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Thread: Client issues

  1. #1
    Senior Member Eddy Bones's Avatar
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    I took on a "job" (meaning I volunteered) at my church to redesign their web site and make a few changes and additions to their administrative back end (http://www.webdesignforums.net/showthread.php?t=25968). We began in the beginning of November 2006.

    At that time they were just planning their ideas for the redesign. Shortly after, their designer moved to Texas and I became the new lead (being the only person there who knows anything about designing for the web).

    Since that time we have had four designs. The first was made by their original designer, the rest were mine. After four designs they have not chosen one that they like, and they are still nit-picking. Aside from screwing with new designs, one of which I even have completely coded, I've been upkeeping the current site.

    Anyhow, I can tell that a lot of my problem has come from working with a middleman. I talked with the Pastor and his expectations are nowhere near those of the middleman. This is causing problems because I get executive orders from the Pastor, but the other guy expects me to follow his own plan. Another problem was that they never gave me viable input on my designs. When I suggested different directions that we might go, they never took my advice. I'm not sure they even considered it.

    At this point I'm about ready to throw in the towel. Since they're not paying me, I don't see how they have a right to be so picky regarding what they get. I'm also at the point that I won't maintain their site or upgrade their back end because it's a bother to me. I have other projects lined up that would be more productive and the clients would most assuredly be more agreeable.

    So, knowing this, would it be advisable to cut my losses and move on? Aside from just asking advice, I'd like to discuss the virtues and vices of doing "a free project or two" to get into the swing of things and fill up your portfolio. I can surely say that I've learned what not to do with a client. None of this is to say that the problem was completely theirs - I messed up too.

    (Now if you've made it through that short essay...) Opinions are welcomed and encouraged.

    [Edit] If anyone's interested in my thoughts and deductions regarding what went right and what went wrong, I can do a little write up. It may be helpful, but I suppose it may also be redundant to those who know the web business well.

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  3. #2
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    Well, I am a firm believer in doing freebies to build up your portfolio.

    This does not mean that I like to be messed abour or anything, it is always a good idea to draw up a document stating exactly what you will be handing over at the end.

    However, that may be the case, and as you say they are just nit picking.

    I think you should stop contacting the middle man, after all, if this is for a local church, well you would think that they have a fairly large community base, which could lead to other work.

  4. #3
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    Talk directly to the pastor, if you still don't see eye to eye then cut your losses. You have spent 3 months on the project and haven't even agreed on a design. Unless you get a break through in the next few days i really don't see any reason to continue on.

    The whole point of free projects is to build up your portfolio. When in a stalemate you are not doing this.

    Next time draw up a contract. Saying what you will and won't do.

  5. #4
    Senior Member planetgman's Avatar
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    Quit. Plain and simple.

    The advice above is good and we can all say "you should have signed a contract".........but the reality is when you are doing it for free and it is your church, you don't always think to set up a contract on what you are willing to do.

    I've read a lot of your posts on here and know you to be a professional with good solid advice..........now you should take your own.
    If you are at this point, then you should just move on. I think 4 designs is enough for anyone to look at and say "ok, looks good but let's change this".

    Put all the files onto a disc and give them to the Pastor. You are a paid professional and your paying clients come first. He will know this.
    If the middle man is so damn picky, then he should either do it himself or find someone who will be willing to go through all the hoops.

    Offer your services in an advisory capacity when they find a new guy. This shows you are still willing to lend what support you can and the chances are that a new person won't consult you very much.

    I agree with bfsog, doing sites for free (and for a good cause) does help your portfolio. Most of the ones I have done have just given me free reign, so I haven't run into this issue. They are just glad to be getting a site and are thankful for my services.

    Best way to do that going forward is have a contract or at least have an outline of what you will and won't do and if it gets to a point where you don't want to, then offer consulting services to the person who will do it.

    I had a new person in my office yesterday who wants to start up their own business and as I told her, you will lose money when you first start out. Misquoting a project, not having a contract, not having the project details in writing, dealing with a demanding/unrealistic client, etc.
    Pretty much everyone in this industry I know started out making those same mistakes (as did I).
    For paying customers have a detailed contract drawn up by an attorney (mine cost $150) and for the free ones to build up your porfolio, have an outline of what you will do and what you won't do.

    Put in there that you will design 2 or 3 samples and go from there.........
    Doing those sites does build up your portfolio, but it also helps from a public relations/marketing standpoint as well.

    Good luck.....


    *Curious. What does this middleman do at the church? How is he in the decisionmaking process?
    GMan

  6. #5
    Senior Member Eddy Bones's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your input so far. It helps a lot.
    Quote Originally Posted by planetgman
    *Curious. What does this middleman do at the church? How is he in the decisionmaking process?
    As far as I know he's an administrative guy at the church. I don't know his official title. He probably does some sort of ministerial work also. As far as the site goes, he's the only one on staff who know anything about web sites, but his knowledge is limited to a crippling degree. As far as decision making, he either does not or should not hold much sway. The way I see it, the pastor's decision is executive, and mine should come second. Sadly throughout the project I've only talked with the pastor once. That's a mistake I'll take blame for - not getting him involved much, much sooner. But in my volunteering capacity, I was not aware who was really in charge of the project. I was simply answering to the middleman because I thought him to be the head man. I wasn't aware that the pastor really wanted to have anything to do with it until he adamantly said that he wanted to meet with me.

  7. #6
    Senior Member -chris-'s Avatar
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    Get in touch with the pastor, skip the middleman. The pastor, and the church, are the ones who will look bad if the middleman drives you into making a crappy site. The pastor is the head of the church, and his decision is, or at least should be, final. The site should reflect the personality of the church and the pastor. Take a look at other church websites, and you should be able to tell what sort of services they offer just from the style of the site.

    Are you a contemporary church? Then go for a flashy, contemporary site.

    Are you a more formal church? Then go for a more classic design.

    In the end, the site should match the atmosphere of the church, not some nit-picky middleman, who wants things his way.

    (I have worked in a church for the past 7 years.)
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  8. #7
    Senior Member planetgman's Avatar
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    I see. Well, wrap it up and move on.
    I think you've spent enough time (and frustration) on this, so you should get out while you still have a good relationship with them.

    Good luck either way.....
    GMan


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