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Web Design Gravesend, Kent [UK]. Professional bespoke Web Design for the Small business. Contact Leigh today for a FREE quote.

10-point Guide to building a strong client/designer relationship

During my many years of working in the Web design industry, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with many weird and wonderful characters who have become clients – many are still clients and some even have become good friends.

In order to help create and maintain a strong and healthy working relationship, there are a few points that I like my customers to be aware of before we enter into a business contract together. Why? Because sometimes I find that some people who approach me to do design work, have misconceptions about what I am and what I can do for them. These misconceptions have the tendency to bring about the wrong expectations regarding what they are actually paying me for and what they are going to be left with at the end of a project.

The following points are direct because I find that plain speaking helps to build a stronger client/designer relationship:

1. I do not provide technical support

I am a Web designer and therefore not trained in all things technological. If I build you a system for a specific purpose, I will allocate a set amount of time to show you how to use it. I can not tell you why your Web hosting server is down or teach you how to set up and configure your email account. Sorry, no. If you decide that you want to make changes to your Website yourself to save a bit of cash, I will not be in a position whereby I can walk you through how to do this.

2. I can only operate as fast as you allow me

Many times I have had clients tell me that their project or their Website Updates need to be done ‘Yesterday’. That’s fine. I understand that in this highly competitive world, you are eager to keep up-to-date with all matters business, in order to stay that one step ahead of the competiton.

One of my main aims is to complete a job on time -- or even earlier if possible. If work has to stop while I am waiting for you to get back to me with either content or instructions, I will help you if need be; but, I will not repeatedly chase after you.

Lastly, I am not unwilling to working out of office hours, but ONLY if there is no alternative. If you want work carried out promptly, you need to provide me with instructions and the means to do the work -- promptly!

3. I can provide a copywriting service, but you need to pay for it

Because I strive to keep my prices low, some take this as an indication that I will do additional work for no extra cost to them. Some clients that want to make use of my basic Web design service have expected me to write their Website copy (content) as well -- for free. Sorry, no. Website content writing is a time consuming undertaking that normally requires a lot of research. It is not something that can be ‘knocked up’ in five or ten minutes. I do offer a copywriting service, but you do need to provide me with well-defined instructions as to what you want to achieve with the content; for example, the message you want to convey or the specifications of a product you want to display. I do not know your business, your products and what text you want –- you do!

4. I build simple Websites for a reason

With my simple approach to Website design; your Website will not contain any ‘flashy’ and unnecessary rich media elements (including music, Flash intros, animations or pictorial backgrounds). These things which are commonly known as 'Rich Media' elements were popular up until the nineties and before we started realising that they don’t enhance a Website but can actually hinder the user from doing what they came to your site to do. That is not to say that they do not have a place in Web design; however, they must be used very carefully. A designer, who knows their ‘stuff’, will not recommend that you use these rich media elements on your Website (unless they are absolutely necessary). If you insist that you want or need them, I will gladly oblige you and implement them in your Website.

5. I know Web design

My designs are based on a) the information you give me that conveys your needs and wants and b) what I think will help your site to be a success. Every effort is made to produce a Website look that matches your tastes; however it may not perfectly match the image that you have in your head. Be open to new ideas and keep in mind, just because you don’t like the look of something, it doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you. You hired me to do your Website because I am in the industry and know what works and what doesn’t. So please, have faith in my designs and trust my advice. I may not know everything about web design but I would hazard a guess that I know more than you; otherwise you wouldn’t have hired me in the first place.

6. I build Websites, not business plans

An effective Website is built to strengthen a business plan -- not used to create one. In order to acquire a cost-effective and purposeful Website, you must first establish how you are going to do business and who you are going to do business with. I can and will offer you consultation on Website design matters, but can not provide you assistance on how you execute your business. My designs are created to help you achieve your business objectives so when you approach me about Web design, please have an idea about what features you would like to include in your site, define your target market and ascertain your business goals. There are resources on my site that can help you realise these.

7. I am not a charity

For many new start ups, one of the very first things on the ‘To Do’ list is a company Website. However, getting one can set you back anything from £1000 to £5000. Some have even paid up to £10,000. As a small business owner myself, I know what it is like to operate on a very tight budget. For this reason, I wanted to support existing and new small business by providing a low-cost Web design service. I do this by keeping my overheads at a minimum.

My low fees however, seem to attract people who regard my low prices as a sign that I will cater for all their needs for next to nothing. What most people don’t understand is that creating and producing even a small well-designed Website takes time and expertise. Some who have dabbled in Web design themselves state that it only took them a couple hours to produce a Website using Front Page, so they wonder why I charge what I do. Please, please, please do not try and barter with my fees. If you think that you can produce a an effective Website quicker and cheaper than me – then please do so. Because if I charged even less than my current low prices, Clean-Cut Web Design [Kent] would be no more!

8. I require all instructions to me to be in writing

To prevent any misunderstanding or the need to say, “I didn’t say that” or “I didn’t want that”, I do stipulate that all instructions given to me are in written form. This can easily be achieved via email. Accordingly, I will do the same when communicating directions to you. Please ensure that your directives are correct, comprehendible and complete.

9. I need to carry out a thorough project scoping

I can not stress enough the importance of the initial project scoping stage of Website design. Without defining the scope of the project, I can not estimate either cost or time, or establish your requirements -- accurately. I will not be able to ascertain what is to be achieved with the budget that you have allocated. Invariably, lack of proper communication at this early stage leads to problems later on, which will have the effect of disrupting the flow of production and will probably unnecessary generate extra costs. I need for you to be as patient and communicative as possible during this stage. I use the information I collect from you during project scoping to formulate a project proposal. The project proposal is a contract, a legal document that protects both designer and client. It informs you of what you are paying me for and what you will get at project completion.

10. I too need money to live

When you receive my invoice, please pay what you owe me within the specified 30 days. I have done work for you in the agreed timeframe so please reciprocate by paying me on time.