14 comments

  • Wes OudshoornWes Oudshoorn, over 2 years ago

    One of the things I find hard to read about this article, is that the writer takes the role of the victim. The rules he lays out for his clients are focussed on a better working relationship, but are focussed on his terms, and all that could go wrong if the client does not obey to them.

    • Make sure you have enough money
    • Respect my creative process
    • Just let me do my work, my way
    • Communicate on my terms

    Now it is not wrong to have standards of being "professional" with your clients. But this focusses on all the things that could go wrong, while not inspiring potential clients about the outcome, about all the beautiful stuff that could happen in a great working relationship.

    No we're not products. We're tools. And sometimes the best ROI is a cheap tool, creating something that has been done before, with a pretty fixed scope, price, and less creativity than tackling big problems. And if you're not that kind a designer, that's fine - just say no to those projects. But I know plenty of designers that make a great living, have great client relationships, and don't mind getting a text instead of email from their clients.

    12 points
    • Lior FrenkelLior Frenkel, over 2 years ago

      Hi Wes - Lior here - the writer :)

      I agree with most of what you wrote and some of your conclusions.

      I wrote it from my personal point of view - I do say no to those projects. But I understand and totally am happy for other creatives that feel differently :) The letter presents only my truth, not an absolute truth.

      I think I did mention the good outcomes that could happen, and how much I want to work with and for those clients. But maybe I didn't bold it enough.

      Anyhoo - thanks for being very open and honest about the letter. Appreciated!

      1 point
      • Wes OudshoornWes Oudshoorn, over 2 years ago

        Hi Lior, thanks for your reply.

        I've just read the piece again and I think my main critique still stands. Every "principle" has a great point, but is buried in negatives. It would make me nervous as one of your customers, afraid to do something wrong.

        You see, I've had clients that didn't appreciate my creative work. And I've had clients who've hurt my feelings. Then there's those that pissed me off. I've had projects terminated earlier than expected. And clients that didn't pay for my work. Those that didn't return my calls.

        Hiring a creative isn't like buying a TV or a car.

        Maybe you aren't interested in a high quality end product

        It's disrespectful.

        Please don't ask to see my work every other hour, and I'd ask you not to micro-manage me. I cannot focus when you are looking over my shoulder 24/7. It's stifling.

        Please don't ask me for "A Logo" or "A Viral Video".

        3 points
        • Chris DroomChris Droom, over 2 years ago

          This part also jumped out at me:

          I've had clients who've hurt my feelings

          This paints the picture of a fragile prima donna, not a professional designer — which is probably incorrect.

          4 points
  • Chris Steib, over 2 years ago

    I've been (and continue to be) on all sides of this client-consultant relationship -- today as a freelance UX'er and an entrepreneur who hires UI design and developers, and formerly as a VP of Product who worked with countless freelancers and consultants.

    From my perspective, this rant portrays freelance designers as entitled, oversensitive, petulant, and ungrateful.

    If you think we (freelancers) are not commodities, look at the numbers: nearly 35% of US workers are freelance, and some say that could rise to 50% by 2020. Log into Upwork, Freelancer.com, or any other for-hire site: there are tens of thousands of us in every category, professionals and carpet-baggers alike. So we are a commodity -- which means we have to go above and beyond to justify our rates.

    In choosing the freelance life, I'm no longer just a designer: I'm a professional communicator, an educator, a mentor, a business partner, a part-time therapist, and, yes, sometimes I'm that therapist's "punching pillow." All of this, I'd argue, does make me an employee of the client, even if only temporarily.

    Remember that we are the ones being paid, so the onus is on us (not the client!) to make it work. If the client doesn't "get it," it's my job to overcommunicate, to meet them way more than halfway so they are as confident in and competent about the project as I am. I blame myself for every project that has ever gone awry -- either I could have done more to help the client, or I could have better anticipated what might go wrong (and in some cases, refuse the job to avoid it).

    For my side projects, I specifically hire UI designers and developers who are great communicators, hard-working, prideful of their quality, and grateful for my business. So I make damned sure I treat my client the same way when I'm on the for-hire side of the contract.

    And when the next great recession inevitably hits, I'll be looking around wondering where all the clients went, thinking about how I'll pay my mortgage this month, and reminiscing fondly about all these projects fate saw it fit to drop in my lap.

