Andy Rutledge wrote a post that is frighteningly on target. He argues that the “quality of your client experiences is directly proportional to the quality of your professionalism”. He goes on to state that if your clients are “stupid” you may want to take a step back and consider who may truly be responsible for these failed interactions. He starts by pointing out how you can set yourself up for failure before you even start on a project:
If you don’t research and vet your potential client before asking them to sign your contract, stop being stupid. If you bid on projects even though the potential client doesn’t know much about you or why you’d be a good (or bad) choice for them (they “just need a web designer”), stop being stupid.
He continues by analyzing how web designers can continue to lay the groundwork for “stupid” clients by failing to have a proper workflow in place:
If you aren’t the one defining the project process, stop being stupid. If you don’t define, police, and unfailingly adhere to specific milestone requirements and deadlines for both yourself and your clients, stop being stupid. If you’re producing design artefacts before completing a comprehensive discovery process, stop being stupid.
Too often, we rush blindly forward into new projects and new relationships with clients. This process is not at all conducive to high quality work. Quality work requires an investment of time and a devotion of resources. To craft a site of true quality, you need to take a step back and slow the process down — making sure you understand the problem you are trying to solve and ensuring that the solution you are proposing is the right solution for that particular problem.
While the stupid tag may feel a bit confrontational it does not detract from the argument that Rutledge is making: not all failed relationships are the fault of the client. By failing to invest the proper amount of time and attention into planning, research, and careful consideration of requirements, firms and freelancers often set themselves up for failed client relationships.