Have you ever experienced a project spiral out of your control? It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion. All you can do is sit and take it.
That’s how design by committee usually ends. It turns into a big mess for everyone involved. You’re actually doing your client a favor if you maintain control of the project by setting rules and strictly following it.
That’s what we are going to discuss in today’s episode of Hassle-Free Websites.
In the video:
- 00:44 – What design by committee is
01:16 – The disadvantages of design by committee
01:51 – Why you need rules
03:36 – Rules on communication
04:13 – Payment terms
04:37 – Rules on tools and software
05:47 – Content submission
06:18 – Progress previews
Why Design By Committee Sucks
It happens sometimes. You find yourself in a situation where you’re dealing with a client who might not be the final decision-maker for the website. Or even if he is, he has one or several business partners who help him make decisions.
It’s also common for a client to bring in advice from someone else—his mother, wife, husband, brother, friend.
This is design by committee and you want to avoid it as much as possible.
That’s because all these extra people feel they need to add input for the website just because your client is involving them. Yet, these people do not have all the context and background information to give educated advice.
When this happens, trouble begins: it increases the number of revisions needed to make the project, it delays the decision-making and the project moves away from what was originally planned.Too many chefs spoil the broth. Click To Tweet
How To Avoid Design By Committee And Keep The Project Running Smoothly
To keep the project from falling apart, avoid design by committee at all cost. Instead, deal with only one person—and that person should be the final decision-maker for the website. Make this clear to your client from the very beginning either through your initial proposal, the brief, an FAQ section on your website or in conversations you have with the client.
1. Set general rules.
It’s important to set rules which you and your clients should follow throughout the project. It can be tempting to bend your rules to get a client go over the line. But you’ll find being strict in following these rules are beneficial not just for you, but also for your client.
Rules allow you to do your best work. It gives you the freedom to do things in a way that’s comfortable for you. It fuels creativity and helps deliver the best results for the client.
If you find a client actively trying to get around your rules, then it’s time to reevaluate if you are really willing to have them as a client.
Setting rules can be hard if you are just starting out because then you won’t know what sort of rules to set in the first place. Most of the time, these rules come from trial and error. You do things the wrong way and then you learn what rules to put in place so you don’t find yourself in the same situation.Have strict rules. For your client’s sake. Click To Tweet
2. Lay parameters around communication.
You might want to consider setting up rules and boundaries on your communication with your client. For example, you might want to tell clients you won’t be available on weekends, but can only be called on business days and only during business hours.
Also inform your clients how to best communicate with you, how you want instructions to be relayed and how feedback should be provided.
What we do in our company is communicate via email for projects. This allows us to keep all correspondence in one thread. Instructions relayed over the phone can’t be kept as a reference so we don’t allow clients to do it over the phone.
3. Think about your payment terms.
Another rule to consider is your payment terms.
If they have the budget for the project, then there are very few reasons why a client can’t pay you in advance. However, it also makes sense to go 50-50. Do what works for you. Just make sure the client understands when payments need to be made and how they should be made.
4. Consider your tools and software.
You should also regulate the tools and software you use. For instance, we have rules in selecting plugins and there are some plugins we don’t use at all.
We don’t buy marketplace themes and customize them. We always work with proven theme frameworks. We also don’t work with other platforms except WordPress. This is because we believe it’s important to be an expert in one area instead of spreading yourself thin over several platforms.
It’s also important to leave complete control of the asset to the client. So when it comes to domains, what we do is guide the client through the process of purchasing instead of us purchasing it in their behalf.
For software licenses, unless we have a developer license, we make sure it is purchased in the client’s name. This way, the client is directly notified for any renewals or ongoing billing and will avoid complications later down the track.
5. Content submission
Content affects both the design and development of the website. Without it, the completion of the project can get pushed back. Ideally, it is best if you can have the content upfront.
But sometimes, getting content from clients is like pulling teeth. It can be really hard to do. To help you with this, check out this app. It will make content collection a lot of easier for you.
6. Content submission
Your client might want to know where you’re at with the development. They will ask to see the progress of the website. Most clients don’t quite understand the development process so what often happens is they end up adding more feedback and make little changes here and there. These “minor” changes can balloon up and make the project hard to manage.
To avoid this, don’t show the client anything until it’s pretty much ready to go live and has gone through QA and bug testing.
You can use this initial list if you don’t know how to begin setting your own set of rules. There are certainly other variations and additional rules you can add to this list. Whatever they are, what’s important is for you to let your clients know what they are right from the start.Make Your Rules Clear Upfront. Click To Tweet