Managing your new web design client’s expectations starts from the very moment they land on your website. It continues on with the initial phone call. From there it should be carried over into sales meetings, and then of course passed on to your account managers. Everyone on your team must be on the same page; otherwise, over-promising and under-delivering will be the downfall of your company.
However, in my 10+ years running a very successful web design business in Chicago, one particular thing really stood out to me as the most important thing my team needed to understand and say to the client. In fact, it was something we said multiple times to our clients as a friendly reminder. Otherwise, managing our web design client’s expectations would be impossible.
Leonardo da Vinci once said, “Art is never finished”. Nothing could be more true. Art will never be finished. It will last forever. That’s what make it so inspiring and so great. But, if art really is never finished, then a web design business could stand to be in serious trouble if the business doesn’t set clear expectations for the web design project. Therefore, in my opinion, the most important thing an agency must remind clients of is that “Web design is never finished.”
Those five important words will change our change agency. Here’s why:
1. Constant Revisions
Requests for constant revisions from your client are not their fault. It’s your fault. Take responsibility so you have the power to change and fix the problem. Because web design is never finished, requests for revisions can go on forever.
Six ways to control the amount of revision requests from your clients:
- Remind clients that “web design is never finished”.
- Add a clause in your contract for the number of revisions (I recommend 2-3 rounds).
- Only do revisions in rounds. Don’t accept one revision at a time.
- Charge for extra rounds of revisions.
- Change the deadline for extra rounds of revisions.
- Launch the site before accepting any extra rounds of revisions because “web design is never finished”.
2. Back-burner Projects
Nothing is worse than a project that has been put on the back-burner. You’re frustrated at the seemingly endless work and even worse your client goes radio silent. Again, don’t blame your client. They have no idea how to manage a web design project. That’s your job. Web design projects that never end slowly eat away at your soul. You lose sleep over them, and your anxiety builds and builds over time.
How to take projects off the back-burner:
- Remind clients that “web design is never finished”.
- Schedule a new kickoff meeting to get the momentum high again.
- Add a clause to your contract that charges a fee for radio silent clients after 3 days.
- Hold a mandatory weekly call.
3. Opportunity Cost
What else could you be working on right now, instead of this web design project that will never end. How much money are you losing out on from other projects you could be focused on? That’s opportunity cost. It grows each day your web design project lingers on. A client that is never happy with the design of their website will never want to “finish” the project. You must be careful of this. So, manage their expectations early on by reminding them that web design is never truly finished. Get them focused on launching the site and remind them you can make changes after launch.
4. Low Morale
I’ve seen this before. Project managers and web designs who roll their eyes at the very thought of having to work on a project that never ends because the client is never happy. They want tweaks. They make countless revisions and occasionally they get frustrated and go radio silent. Don’t let low morale infect your agency. Remind your clients that they will be working on this site forever, so it’s important to get the site launched so they can start tweaking as they A/B test their changes. After all, web design isn’t a turnkey solution. Every site must A/B test constantly to find the right formula that works for them.
My favorite web design testing sites:
- Optimizely (A/B testing software)
- CrazyEgg (Heat mapping)
- Conversion XL (My favorite conversion blog)
- Qualaroo (Qualitative analytics)
5. Scope Creep
Scope creep is one of the most dangerous things in web design. “Scope” is the outline of work at the beginning of a project, and “creep” is all the extra work that manages to creep into the scope throughout the course of a project. Not only is scope creep is big momentum killer to your team, but it’s a huge frustration among agency owners because the loss of money is not measurable.
How to avoid scope creep:
- When your clients ask for “5 minutes” of extra work, remind them that this website will truly never be finished, so you can save extra changes for after launch.
- Use a checklist every step of the way throughout the course of your project. Never deviate from that list.
- Have you clients sign off on the scope of work and checklist before work begins, and after you’ve signed a contract.
- Remind your project managers and designers that they are not authorized to give anything away to the clients for free. If it’s not on the client approved scope of work, then it’s extra. End of story. Hey, I wish we could give things way for free. I really do. But 5 minutes can easily turn into five hours, and five hours can easily turn into five days.
We love web design, that’s why we do it. But to truly love something you have to appreciate it. Web design is never finished. Having that understanding will make your web design agency a better business because your team will be happier and your clients will be happier. My suggestion is to have a quick meeting with your entire team and share this important expectation so they can share it with their clients and future clients. Thanks for reading and good luck.