I have to say working in this profession has taught me a few lessons in human behavior. I love collaboration and creation, working with someone or someones on a creative project that I know is going to improve their lives in one way or another is the color of my soul. When asked what are my passions, my go-to is always collaboration and creativity.
So, I bring this passion to the table when I meet with clients and I recently read a blog by best seller and marketing guru Seth Godin offering advice to business owners and entrepreneurs who are thinking about hiring a website designer. It was interesting to me because he named four “paths” to working with a designer. You can read the blog post for yourself, it’s short and then come back here for my perspective. Go ahead, I’ll wait….
The four paths, Seth describes are “I know what I want.” “I’m not sure exactly, but I know what it rhymes with.” “I’m not a designer, but I understand state change.” and “I’ll know it when I see it.” What I see him describing are the divide in attitudes that I see when meeting with a client for the first time. My version of these are similar but slightly different. I never know what I’m going to walk into when I meet a client, but they do tend to break down into four types (paths). My experience with new users as well as Seth’s thought can help you build a better relationship with the designer you decide to work with. Here are my thoughts, based on reading Seth’s post.
- I know what I want. These kind of clients can be very easy or very hard to work with. I say that because if they know what they want and are able to convey that to me I have no difficult running with their concept and as a rule the client is happy with the results – but not without a tweak or two. However, I’ve had clients who know what they want, but then are either not able to convey that or discover along the way that they really don’t like the design they asked for, they don’t like the color, the font choice, something. When I was building sites by writing code I would create mock-up home pages for the client to review which would allow them to see what their vision looks like in real time. WordPress allows me to do something similar but with the site itself, customization changes are quick and easy. The take away here is exactly what Seth mentioned. When you meet with me, or any designer, the more you bring with you the quicker and easier it will be to get the design you want.
- I’m not sure exactly, but I know what it rhymes with. These are the clients I mostly get. Whether they are updating an old site or setting up a new one, they say “Take a look at www.thissiteIlike.com and let me know if you can create something like that for me.” I often find that these clients are easy to work with, though sometimes they can send me on a treasure hunt, when they find something they like that the web designer has added in custom code, but solving puzzles is one of my favorite parts of what I do. If you fit into any one of the four paths, this is the one you ought to take. If you have an inkling of what you’re looking for, find other sites that offer that and send the links. It’s much simpler than #4…(ugh)
- I’m not a designer, but I understand state change. This is an interesting path in that people who come to me because they want to improve their current site or add a function, like a sales funnel or membership program already have a site they like, they just want to improve it. In this case it is usually just about customizing a plugin (software that adds functionality) to fit with their current design. On the other hand, sometimes the owner knows that their site is outdated and wants to make it more modern, but it still helps for the owner to have ideas about what they want, either using path 1 or 2 to convey their desires.
- I’ll know it when I see it. Seth and I both do not recommend this at all, but I have had some cases where the client said “I trust you, just build me something and I’m sure I’ll love it.” Interestingly enough, I have successfully designed a website or two, under these circumstances, that the client loved right away, but that is not the norm. So, even when a client tells me that they want me to “surprise me!” I spend time with the client to get a feel for what they like, who they are targeting and what kind of message they want to send and then send samples, from other sites and theme demos, before I start working. This extra work adds to the cost of the design, but I find a handful of clients for whom this path works best.
To be honest, Copper Moon Media can work with any client’s style as long as communication lines are open. I will quickly shut down a project and recommend that the client find another designer if the client 1) expects me to read their mind, 2) doesn’t get back to me with answers to questions I have and then asks me when the site is going to be done and 3) continues to dislike every design concept I offer and can’t tell me why or what I need to change. I don’t want to waste their time or mine if it becomes obvious that we are not compatible. That doesn’t have to happen; however, because I am easy going and interested in creating a beautiful and professional design for my clients. As long as they know who, what, and why and are willing to collaborate, I can work out the when, where and how.