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How to successfully manage your web design client

Web design client

To say that we’ve been busy over here at 45royale would be an understatement.

Between client demands, late night coding sessions, and managing a constant cycle of new business, we’ve found that in order to be successful, it’s important to maintain a high level of productivity. The key to staying on top of things lies in organization and our ability to set and keep project deadlines. Oh, and we can’t forget about the copious amounts of caffeine.

That being said, my role as Product Manager ultimately plays a large part in a project’s overall success or failure. I’ve gathered my thoughts and have decided to dive head first into a five part series entitled “A Project Managers Guide to Extraordinary Projects”. In this series I will share my experiences and tips I’ve learned along the way about dealing with clients, contracts, scheduling, time tracking, and what to do if you encounter “unexpected complications”.

While some of topics covered in this series will be a simple refresher for day to day project/product managers, it should serve as a nice introduction to those that are just starting out or struggling with how to manage their projects effectively. So without further ado, let’s get started.

Part 1: First Encounter of the Client Kind

At 45royale, my job as Project Manager is to actively manage all of the existing and future web design projects that we are a part of. In order for our business to grow, it is imperative that the entire team is in a position that fosters success.

One of the best ways to achieve this is by being the first point of contact for all new clients. Just think of me as the bouncer at Club 45royale (nobody gets in unless I say so or you slide me a $20 spot). I do my best to find clients and projects that not only better us as a web design firm, but also inspire our team to do its best work.

Sure, I might be fortunate enough to find us a fun and/or cutting edge project; but if the client is argumentative and unreasonable, it’s likely that negative attitude will frustrate the team and adversely impact their ability to maximize creativity and hit their deadlines. Well if that’s the case, how do you decide which clients are right for you and your team?

What to look for in a new web design client

Deciding if a client is a match for your company is not always an easy task. Many companies take anyone and everyone that comes their way. I can understand that, we all have bills to pay. However, if you want to ensure a successful and pleasant work experience for everyone involved, you might have to take a more judicious approach.

Potential clients come to us in a number of ways; through our Project Planner, a direct email, a call to the office line, or (our favorite and most fulfilling) referrals from colleagues or previous clients.

No matter how the client lands on our doorstep, it’s important to keep a top-level view of the situation and not be drawn in too quickly.

Since it’s still early in the process, most of these red flags are certainly not deal breakers. However, they might serve as your first clues in determining if this relationship will work out once the project begins. Let’s take a look at some things you’ll want to consider when starting a new project and taking on a new client.

Initial Contact

As the old saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is especially true when it comes to initial client mingling. Is the potential client rude? Are they making unreasonable demands or setting unrealistic deadlines? Are they asking for deliverables before a contract is signed or first payment has been agreed upon and/or received?

All of these shortcomings should be reason enough to pack your bags and head quickly towards the door. I know, it may seem hard to do—especially since this is only the beginning of the project and you’re anxious to get things started (or to cash that first check). But believe me, you will be doing yourself a favor by making a quick exit now before things start spinning out of control and the proverbial “shit” hits the fan.

Written by @adam_little

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