Always be nice

… even when you don’t want to.

I decided to write about a new client I had this year. I came across an article titled “It’s Nice to Be Important, But It’s More Important to Be Nice” when I did some research for this blog posting.

The thing is, I thought about the different approaches I took when I speak to people. Surely on my blog, I post about random accomplishments that I have, I even speak about it at times to say what’s happening in my life. However, sometimes I’m never really comfortable doing so. I’d rather share knowledge, and expose other artists, designers, programmers etc.

I don’t want to feel that I’m better than others. I never do. I truly love that I do random things that many won’t find the time to do. I used to feel guilty about my accomplishments (now I don’t). The thing is, if you work hard you always hope that people will be happy for you — sadly that’s not always the case.

If you work with people, always make them feel important. When people realize you treat them well and value them, they tend to reciprocate. This helps especially when you start a company or do freelance work.

I think it’s important to be nice even if your clients are horrible. Always end emails respectfully even if you have to stand ground on your position. In case you’re wondering why I posted this, well a past client Yvette Rose, from Joulebody.com called me a “bitch” after working on her site for 3 months for very little pay. I had a real client from hell finally. I should have known she would be.

The first time I met her, because I mentioned that I was from Dominica originally, she asked me: “Do I pay you cash or check? Can you work in this country?” *mmmm*

I was nice (bad for designers to be, sometimes we need to learn how to say no). I thought against posting about it but this blog is about my life, she told me that she knows people in the industry and will be telling them that I did a horrible job of designing her site… OK here’s the before and after (click to enlarge) of how horribly I did her site.

This is before, it’s not horrible but it’s not good code it was done by her son.This were all the design templates for after:

I decided to try blue for these because Yoga is supposed to be soothing and calm.

The comment was: I don’t like blue (however blue was in the palette).

I decided to try others:

She wanted to use Purple and Orange… ok I didn’t think the purple would work but I did my best and it worked:

I think a lot of designers find themselves in the same position. Her son, who is 10 years old, does a little code so she automatically thought that designing and coding is the easiest thing to do.

Now, I’ve taught younger tech kids designing and coding and I love when they are sponges and willing to learn, because it reminds me of myself when I was that age. However, when a client doesn’t know anything about design or coding and their children are learning– they automatically assume genius (which is ok, my parents assumed that I was also).  Now I understand why older designers and coders were infuriated when I charged less money when I was younger. I will have to admit, it’s not as easy as it seems.

The things that went wrong:

She decided to try using a site called infusion soft midway through the project and changed her mind about every content that was agreed upon. So, there I was working late at night thinking I’m done, then next day … another change.

Anyway, I don’t think after a client calls you a bitch and threatens your industry rep that you should stay on the account. Let’s just say I kept all the emails and voice calls (Thank you Google Voice).

Now, there’s an incomplete site and I’ve never been least proud of any work that I’ve ever done. It has flash, jQuery, CSS and I designed it and can’t even use it as a recommendation. Well, if you ever had to work for that client, definitely run for the hills! Tell me your own horror stories.

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My name is Jerlyn Thomas. I own this blog and you can read more about me here. The views expressed on this site are by me and do not reflect those of my employer or my clients. The content here belongs to me and my guest contributors. Views and opinions expressed by all contributors belong to them and not me, the blog owner. All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only. I make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. If you want to use content on your own site, you must ask permission first before you do so under these restrictions.

6 thoughts on “Always be nice

  1. JDub

    I totally understand where you are coming from. I have had similar horror stories. I have worked in the corporate environment doing a mixture of desgin & CMS work for the past 5 years. I would constantly have people with the same type of attitudes, thinking that the work we do is simply “magic”. Not realizing the creative, implementation & testing process on the back end of things.

    As long as you were going against the agreed upon contract, then you are NOT in the wrong. The minute there are changes (depending on how big the change), the client should expect that there will be an added charge. This is only because they are changing the scope of the project. So she should be happy you didn’t hit her with that increased invoice.

    Even though you say the site is now unfinished, I think it’s 100 times better than what she previously had. My initial opinion is that the site was made from a template of some sort. Sure… anybody can install a template, but if you don’t know how to modify & enhance that template, then what good is it? I say that only because she thought her son was a genius…….. yea, not so much.

    Either way, you were the better person in the end & that’s all that matters. If she truly knew so many people in the industry, why didn’t she go with them? Lol…just sayin.

    Reply

  2. Jerlyn

    Yes exactly, she made it seem like it was easy to change an entire CMS.

    In the end, I just provided what was outlined in the agreed contract. However, I should have given her the real invoice.

    I hate the site and I’m usually proud of my work. *smh*

    lol I agree about the folks in my industry, however I got to research about lots of hers in her industry.

    Reply

  3. Joymarie

    Make sure that you are protecting yourself! There’s a tough middle ground between satisfying the client and staying true to your own design standards and what you are willing to put your name behind.. Google Voice was smart but make sure you are also having these freelance clients sign written contracts, perhaps have a lawyer advise you.. Jason gave a speech on this last year and I thought it was pretty solid advice because these things definitely do happen.

    Reply

  4. Vita

    Just stumbled upon this post and wanted to say “hi and thank you for making my day better”
    I’m just through the similar experience: been working on a site for the yoga instructor for the past 6 month, going back in forth with changes, making it live finally…not hearing a word back and finding out today that she made her own design (in word document with clipart) and made a switch.
    BTW, your original designs look professional and elegant. I feel your pain with current site!
    What’s up with those yoga people?

    Reply

  5. Jerlyn

    Thanks so much!

    You’d think Yoga people would be so much calmer.

    Reply

  6. Jerlyn

    Thanks so much!

    You’d think Yoga people would be so much more calm.

    Reply

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