Don't Throw Your Client to the Dogs

Don't throw your client to the dogs

Is it money, love or laughter that makes the world go around? Probably a little of all three. All are certainly involved in the development of a successful graphic design business. But I've noticed over the past few years that laughter seems to be edging ahead of the game - and not necessarily in a good way.

We all like a good laugh - especially with people who are on the same wavelength as us. This explains the success of client-battering websites like Don't get me wrong - I relish these tales of jaw-dropping ignorance - here's a good one:

"It’s too expensive for me. Can you lend me your equipment so my cousin can shoot the catalogue? He once took a summer course on photography."

Obviously we wouldn't want to work with anyone that holds any creative profession in such low esteem - and clearly they wouldn't want to work with us.


Explain the jargon

For every instance of bull-headed insensitivity, there'll be one of simple jargon-related ignorance. For example:

[Client sent me some complex logos (as JPEGs) in order to vectorize them.]
Client: “What exactly is taking so long? If I knew it would take so long, I’d have done it myself.”
Me: “Vectorizing the logos takes some time because—”
Client: “Time? Renaming files from *.jpg to *.eps takes time?!”

This, whilst forehead-slappingly idiotic to a graphic designer, would be meaningless to anyone who didn't understand the fundamental difference between a raster image such as a JPG and a vector graphic such as an EPS. The client in the above example clearly thinks that the only difference between a JPG and an EPS is the file name. And why wouldn't they? If I wasn't in the graphic design game, I wouldn't be the least bit interested in what an encapsulated postscript graphic was - any more that I know the difference between a function and a procedure in programming. (I just Googled that last comparison - I really don't know the difference and I'm not interested. For those that are:

If the above designer had taken as much time to explain why creating vector graphics is more time-consuming than typing the letters "EPS", as it took them to submit this story to Clients from Hell, then there'd be one more vector-savvy client out there and one less person to ridicule.

Graphic Designers in Glass Houses

Going back to the programming analogy - now there's a discipline that designers cross swords with when designing and building websites. I might be wrong (it wouldn't be the first time), but I doubt that there are many graphic designers out there who haven't at one time or another dabbled in a little website design. And the first time they hit a coding brick wall, where did they turn? Why, to coding forums of course:

The above example contains a couple of pretty restrained responses. MrPhil points out that "Hopefully you can do enough of the job with just editing the .css files, because it sounds like you know nothing about programming" - but this is as scathing as it gets.

In the past (I don't dare do it any more) I've posted what I considered to be perfectly reasonable questions about coding problems - and received replies ranging from short-tempered to vitriolic to "get the f••• out of this forum, you newby f•••". And all because I was ignorant of a specific aspect of coding.

Now reverse the situation.

If someone posting in a graphic design forum wanted to know the difference between a vector and a raster image, would you take the time and effort to explain it to them? Or would you flame them from here to Hades? Just something to chew over... meanwhile, just send them this link.

Don't bite the hand that feeds

Of course, the elephant in the room is the fact that our oft-frustrating clients are the ones that pay the bills - so the next time you have an excellent story about them for clientsfromhell, pause for a moment's thought before throwing them to the dogs. And then send me the link so I can have a good laugh.

For those of you that remain unconvinced, here are a couple of the most popular client-battering videos:

Graphic Designer vs Client

Make My Logo Bigger Cream