Arguing the toss

I want the logo bigger and in the middle!

There’s too much white space, let’s fill it with pictures!

I want to add more information in!

Can we have some flashy, moving stuff?

Been here before? I have. It’s easy to get pent-up when you’re dealing with a client who either thinks they know what’s best or won’t budge on something you believe to be a risk to the project but, the key is to remain calm, objective.

Define the requirement, assess the associated risk and implications then recommend a strategy that ticks as many boxes as possible thus keeping the client happy and not putting the expertise of the project in jeopardy:

  • Define the risk. Saying it will ‘mess the while design up’ or ‘effect the website usability performance’ is not defining the requirement. Clearly specify to your client, in their language (i.e. not technical jargon in the hope it will wash over) exactly what you mean. Why will the design be messy, can you mock something up to demonstrate your concerns? In what way will the website underperform, and why? At what point will the requirements asked for by the client start to interfere?
  • Assess the risk. Keep your cool and make sure you’re not reacting. Do you still think there’s a risk to the project if you implement the changes requested? How serious is it? How certain can you be that these performance problems will actually happen? What will the impact be on the users if they do? Most importantly, what is your rationale? Can you back your argument up with case studies or facts? You’re the expert here, the client has come to you for your opinion but make sure it’s a just and balanced one and solidify your point with back up, this will give the client little room to argue the toss with.
  • Recommend a solution strategy. Is there a mid-way solution? What’s the best way to implement it? And again, how can you back this up? Can you mock a prototype? Demonstrating rather than talking nearly always gets the client on board.
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