So what does it take for a serious customer relationship to flourish?
Talk is cheap (even when it's chargeable). It's better to take the time to plan things through and consider all the options than to leap mistakenly in the wrong direction.
In the first place you should be doing the talking while we listen – communication is not two parties broadcasting at each other. We listen in order to understand your unique business, your ideas, the problem you are trying to solve. We don't have a product range to funnel you into – we suggest the best approach for you.
The customer is always right. That's not a glib customer service mantra, nor does it mean we sell our souls just because you're paying us. Ultimately it is a tautology: the customer is always right because what the customer says goes. Even if on occasion we may think you're doing it wrong, at the end of the day we trust you to know your business.
But when you come to us with your problems, let us supply the web expertise – and together we will figure out the solution. For a relationship to be fruitful, you have to trust us to work to your best interests, rather than presenting us the solution as a fait accompli and limiting your horizons to your own knowledge or skills. In return, we trust you to know your customers better than anyone.
The decay of a design seems to be easy pickings for cartoonists. Whilst it is a depressing truth that the original purity of a design will erode with use, we don't let it become a personal matter. Entropy is inevitable: all software rusts and portfolios degrade.
As your site changes with use there needs to be mutual respect – you for our design skills, and our designer for your business needs. In web design we are not artists with unlimited creative freedom trying to create perfect work. We are problem-solvers trying to communicate through the media of words, whitespace, UX and graphics. Your changing needs are a legitimate constraint on our design.
Rather than complaining, we hope to earn your respect in the solutions that we provide for you. And we hope that we can respect you as well – as you grow in awareness that your requests for alterations might affect more than you realise in the whole design. Is the change really helpful? Does it compromise other goals that you have?
A bad hair day may spoil a date but it wouldn't wreck a marriage. Stable homes give kids the best possible chances in life. When projects are delivered in the context of a committed working relationship, the ups and downs become less tumultuous, far less energy is wasted in friction and the progress is immense.
Like it? You shoulda put a ring on it.