I’ve had yet the umpteenth client the other day with an all too familiar issue:
OMG, HELP! My web designer quit!
And honestly, this madness is equally stressful on both the client as well as the designer. The designer just wants to get paid. And the client just wants their website finished. Sounds so simple and yet so difficult.
Here’s how you fix that…
The art of finishing a site
Break the site into 3 phases. Manageable chunks each with a focused goal and NO DISTRACTIONS. If it has to be said: the goal is NOT perfection, but to give the best effort within the allotted time-frame!
Understood? You don’t get to blow 6 months of time until you’re happy. You set a timeframe of 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, whatever. And you do the best you can within that time. Once that time has elapsed, run with whatever you have an consider it finished. If you think of a better idea later, it will be a separate project!
Otherwise, your website can’t finish because it’s stuck in an endless feedback cycle. I say it’s better to finish the darn site and thennnnn have it stuck in an endless feedback cycle. That way you’re constantly improving a finished product instead of delaying the finished project.
PHASE 1 – design (fixed budget)
- Give yourself a timeframe. Go crazy, have fun. Bounce wild ideas around.
- After your allotted time, design phase is over and you absolutely must move on to the next phase.
- Still have even more cool ideas? Too bad!
PHASE 2 – coding (fixed budget)
- Go ahead and code it or otherwise execute that design into a live functioning site.
- Assuming the designer is experienced, they budgeted correctly for it and finished on time.
PHASE 3 – customization (hourly budget)
- Now the client gets to make a round of tweaks.
- One to three rounds of customizations (and within reason) should be free.
- Anything else after that is set on an hourly budget.
Where many projects go wrong
Indecisive (client fault):
- Client unhappy with certain aspects and project is stalled indefinitely.
- This could be from a matter of poor designer skills.
- But most often due to a client that doesn’t know what they want. Or married to an impossible set of ideals. Can also be frustrating when a client wants a mix of 3-4 different competitor sites.
- Message to clients: please trust your designer!
De-prioritized project (designer fault):
- The designer didn’t budget enough for the project and then loses interest after the money is paid.
- Message to designers: either quote higher or don’t take on jobs you can’t finish.
Slow feedback (client fault):
- Client is late to give feedback and designer can’t find time to remember what the project details were.
Endless revisions (client & designer fault):
- Designer set a flat rate for the entire project including final customizations.
- Client keeps adding more and more to the end of project.
- Designer starts focusing on other new projects. Sometimes even quits current project entirely.
- Designer should set a few hours at end of budget for customizations. Once it goes over that, client has to pay an hourly rate. I think this is most fair for both parties.