If you’re having a problem with multiple designers bailing on you, ignoring your phone calls and emails, it may be time to evaluate what really went wrong.
It’s a very tough spot to be in. A potential client calls me to discuss his or her website design. Before I get one word in, they go off on a tangent about how they’ve been wronged by so many designers.
“Everything was going so well,” they explain. “Then one day, my designer just disappeared. It happens over and over again, and I just don’t understand why these designers keep ripping me off.”
Maybe you really did get ripped off. There are some bad eggs out there, after all. But more often than not, designers disappear because they’ve reached their limit. And unless they are under a contractual obligation to you, or have been paid for work that wasn’t delivered, they technically have the freedom to walk away.
Explaining this to a perfect stranger is very hard. But we have to look at this objectively. Multiple people have disappeared and you’re the common denominator. There’s either a serial killer at large, picking off designers one by one in some Friday the 13th storyline, or more realistically, you’re probably just hard to work with.
Here are some important questions to ask yourself:
- Were you unneccessarily critical or downright rude to your designer? Or is it possible you came across as rude without intending to?
- Were you unreliable, did you skip meetings, and/or were you late with payments?
- Were you scattered or disorganized with planning the website?
- Were you constantly calling or emailing the designer throughout the day?
These are just a few possible scenarios. Whether you think they’re right or wrong, the reality is that they can cause a designer to abandon a client. And since many designers live paycheck to paycheck, they have to make tough decisions about whether or not to stay with a client. If the client is difficult, or takes up too much time, the designer might have to sever that relationship so they can focus on more productive and lucrative projects.
Clients who are late with payments, even if just by a few days, are an especially big factor. Designers work hard to meet your deadlines and expectations. Once the project is finished, they want their client to be just as quick to pay them. Again, this isn’t a matter of right or wrong. It’s simply a statement of what many designers expect from their clients.
So why don’t designers just tell you there’s a problem?
In a perfect world, that would be the best solution. Open, honest communication is a wonderful thing. Unfortunately, many clients are not too enthusiastic about being told by their designer that they are very difficult to work with. The conversation can backfire, get heated or aggressive, and often times ends very badly. In the long run, by trying to be honest, the designer has created an enemy for life.
As crazy as it sounds, it’s almost better to just leave a client confused and bewildered. It’s the lesser of two evils because there is no actual verbal confirmation that you were the problem. You may be a little upset, but at least you won’t have the overwhelming anger from having somebody tell you that you’re difficult.
So how can you fix it?
Let’s say you’ve evaluated the situation, and concluded that yes, you may have been difficult to work with. First of all, make amends. Send them an email, let them know that you’ve thought about things and want to apologize. Offer to talk about it, while remaining calm and open minded, and maybe you’ll be able to start working together again.
Maybe the designer will be open to it, maybe he won’t. And hey, maybe the designer is just a bad guy. Like I said, not every designer is a saint. Whatever the case, it’s good to resolve issues, if at all possible.
And moving forward:
Next time you’re looking for a designer to hire, don’t start off with a rant about what went wrong in the past. It sets a negative tone for working together. Instead, focus on the positive, discuss the goals you’d like to accomplish, and be mindful of some of the things that caused problems in the past so they aren’t repeated. You may be really shocked to see things take a very different path next time around.