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Old 15th March 2006, 08:44 PM   #1
ACCTeam
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Default Do Clients Pay Before Viewing Sample?

Hello,

I know this sounds like a dumb question and for the most part I would more then assume, that the client always pay half the bill before you start but I dont understand how the client is ok with this.

Has anyone here ever show a sample of the graphic look of the website before being paid?

What I'm trying to understand is, lets say the client gives you some ideas on how they want their website to look and then after making the 1st draft, the client does not like it, how do you handle this. I know most contracts give about 3 remakes of the look but what happens if the client does not like the last re-design what do you do? What if you just dont know how to make what the client wants to have...do you say have a nice day and go separate ways, do you still charge a small amount and if you do charge, how do you figure the correct amount?


Please let me know how you might handle this, even if you never had this problem. I'm trying to make sure the client feels comfortable and is handle correctly. Thanks so much for the time and looking forward to hearing back...


Thanks,

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Old 15th March 2006, 08:55 PM   #2
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Hi ACCTEAM,

Here are some of the scenarios that we have run into.

A. We have done mock ups before where the client has not even decided on the vendor. I avoid this design scenario at all costs, but sometimes, like bidding on an RFP (request for proposal), it is part of the bid. If you really want the project, then you need to follow the rules.

B. We have not really run into where the client is not satisfied, (like we need to part ways), however, we have run into some sticky situations where the client simply can't make up their mind. Usually, we go back to the contract at some point and let them know (gently) that we have provided more than our terms and it is time to make a decision. (we have a project like this right now for a logo design).

Hope that helps a bit.

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Old 16th March 2006, 08:41 AM   #3
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I always get some money up front when dealing with new clients. If you don't, you are accepting all of the risk. If you spend 5 hours on a design that the potential client doesn't like, then that was 5 hours you could've used somewhere else. The big issue is trust. If the client trusts you, then they won't have a problem putting some money down. If you have a good portfolio, you can use that to gain the trust of the client. If you're new to the game, you will have to work harder. The only people that I will do mock-ups for are existing clients who I have a relationship with.

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Old 17th March 2006, 07:50 AM   #4
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Consider using a 1/3rd model for payment. After the initial meeting with the client to fact find, provide an estimate. At the second/third meeting where the client agrees to let you do the work, Ask for 1/3rd of projected estimate, 1/3rd will be due after mockups are approved, and the final amount due when the project is delivered. If initial costs are greater than the first 1/3rd then ask for an amount to cover costs.

Business relationships need to be treated with respect and formallity. Put your terms in a contract and documents that are easy to understand and follow. It is your responsibility to request appropriate income from your efforts, it is your clients responsibility to communicate his needs fully.

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Old 17th March 2006, 06:09 PM   #5
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As you can see, there are many ways of handling a client scenario.

Like other posters, it depends on the relationship for me. If they are an established client, there are few issues beyond getting the contract written and signed before beginning anything that will take a lot of time to do. For example, a site redesign is almost already set up, as you've worked together and know what is supposed to take place.

New clients seem to come in two flavors, in my experience: (1) They have no idea who you are or what kind of work you do [tough!] or (2) they have seen your work and want to know how much it would cost to do business with you [much easier!].

If the client has no idea what kind of work you do, your job just became that much tougher. There are basically two sub-scenarios, here: (1a) They contacted you and (1b) you are 'pitching' an idea to them.

(1a) Is usually a non-starter for me, as they are going to be very tough to deal with all the way down the line if they haven't done some basic research. They found your name in the yellow pages or something, and they have no idea what they want. I will usually request that they visit my portfolio and call back if they have an interest in the kind of work I do.

(1b) Is nerve-wracking but ultimately a great experience. You do a bunch of work 'on spec', hoping to land the gig. It's your job to research the client and determine where you fit in. When such a company agrees to work with you, you have a lot of leverage regarding getting a contract signed that includes some percentage of the payment up front. If you are pitching to many small companies or even individuals, your contract may not have as much money up front, but you can surely negotiate enough to cover the first phase of development.

Make sure your contracts include 'milestones' that trigger additional payment. That will keep you from getting a little then working your tail off and finishing the project before finding out that they aren't going to be paying you anything except the initial layout.

