Being a web designer for many years now, I have had several clients that have come to me looking for salvation after having bad experiences with other (not so awesome) freelance web designers. After listening to their woes, the 2 key areas that seem to pop up with them all is poor quality work and/or poor service. Most, but not all, were services offered at well below industry standard costs so, it seems that I really is the case that “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys“.
So, if you want to keep your clients happy here are a few things that are essential you avoid;
Set realistic deadlines and stick to them. If you are unsure how long it will take, then add some buffer to the date you give your client or be prepared to work through the night to get things done. Most clients are happy to wait for work to be completed, IF they know ahead of time how long it will take. Getting to an actual deadline and then telling a client “2/3/4 more days” is understandably very annoying for them as they may well have other deadlines set up around the completion of the work. If you go into a busy restaurant and have to wait 40 minutes for your food, you will be much less stressed/angry if the waiter informed you when you ordered that the kitchen was busy and food will take 45 minutes.
Miss deadlines and you can be sure that when the next project comes up that client will be looking for another freelancer, who sticks to their deadlines…like me.
Mid-project price Increase
Some freelancers quote a low ball price to get a new client then once the client is hooked, usually in the middle of the project, they decide that extra charges must be added for XYZ to finish the project. Sneaky and annoying…
Projects however, can and do sometimes change as they progress and so costs will also need to increase to cover any extra work. The key here is knowing what is extra work, and so it is important to be clear with the client before you begin what exactly is included and what is not. It doesn’t have to be a complicated contract, but as long as both parties know where they stand from the start, it avoids nasty issues later on. Make sure the project scope (what exactly you will and will not do) is discussed, and subsequently written down for both to reference.
It can take a fair amount of time to get the details down, but it is well worth it. You and your client will both benefit enormously when pricing is clear from the get-go.
Lack of communication
I have never had a client complain of being too informed on their web design projects, yet it is a common thing to hear complaints about previous freelancers being “always un-contactable”, “he’s a bit aloof. my teenage son can communicate better” or “he is usually talking gibberish”. Make sure your clients feel comfortable to ask the questions they need to ask and make time to answer them quickly and clearly .
Never assume what your client is thinking as it rarely is the case. Communicate and find out what their needs and goals are. Assuming anything can lead to disaster and as the saying goes,
“assumption is the mother of all fuckups”
Make sure you are available at reasonable short notice when clients have questions or concerns. You don’t need to be sat by the bat phone 24/7, but if emails or calls are not returned within a maximum of 24hrs then clients may rightly get frustrated. Even if you are flat out, take 30 seconds to reply with a quick not to let your client know you are snowed under and will get back to them in xx hrs.
Building a crappy website
Now, you may think this goes without saying, but if you provide your client with a crappy website that they hate, they won’t be your client for much longer. If their needs are out of your skillset, don’t take on the job, because once you get a reputation for providing shoddy work it will be hard to loose. If you need to sub-contract out web design areas you are not competent in then do so. You will make a little less profit, but you will have a happy, returning client.
If your client wanted a crappy website, they could well have managed to do that themselves.