Those Things Every Web Designer Dreads to Hear From Their Clients

Client feedback is a huge – and often extremely useful – part of life for any web designer, whether you’re a freelancer or an agency worker. At our agency, we believe it helps us adapt to meet our clients’ needs, gives us vital insight into the strategic thinking behind the project, and can even help us to improve.

However, putting it diplomatically, some feedback is better than others. While the majority of client responses we receive are clear, reasoned and empathetic, some are a little less helpful. Here are seven classic examples of bad feedback that made us want to faceplant our keyboards in frustration.

“I don’t like it”

You’ve spent countless hours on a project, striving to hit your deadline without sacrificing quality, only to hear the four little words guaranteed to strike fear into the heart of any web designer: “I don’t like it.” This particular piece of feedback is especially frustrating because it leaves the designer with little or no idea of what the client dislikes and why.

Vague feedback is always a tough obstacle to overcome. Perhaps the best solution to this is verbal communication or a face-to-face meeting with the client to figure out what exactly they’re not happy with, and how to meet their expectations as well as producing a top-quality design.

“I’ve changed my mind, I want to change the branding”

Nothing can stop a web design project in its tracks faster than a client who’s suddenly decided on a change of branding. You’ve spent days on end perfecting a design, only for the client to come along and completely alter the scope, therefore creating much more work for you. The only silver lining to this one is that the client is most likely footing the bill for all that extra work.

“I mocked this up in Paint so you can see how I want the screen to look”

One word: Patronising.

“I want to see as many list items as possible on the screen, so can you reduce the spacing on everything?”

Obviously we can understand the motivation behind this one – clients want people to be able to easily access links to all of their most important pages without forcing them to scroll up or down – but it’s also a surefire way to ruin a well-thought-out design. The net result here is always going to be a cluttered design that will be both unfriendly to the user and visually unappealing.

“I want it to be like Tinder”

Don’t get us wrong, Tinder’s swipe-right, swipe-left functionality is a really cool and successful feature – in fact, it’s arguably one of the most iconic pieces of mobile app design. However, using this same feature on a product when it doesn’t make sense is just plain wrong, and it’s not producing anything innovative.

“I see your point, however change it anyway”

This one is very much a case of the client stamping their authority by reminding you who’s paying the bills. The client not listening to the experts is a bad move – after all, if they had the expertise or resources to carry out the work in-house, they wouldn’t have contracted you in the first place. Not only that, but it also stifles our creativity, which is likely to produce less-than-inspiring results.

“I want the quick download form to include: (everything)”

The clue is in the name: a quick download form has to be quick to complete, otherwise people simply won’t bother. But some clients get greedy: “We need the first name, last name, email, date of birth, address, postcode, phone number, company (and so on and so forth).

Of course, the important thing to ask is: “How much of this information do you actually need?” Ultimately, a lengthy list of names and email addresses is likely to be far more useful to your client than a tiny number of completions from a much longer form.

What about you? Do you have any web design client horror stories you would like to share?

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Andrew Daniels

Andrew Daniels is the managing director at Degree 53, an award-winning web design and app development agency based in Manchester, UK. Degree 53 were recently recognised as one of the North's 50 fastest growing tech firms and continue to produce innovative designs for their growing client base.

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