Most of my readers will know that I support my work as a pastor with two other jobs. I work at Starbucks part-time for the benefits for my family and then I spend about 20 hours a week building websites.

I really love my work as a web designer, its a nice avenue for me to be creative. Over the years, I’ve worked with about 50 clients and most of them have been great. But every once and a while I get the stereotypical client who just doesn’t have a clue about how to treat and respect a webdesigner. It’s usually not because they are bad people, but more because they are just ignorant of what goes into building a site. In fact, its often the nicest people that are the worst offenders.

My favorite people are the ones who want a full website for free and then say, “It will be great advertising for you.” Of course, they are convinced that their website is going to be so famous that I will begin overflowing with work requests. But, considering they are asking for a free website, there is a good chance they will average about 20 hits a year. I heard one time (i forget where i heard this) that I should tell these people to go into a tatoo parlor and ask the artist for a free tatoo and in exchange they will tell people where they got it.  Really, I’d like to see someone try this.  But I’m guessing it won’t go too well.  Especially if you visit one of those really-big-Harley-biker-mean-looking kind of tatoo artists.

I was reading this article today called If Architects Had to Work Like Web Designers that captures the essence of what I am trying to get at.  It’s a great satirical piece on working with designers.

If you are working with a designer here are some thoughts I have:

  1. Trust them. They are the designer. You are not. That’s why you hired them.
  2. Your opinions are very important, they are serving your needs.  But, do your homework and make sure you know what you want.  “I want a cool website” is not really helpful for a designer.  We can’t read minds (at least, most of the other ones can’t).
  3. Be ready to write content right away and its even better if you already have your content written.   This is usually the hardest part of the project because it takes a lot of work to write content for a website.  But, its really hard to structure a website that doesn’t have any content yet.
  4. Remember, in most cases you are not the only client the designer has. You probably won’t get your site built in 24 hours (unless the designer is really slow or just really likes you a lot.  Of course if you pay a ton of extra money you might get it done faster too!)  Of course, its a good idea to set some goals with the designer and have a scheduled launch date.
  5. When you don’t make the launch date, realize that it’s not just the designers fault.  It goes both ways. Sure they may have dragged their feet a little on the timeline (and you should call them on that if this is the case), but if they spent three months waiting for you to send them a site outline, or a site structure or your logo then there is not much they could have done.  If you decided you wanted three new features included in the project then that will probably extend the amount of time it take to build the website.
  6. Creating a great website takes time. Lots of it.  Don’t be surprised when it costs a lot of money, especially if you are getting a totally original project that is not based off of a template. You might think, “All i want you to do is make this doodad do such and such?”  and it sounds easy.  But, it might take 10 hours of writing code to make that seemingly simple thing happen.
  7. It will cost you money (unless someone is doing you a big favor). Time is money. Realize that this person is doing a service for you that you can’t do for yourself.  This means you will have to spend money. And, if you add three new features to the site mid-project, be prepared to put out some extra money as this means it will take more time.  If you are having a house built and mid-project you decide that you want an extra room added on, its going to cost you more.

Those are just some thoughts off the top of my head.

Any others to add?

Of course, there are some rules that web designers need to follow better when dealing with clients but that’s for another time and another place.