3 Little Words That Make Every Web Designer Cringe

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I’ve been working with web designers and developers for about 8 years now. In all of those years, there’s probably one thing that irritates them above anything else. Just three little innocent words. Every seasoned designer has heard them. But let me set the stage for how those words normally come to be.

It goes like this:

  1. The designer drops his heart and soul into a website.
  2. He’s so excited to send off the beta link that he’s doing cart wheels in the halls.
  3. He sends the beta link for the client to review.
  4. He waits…and waits…and waits with anticipation.
  5. He finally receives an email back from the client.
  6. The client explains that it looks “good” but “do you think you could ‘MAKE IT POP’ a little more?”

At this point, the designer contemplates a career change. The smile fades from his face. The map-less journey for buried treasure begins.  The client has just dragged their long fingernails on a chalkboard right next to the designer’s ears… and mass confusion/hysteria sets in.

“Make it pop?” Says the designer. “Make it pop?” “What do you mean… ‘Make it pop?’”

So the designer sends a courteous email back to the client asking for a little clarification on how they would suggest “making it pop.”

The email comes back from the client:

Dear [designer]

Yeah… so my sisters son Jimmy really has an eye for these sorts of things. He’s taking a web design class at his junior high school and my sister says he’s the best in the class. He’s learning ‘HTLM’. I sent the design over to him and he said it needed to “pop” a little more. He also wanted to remind you that the site should be ‘responsible’ or something like that. I really value his input because he’s a really bright kid and I’d like to have him get involved in this project.

Thanks for all your work! Looking forward to what you come up with.

Signed, [Client]

Alright…so now the designer is analyzing the email. Face is red, palms are sweaty. He’s already reached for the bottle of Xanax he keeps in his drawer for days like this. He was able to determine that the client’s nephew is learning ‘HTML’, the site should be ‘responsive’ and that the site should ‘pop’ a little more. Worst of all… the client has a whole cadre of people with “an eye for design” that he’s going to have to navigate through on his way to publishing the site.

It gets worse. The designer realizes that this particular client is one of the lowest paying clients at the firm. Go figure. That pesky Pareto principle is hard at work again… never failing to ruin “the flow” of a day.

Now what? Well… at this point, the client has just drained all of the designers creative juices out of him. There is no longer a creative bone in his body. It’s time to turn into a robot.

Dear [Client]

Can you send me ONE website that you would like the site to look like. Send me the one that you think has the most “POP” and I’ll be sure to “make it pop” for you. Tell little Jimmy “hi” for me!

Blessings,

Signed, [Designer]

After 20 some odd revisions of the practically copied Weebly template that little Jimmy sent over, the designer is finally ready to publish the site for the client. The client is “ok” with publishing the site but “has some concerns” because “I can’t put my finger on it… but something is just a little off.” The client says that he’ll call everyday for the next couple weeks to “bounce some ideas” off of the designer and that if he keeps doing a good job (he means making all these changes and talking on the phone all day for free), that he’s got “so many friends that he can refer” to the designer.

At this point…everything the designer is doing is not for the money. He’s already taken a significant loss on that client. No… now it’s all about keeping the client from leaving the dreaded bad review on Yelp so that his livelihood is not in jeopardy because he offended “little Jimmy,” and the rest of the client’s nieces, nephews, and second cousins.

Oh… the blessing and cursing of being a designer in a world where “everyone is a designer.”

But seriously. Cut those designers a break and let them work their creative magic. If you give them their space, they’ll most likely over perform for you. Give them specific feedback, be patient, and treat them like the professionals that they are and your ultimate internet presence will rock.

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