Every service provider, regardless of their discipline, has at one point or another performed great service for a client only to have them call back a month later saying something broke. For us designers, we cringe as we close the email or set down the phone, and type in the client’s web address “brokenwebsite.com”, because 9 times out of 10, someone decided that they should play around with the HTML or CSS and broke the site or created a 403 error.
But as time wears on, and more experience is packed into your belt, is it your client’s fault for breaking something you’ve built, or yours for not properly planning for the inevitable? If I know that my client is going to keep trying to mess with the HTML of the webpage that I’ve delivered, shouldn’t I give them a CMS solution that will avert their desire to muck around, allowing them to make all necessary changes in a way that can’t completely destroy the site? When I see images being formatted incorrectly, repeatedly, shouldn’t I make a tutorial showing the client how to set up batch actions in Photoshop to help them prepare correctly?
Perhaps sometimes it’s our improper planning that is to blame, not the knuckleheadedness (lovely, Webster’s, please take note) of our beloved clients. Of course, clients are still going to break stuff (just ask the plumber who comes back to your apartment over and over telling you to make sure that you clean your drains regularly to avoid clogs…do you ever listen?). But as service providers, we have to go the extra mile because we want our work to show beautifully and for our clients to be happy. Happy clients are always talking up to their friends, family, and colleagues.
Besides, don’t we get paid to make the best possible product? How would my employers feel if I was cutting corners and not always setting our company up to succeed? I think too often we get myopic on our approach to projects, focusing on the design, the beauty, the aesthetics; at times forsaking the most quintessential piece of everything we do: creating happy and satisfied customers.
“…creating happy and satisfied customers” – it doesn’t sound too complicated, right? As designers, we love taking on new challenges from our clients – coming back with solutions that will wow them. But, when it comes to non-sexy bits e.g. the mundane maintenance issues, we are disinterested because it seems below us. I agree with you, Greg. We should focus more of our efforts on procedures and processes that ensure that the final product is easy to use, easy to understand and adds value to our customers.