Let’s talk about clients. If you’re a services-based business, no doubt, you have a love-hate relationship with most clients. You appreciate clients for their business and expertise of course, but they don’t always understand that their expertise is not your expertise. After all, they hired you for a reason.
Let’s take web design for an example. Sometimes clients have a very specific idea of what they want for a website. Maybe they saw their competitor’s [poorly] designed site and they want it just like that. Or maybe they want a page for every single service they offer, no matter how minute. Perhaps, they want everything they do to be on the home page, front and center. They might even want to include a dissertation on the latest research, pictures and graphics be damned. All very (read: not at all) smart ideas.
At some point, you have to take a firm stand and tell your clients “No.” Trust that your knowledge of the field exceeds theirs in most cases. This doesn’t mean they’re ignorant. No, never think that nor make them feel that way. But, it is imperative that you exert your expertise. Trust that you can work together to combine sensible techniques and tactics that can make a website desirable to the eye (and, more importantly, search engines) without compromising business exposure.
“Wait a minute,” you say. “What happened to the customer is always right.” I know, I know. It’s easier to just acquiesce to your client’s demands, but is it really worth it to compromise not only the integrity of your own skills, but also the integrity of the business as it relates to their web presence? This is a call you’ll have to make.
But although integrity is important, you also must be able to discern which battles are actually worth fighting. As you know, not all of them will be worth your time. Clients do have valuable insights about their consumer base and business practices that should be taken into consideration. You become better at your job when you can incorporate both visions seamlessly.
These principles ring true outside of a web design lens as well.
We discuss this more in our recent blog post about dealing with persistent clients. Be sure to check that out.