users.

Tips for Design Reviews

My thoughts on effective design reviews with product stakeholders (clients, business units, etc.).

Conducting Successful Interviews With Project Stakeholders

Interviews work very well for gaining insights from both internal and external stakeholders, as well as from actual users.

How to Manage Scope Change in a Web Project

Learn the standard techniques for defining and controlling scope, why the standard techniques seem to fail for most Web projects, and the latest best practices that seem to work for the Web.

Early and Often: How to Avoid the Design Revision Death Spiral

Through well-managed client collaboration, our designs are stronger and are more likely to serve our clients’ needs and satisfy the goals of end users.

Principles of Collaborative Web Development

The basic principles of collaborative web development: identifying stakeholders, recognizing the “Chaos Zone,” distinguishing the development and production phases of operation, identifying source assets, building direct feedback into work processes, and more.

Difficult Clients

Coping with Difficult Clients

There is no magic bullet to turn your difficult clients into dream clients. However, you can learn new skills that will make them much easier to work with, so you can be spending your time delivering service and products.

Learn to Love Complaining Clients

Explains the true value of client complaints and provides a step-by-step guide to complaint resolution, showing how to make complaining clients a part of your competitive edge.

Firing a Client

You’ve certainly read about great ways to salvage your relationship with a problem client. But what do you do when you just want to get rid of a client?

In Defense of Difficult Clients

It’s only by being forced to question our beliefs that we can be certain they’re right.

How to disarm 10 difficult client observations/requests

Some of the best responses we have to questions that can often derail an otherwise effective solution.

The Client Did It: A WWW Whodunit

On the fine art of telling bad clients to buzz off.

Getting Paid

Getting Your Clients to Pay Up

Tips to help you develop a hassle-free payment strategy that’s fair to both you and your clients.

Pricing Web Work — What Should You Charge?

Drawing up a quote is no simple task. Your client wants the cheapest price, but you have to make a profit. A break down of the quoting process.

Legal Stuff

Bulletproof Web Design Contracts

Covers the issues that even the most basic Web work agreement should address, and explains why you need to make sure they’re in every agreement you sign.

Who Are You Dealing With? Client Background Check Essentials

Before you jump into an agreement with that hot new business prospect, spend a little time on research. How likely is the client to pay your invoice? Will you be legally able to enforce your contract?

The Business Case for Web Standards

The Business Value of Web Standards

Do Web standards give organizations a return on investment? Does the transition to XHTML and CSS make financial sense? The answer to those questions is yes.

Web Standards For Business

Highlights the benefits of using Web standards for business sites. It is aimed at stakeholders from the marketing, communication and IT departments.

Why tables for layout is stupid

The use of tables is now actually interfering with building a better, more accessible, flexible, and functional Web. Find out where the problems stem from, and learn solutions to create transitional or completely table-less layout.

The Business Benefits of Web Standards

Discusses how adhering to web standards, and leaving behind proprietary markup and technologies, can contribute to a company’s business goals.

Wrapping Up

Designing For Clients Made Easy

Astute designers use a number of tactics to ensure they keep the project in control, on time, and on budget … and have some creative fun along the way!

Contractor or Scapegoat? Keys to Successful Contracting

The contractor is not always to blame for project failure, despite what the project manager may say. A look at why the contractor is the perfect scapegoat — and what they can do to protect themselves.

5 thoughts to “Working with Clients”

  1. I’ve read most of these articles articles already, but it’s great to have them all in one place and this came at a good moment. Thanks for compiling it and sharing!

  2. WOW thats one long post 😯
    I have read all the freelance switch articles and a lot of others but like Naomi I like how they are all in one place, so thank you Christian.

  3. I’m impressed by how many of these articles you’ve already read. A lot of them were new to me. It was also good to have a refresh on some of the others — there’s a lot of good stuff out there about working with clients and stakeholders.

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