Above all: Always use contracts for any professional work, even for friends. Without one, everything you do is 'on spec', and you'll suffer a high percentage of deadbeats.

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Old 17th March 2006, 10:33 PM   #6
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Good Post, StupidScript. Lots of good info there.

Good point about milestoning out the projects. We have done a few like this.

Our normal standard is 1/2 down, 1/2 on completion, but this is normally for the smaller projects. (~5k)

We recently landed a large 8 month project where we went with 20% down and then went on a monthly retainer for the remainder of the project. For that particular RFP, the client wanted a 20% holdback in the end as well. We were OK with this, as we have a very strong relationship with them.

As stupidscript mentioned, the contract is key, and we have structured some pretty unique contracts. That is half the fun of being in business!

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Old 19th March 2006, 12:54 PM   #7
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Hello,

Thanks so much for everyone taking the time to help with some real good advice. It truly was very helpful and put some of my questions at ease.

The question I asked was not because I'm going theu it now, but am thinking of a 'What If'. To take this problem further, how would some of you handle this if after making the 3rd or 4th revision and client still not happy...how can you word it, that maybe they should look for another designer? How could you word it in a nice, professional manner?

Looking forward to reading,


Thanks

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Old 20th March 2006, 05:06 PM   #8
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BTW, Welcome to the forums, ACCTeam!

If a client isn't happy, or continues to be unhappy in the same way after the third or fourth design has been presented, you're usually faced with a communication problem.

A client is usually unhappy with something either because they do not understand why this is the preferred choice of the developer (they don't "get it") or for some other reason that is often out of the developer's control, like a bad home life or just being generally negative (they don't have the resources for decision-making on this topic). Ignoring what's out of your control, you must ask, "Have I communicated the idea behind the design successfully?"

It's very tempting and pretty common to email the client a composite graphic of the design or to even put it online for them to check out on their own, however this is not desirable. Few clients can appreciate the whys and wherefores of web design to such a degree that they should be let loose to wander through it unguided.

I've found that arranging a brief meeting with the client, either face-to-face or using some "shared browsing" soulition, has exceptional benefits to moving through any aspect of the development. During the meeting, you must communicate ("sell") the design to the client. Walk them through the navigational path, explain why you chose the colors and layout that you did, and explain to them how this will impact on their site visitors.

"See that image by the catalog link? That will draw visitors to that link and help improve sales." "The colors I am using have been proven to make people hungry, like you are, a little, right now. Also, they are arranged to draw the visitor's attention to the 'buy now' links ... subtle, but very effective." "Notice how the menus lead the visitor out of the question-asking stage and into the solution-buying stage." "Showing the sales price, as I have done here, is a very effective tool for making the sale." etc.

If, after all of that, they still reject proposal after proposal (and aren't paying any extra), then it's time to assess and possibly curtail the arrangement. Either they are not responding to your designs or they are too wrapped up in something else to come to a decision. Suggest one more design go-round, and offer to help them find them another, perhaps more appropriate, developer if they still don't bite.

Unfortunately, the design-acceptance phase of the relationship is still a "sales" phase, and probably has nothing to do with the design, itself.

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Old 23rd March 2006, 07:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACCTeam
Hello,

Thanks so much for everyone taking the time to help with some real good advice. It truly was very helpful and put some of my questions at ease.

The question I asked was not because I'm going theu it now, but am thinking of a 'What If'. To take this problem further, how would some of you handle this if after making the 3rd or 4th revision and client still not happy...how can you word it, that maybe they should look for another designer? How could you word it in a nice, professional manner?

Looking forward to reading,


Thanks
Hi ACCTeam

As your experience grows, learning to qualify what the client requires becomes a mandatory item, not only for saving your precious time, but also to not waste resources (whether those resources be $$ wasted in paying staff for continuous revisions or your own time that could be better utilised on other projects). If you have staff liasing with the client, make sure they qualify exactly what the client requires each and every time a revision is made, (or if it is only you then make sure you do), in a flow chart if necessary, and that way by the 3rd or 4th revision, the only changes being required by the client will be small revisions (such as colours - easily changeable via css).

