About two years ago, I did some writing for a company who was getting a new website made.
I had the copy written, and laid it out nicely in MS Word for the designer. The site was going to be good, and I envisioned my customer doing quite well with it.
Then I saw the finished product. For lack of a better word, it sucked.
The designer took my copy and in many places, stretched it to about 200 characters per line. Instead of reading punchy, it read… weird.
I talked to the designer – here’s the conversation:
Me: This reads terrible. The lines are so long. What happened?
Him: That’s the default in the template they picked.
Me: But it reads terrible, and you know that. There are plenty of ways to shorten the width so it reads better. Or tell them to pick another template.
Him: Hey, I gave them what they asked for. Not my problem anymore.
Me: What is wrong with you? You’re supposed to be a professional. Act like one.
And that was the end of the conversation. He hung up. I never claimed tact was my strong suit.
But wow, this really bugged me. And it’s SUPER common.
The end of the story is I told my client how bad the site actually looked. They didn’t “see it” at first. They only saw a new website and were happy it was finally live. But I persisted, because I knew it was bad.
I eventually got them to understand by showing them how much easier it was to read shorter length lines. They got it, and hired another designer to fix it (which took all of a few hours).
I’m happy I was able to do that for my client, but I wish it wasn’t necessary.
It’s my opinion that you are hiring professionals for TWO things: their skill, and their knowledge. Why so many do not give you their knowledge is beyond me. I mean, maybe they don’t have the knowledge. That’s always possible, especially at the lower end of any industry.
But maybe it’s a confidence thing.
The unconfident contractor is going to give you exactly what you asked for. They will let you drive the bus, and they will give you the work you want, even if they personally think it’s terrible.
Their attitude is “I want to get paid, so I’m not rocking the boat”. They will agree that your idea or web template or whatever else is on the table is great (even if it isn’t), and they will get to work producing crap.
I think that’s lousy.
When you hire a professional, the first thing you should get is their expertise on your planned project. And if your idea, planned design, product name, web template, or whatever else isn’t cutting it, the pro you hired should tell you that.
That’s how I look at it anyway. I’d rather walk away than do work I know is bad.
Mind you – I don’t only protect clients from bad contractors and bad work. Sometimes I protect them from themselves.
Over the years, I been part of many “teams”. I’m the writer, there’s a designer, maybe another marketing person, etc. And I’ve been around a lot of company presidents who are excited over a new idea, but have the wrong angle in his or her head.
This isn’t that uncommon, especially for companies who have experienced some success and growth. The owner/president (justifiably) has a lot of confidence in their idea – after all, they built the business. But as the company (and audience/reach) grow, sometimes those ideas can miss the mark, or need tightening up.
Know how many people actually push back and disagree with these company presidents? Almost zero. I will (nicely, of course), but I’m almost always alone.
Sadly, this is pretty normal. Going along to get along (and get paid) happens all the time. Negative feedback on a client’s idea, if given at all, is given lightly, and then usually dropped.
It’s a practice I’m not crazy about. Sometimes a little pushback is good. I’ve always done it, because I owe clients that.