Mark Madison asked:
I often wonder what you folks do when you have clients that want things that they shouldn’t have. In the example you gave, the designer thought social was a dead end street but she went and made the ‘heart’ anyway which in the end got scrapped. Do you put your foot down with such a client, reason with them, do what they want while holding your nose? What do you do?
He was asking in reference to yesterday’s post about bad designers but this pertains to EVERY part of life. From web design to programming to parenting.
Putting your foot down
People hire us because of our expertise. If we don’t tell them the second we think they might be going down a rabbit hole, or focusing on something unimportant we’re not doing our job as consultants, so yes we let them know right away if they’re proposing something we don’t agree with. But I don’t think of it as putting my foot down as much as working with them to understand the root problem and helping find smart solutions.
Our ENTIRE process is set up to figure these sorts of things out. Before we get to this point we have a list from the client of their organizational and website goals. Then we work with them to prioritize features. If the client can explain why that feature or design element helps achieve a goal and if they’ve prioritized it above other things we’ll want to understand why.
Reason with them
Again, this sounds confrontational. Instead we look for ways to quickly and cheaply prototype it. Let’s get some data. We were looking with one client which needed a bunch of links on their home page. There was a lot of pressure around it, but they still wanted the home page to be “clean” with “a lot of white space”. So we had them add all the links they wanted to their current (ugly as sin) website, and then just looked at the numbers for 2 weeks. At the end of two weeks it was clear that one of those links should be on the site and the others shouldn’t.
Do what they want while holding your nose
And if I catch anyone at Gravity Switch doing this I offer to pull them off that task or that project. You can’t do a great job for something that you hate or disagree with. So why not give the assignment to someone who’s excited for it?
Look there are 3 reasons that you’re not excited for doing something:
- Boredom – Have you done something like this a dozen times? Do you need fresh eyes on it? If so let’s get some fresh eyes on it. It’s better for everyone. Maybe you just need to brainstorm with someone, or maybe you need to hand it off and let someone else take a stab at it. Sometimes you still have to do it, in these cases how can you think outside your box? How would someone else you admire approach this problem?
- Unrealistic Expectations – Are you asked to get 40 hours of work done in 5 hours to test out a feature with dubious value? It’s definitely worth communicating this as soon as you can. Just saying “I don’t think I can even have something to show you in less than 5 or 10 hours, are you sure this is worth it?” can open some great conversations. Maybe you’re thinking of something more complicated than what’s needed, or maybe there’s a quick way to test it and get some data before committing to it.
- Insecurity – Hopefully this isn’t you, but if it is admit it. The woman who wrote that article I linked to yesterday was blaming all the men at her old job for them not choosing her social media icon is a perfect example. She could have asked “why” they wanted a social media icon, or what they hoped to accomplish for it, or what their target audience was. If their target audience is 90% male then, yeah the heart she made was to feminine. They did a study recently and discovered that the number one trait that separates people who do AMAZING at school and the rest is willingness to fail and for people to see your failures. I’d say the same applies to life.