Success in the web design industry comes from understanding clients requirements and placing those requirements into a format that the client approves of. Except for extremely exceptional circumstances, a 4th revision should not entail a scenario that the client does not like what they see. By the 4th revision, it should be a scenario that only minor adjustments are being made close to finalisation and publishing of the website. If by the 4th revision the client does not like what they are seeing, then the designer has not completed their job correctly and does not understand the client and that clients specific needs (except in the rare occasions of time wasters but that is another mini novel I will post about some time!)

Before even the first prototype is placed online for the client to review, follow these simple steps to reduce stress levels for both the client and yourself/your business/your staff. This crucial information once gathered, will give you both an understanding of your clients requirements, but also invaluable research material to determine what your initial drafts should look like for the client so changes become an easy and quick process as opposed to constantly providing new layouts or "look and feel" scenarios.

* Have a checklist for the client to fill out on what type of colour schemes they would like.
* Have them provide examples of other websites that they like the look of for different scenarios - colour combinations, layout, positioning, technology (addons such as mailing lists, newsletters, forums, etc). As many as possible and have them specify exactly what they like out of each website, so that you can determine what they are looking for.
* Ask them to describe what they would like to see accomplished with their new website.
* Ask them to specifiy where they would like to see their menu and navigation system (left, right/top/combination of both).
* Ask them if they are looking for a full width website or a set resolution.
* If a set resolution then ask them if they wish to have that centered or set to the left.
* Ask them if they are looking to have their "header" image/logo/graphics embedded into the top of the website as an include file, or whether they want their logo/image to become a "part" of their website (as opposed to a set header image).

There are many more questions you can ask, but these should be your golden rule basic set of questions. Have an online form available on your website that allows the client a quick and easy "fill in and push send" scenario so they can easily supply you with this information. By having these steps in place you portray an image of professionalism to the client, but you also gain much needed research material and data of the clients requirements, therefore making your understanding of the client much clearer, but also making the first draft easier to place online, and as long as you (or your staff) have interpreted this information supplied by the customer correctly, then your initial drafts should already be close to what the clients are requiring, with changes then an easy process having the base set. This information will also dramatically reduce the number of wasted hours spent revising and changing a "new look" for the client in the hope that they will "like" what your throwing up next. By accomplishing this method also, you end up having very happy clients who have no issue referring you to others that they know, because the whole process for them was an easy 1-2-3 step process, without being baffled, confused or angry over their "needs" not being understood, and they WILL tell their friends, family and colleagues about how "easy" it was to get their website online with your company/business.

Hope this helps!

Regards

Gav


Last edited by Gav; 23rd March 2006 at 10:19 PM.
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Old 27th March 2006, 03:39 PM   #10
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Wow! Such in-depth responses. I think I'm going to be quite please that I've joined this forum! And another Australian here too!

I can't really add much more to the great advice given so far, but I will say that starting out in this business and attracting new clients can be hard work, and can see you bending over backwards to attract them whereas as time goes on you'll probably do this less and less.

It may not be everyone's experience but dealing with sole traders can be great and also a real pain. It can be great if the person listens and uunderstands you and can make decisions, but on the other hand it constantly surprises me why some people are in business by themselves the indecisive they can be at times. Add to that their sometimes complete lack of ability to visualise a design you've already created and put in your portfolio with their colours, logo and information.

Perhaps if you're starting out in business ACCTeam, you might like to create as many templates as you think is necessary to portray a good variety of your work, then when tendering for work you may only need to change colours and perhaps a banner image for a prospective client.

Usually though, if you haven't already picked up on a prospective client's indecisiveness in their initial email or phone call, you will at your first meeting, so those alarm bells should tell you not to waste too much time with them.

Picking up from what Gav has said though, I agree very much with getting a client to answer as many questions (only I think several of the ones he raised are perhaps a little too specific), (I have a pretty comprehensive list of questions for design, re-design and maintenance in the contact section of my website) and getting them to show you as many other websites that they'd like theirs to look like.

Hope that helps and hopefully you won't have to worry about this too much as you do business.

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