    4 points
  • Tom Mayes, over 2 years ago

    Dear Author, what a load of pompous, poorly-written drivel.

    3 points
  • Joe Crupi, over 2 years ago

    Apart from fellow creatives, who do you actually expect to read this? Is this really intended for clients? At what point in the client relationship did you plan on forwarding this link on to them?

    If I was a client or prospective client of yours and saw this, I'd be looking for a new agency quick smart.

    What a stupid pointless rant - you've wasted your time on this one.

    2 points
  • Nurit Bahat, over 2 years ago

    Really interesting take on how to communicate with clients your principles for how good, solid, creative work actually gets produced (no we aren't products!)

    2 points
  • Randall MorrisRandall Morris, over 2 years ago

    "Don't get it wrong - I am not your employee - and you are not my boss." Actually, you are - and they are.

    It's their money. It's their idea (granted a good designer augments and makes good ideas great). It's their product. IT'S THEIR RISK (see : Money)

    This comes off more like a jilted letter meant to make the writer feel better about some recent spate of wrong-doing - and possibly appeal to the base-feelings of others who have been 'wronged' by a client.

    Very rarely, do car-crashes come out of nowhere. You likely knew the kind of client he/she was before you took the job, but your optimism prevented you from preparing for the eventual/inevitable shit-storm that would come.

    This couldn't possibly be something the writer would send to a perspective client... Right?

    The follow up sentence : "Saying things like "others will be happy to do this work" won't make me want to work with you."

    ...And to that I say either :

    • Don't work with them. • If you need the money - and you don't have another way of making the money you need - do the work and be done with it.

    Imagine all the time it took to think of the content, design it, built it and promote it - then think what other more noble pursuits that effort could have been put toward.

    My unsolicited advice :

    • Let go of the ego • Understand that while design is capable of changing the world in small and large ways, sometimes you just gotta get shit done to make rent. • Sort out the work that pays the bills and the work that makes you feel good. We can't all be Peter Saville (and I'm sure its not all a bed of roses for him, too). • Design is like any other profession; if you don't understand it, you're going to make certain assumptions as to what it takes to do it right. This is where most clients end up making designers upset. Take this as an opportunity to gently educate them about your process - be nice, they ARE paying you. It might not work every time - but, hey, that's what the money is for.

    Good luck.

    1 point
  • Marcel van Werkhoven, over 2 years ago

    Great write-up and the design of the page is also striking (which helps with articles like these ;) ). However it might work better if the tone is a bit less serious. Also, I would try to present it in a more positive way. When I communicate stuff like this to clients I always focus on their benefit. Like just recently.

    "Hi X, thank you for sending me all those e-mails with small changes. However you'll be able to keep better track of them if you add them to the Trello board or send them to me in a document we can share on Google Drive. In fact, I've already made a document to share with you 'here' with all the changes you've requested so far. Once you've reviewed everything and added all the changes to the document let me know and I'll give you a call to discuss the list, set priorities and start making the changes. That saves you (and me) quite a bit of time :)"

    Most clients simply don't know how the design or development process works or how communicating differently benefits them. If you can show them how they'll be happier clients and future assignments will go smoothly.

    0 points
  • Dragan BabicDragan Babic, over 2 years ago

    I totally get where you are coming from with this — even though I don't necessarily feel the same way about certain things — and I do agree with some of the comments that it comes off like it was written from a defensive standpoint. Almost out of anger, even.

    We tried to communicate the same thing, check it out and maybe you can pick something up to incorporate into your page: https://sprawsm.com/terms-of-service/

    "Don't get it wrong - I am not your employee - and you are not my boss." Actually, you are - and they are.

    No they are not. What Lior is aiming at with this as far as I can tell, is that he wants to make it known that a client can't apply the same principles and expectations towards him, as he may do to their employees. E.g. if he requires his employees to check email outside business hours, he can't make Lior do the same, as he runs his own ship.

    All in all, I think it is good that you want to be up front with your potential clients, I would just rethink the tone and try not to sound bitter, like you've had it rough (even though you very well may have).

    0 points
  • Julian H, over 2 years ago

    Who's gonna read this? Only Designers, Freelancers etc. I guess.

    0 points
  • Nat BuckleyNat Buckley, over 2 years ago

    Relevant: Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro. Monteiro does an amazing job of communicating what’s expected from client relationships, and from you.

    I buy this book for everyone I know entering the field.

    0 points