I know that almost no one reading this post is planning to serve their clients poorly. Poor service creeps up on us as we build a few bad decisions on top of each other.
Want to know what many of those descisions are?
Make it about you
The big daddy to all the points below is making the project about you. The project should never be about you it should always be about what’s best for your client.
Each and every decision you make should be made while thinking:
Will this further my client’s business? Will this accomplish their goals?
If you lose site of that and start looking at what is most expedient for you – get ready for unhappy clients.
Yes you need to take projects that are furthering your business. Take things that push you and that you enjoy. Remember that the project is for the client though not for you.
Sell your pet solution
WordPress is my bread and butter so most problems are a WordPress hole for me, but not all. Just because I can do WordPress work doesn’t mean that I should be always selling clients on using WordPress.
Maybe for them a Ruby on Rails backed web application is the best fit since they already have a Ruby app thus have some techinical knowledge about it.
Maybe they are only selling digital goods so Easy Digital Downloads is the best option even though I prefer WooCommerce (or WP eCommerce or Shopp…).
Just selling a solution that you have is a way to make sure that the work is bad. You’re going to spend the whole time justifying the decision again and again since it wasn’t right in the first place.
No one is going to come out of that happy.
Focus on your pet interest
I know you want to use that new technique you’ve been dying to try but stop and think first. Is it actually a good fit for the project or is it just interesting to you?
Yes there is a certain amount of experimentation as you try new processes and techniques and that’s fine. Just make sure that you’re not using them simply because it’s the latest thing you are interested in.
If you use that new coding or design techinque just because you want to, you’re not putting the clients needs first which is a recipe for bad work.
Don’t communicate clearly
I know I’ve said it before but communication is vital to a proper project. Is your client getting at least 2 emails a week with updates on the project? If not then it’s highly likely you aren’t keeping them in the loop enough.
If you aren’t keeping them in the loop then you’re going to get almost done the project and find out that something hasn’t been understood right. So that mountain of beginning code that you are relying on needs to be rewritten.
Sure you can blame the client but that’s just a way to push your fault in the matter on someone else.
If you aren’t sending regular updates it’s your fault. So suck it up and communicate clearing next time. Early regular feedback is a key to producing great client work.
Let the client shortcut your process
Do you have a way you build a theme or design a site or build a plugin? Don’t let your client shortcircuit that process or you’re going to regret it. You set that process up because it worked for you. Maybe you had issues on the last project and the new process is in place to stop the issues from happening again. Why on earth would you pull away from it?
The sad thing is that until you’ve been freelancing for a while it’s so easy to let that client pressure you in to the process shortcut. I know that I’ve had a client want to get a cheaper site so we didn’t bother with the ‘blog’ portion of the CSS to save time.
Of course 3 months later their boss was pretty unhappy with me that they needed to pay extra for the blog to look right. Sure I could show the emails we sent explaining what no blog CSS entailed but it still wouldn’t have mattered. I still had an unhappy client though.
Now it’s part of my process and I’m sticking to it.
What about you, do you have any items that have made a bad project that I missed?