Do Your Clients (and Yourself) the Favor of Being Honest With Them
I have caught myself in this position too many times.
A client asks for something or requests changes and instead of telling them why I think they shouldn't do that or why something should stay the way it is, I go along with their decision. After all, they are the client, right?
I had a recent project wrap up that if given the opportunity to do over I would have done things very differently. The clients were embarking on a new chapter in their lives, and their website was for a new business. They felt the best way to monetize what they were doing was through advertising (because of course that's what everyone else in their market is doing. Logical? Yes. Best approach? Not necessarily).
We ended up going down a rabbit hole of customizing an advertising plugin (in conjunction with a Geo IP targeting plugin), and it sucked the life out of everyone. They were so sold on the idea because people in their industry said they wouldn't pay for information and that the advertising was going to be the end all be all.
Here's the problem with that.
To make money with advertising you need traffic.
If you're not going to be paying for traffic, you better be creating awesome content, doing guest posts, reaching out to people in your industry and making connections.
I knew this, yet I didn't “own it”.
I should have at least had a conversation with the client. Not because I'm a traffic expert, but because it would have been the right thing to do (and I totally get that this could have opened an entirely different can of worms, but it may have saved the client and myself hours of frustration).
Clients often get caught up or stuck on the things that won't help their business. If you position yourself as the expert, it's your responsibility to guide your client along the way, so their site meets their objectives (of course you need to ensure you're walking your walk and are doing the things you tell your client they should be doing or at least have experience in those areas). If you start with the end in mind, you're going to be able to bring them back to what they told you their objective was.
The most common objective?
This could mean leads, registrations, sales of products or services or all of the above. It's not about pixel alignment or having every possible endzone available “just in case”.
Needless to say, I've been given the opportunity to do “the right thing” with a new client.
Per the client’s very clear instructions, the goal of the new site is webinar registrations.
After a couple revisions of the selected mockups and way too much attention to things that won't help him meet his objectives, I pulled out the big guns.
I did a screencast clearly explaining which elements of his notes I agreed with, which ones I didn't (in a diplomatic manner) and brought him back to his objective. Which was webinar registrations (for what it's worth, it's taking everything in me to keep from adding snarky side notes. I'm breaking my arm patting myself on the back).
How do I feel about this?
Even if the client doesn't agree with my suggestions, I can move forward knowing I didn't compromise myself and was honest with the client.
For me, compromising leads to resentment and no one wins.