The importance of teaching your clients and being the boss
What I have come to realise over the last few years is that too many people are trying their best to please the client over the visitor. The client is not the primary aim, the visitor is. Of course the client has to like and approve the site but you should not be letting one persons clouded judgement determine the outcome of the entire project – design is personal and subjective – the sooner you realise that and the sooner you teach your client that, the better off you will be.
I am a designer, not a construction worker
Clients hire you to design the site, they have hired you hopefully based on a combination of talent and experience. You are the designer, you are not a simple construction worker piecing something together from the clients Ikea-like instruction manual – some clients need to be told this up front and be constantly reminded of it. Potential clients that already know exactly what they want and simply need a lackey to build it for them are always going to be hard work and ones I tend to avoid at all costs.
My sites always consist of progressive enhancement techniques that might not work in every browser and I often hear people complaining that: “I have clearly never had to build a site for a corporation with 40,000+ employees working on company-owned machines standardised on IE6.” – You’d be right, I haven’t and why in the world would I want to? This is an unenviable job that someone has to do, but flooding great articles on progressive enhancement and the latest and greatest techniques talking down their worthiness is really not helping. It is at this point you need to ask yourself if you are enjoying what you are doing, and if not get out now before it completely consumes you.
Be the boss, not the bitch
Standing up to your client or boss is easily one of the hardest things you will ever have to do but believe me it is something you should be doing on a regular basis. I am often challenging my clients decisions and in turn getting my decisions challenged right back, this is a wonderful situation to be in where every change or idea is getting discussed and pushed to be as good as it can be. Great two way communication with your client is absolutely key to the success of your project.
I hate to harp on about it but it really does not matter if the site looks the same in every single browser and if that is what your client is asking of you, you need to either teach them otherwise sharpish or get the heck out of dodge. We may check the browser in a dozen browser and operating configurations but the visitors don’t, and never will, we can not forget that. They simply wont notice if a rounded corner or drop shadow is missing.
Teaching clients that the site will not look the same in every browser should be a day one task. We aren’t working in the print industry where the final product can not be altered and it’s not a DVD or Blu-Ray disc that has just gone to press – it’s a living breathing website that will continue to progress, be altered and evolve.
Blah blah rounded corners blah blah
border-radius property has really brought the worst out in some people which is a real shame but it has become a superb example of exactly what will happen on the web if we continue to use these properties at such early stages. The more we use these subtle properties (that might at first be vendor specific) the more traction they will possess and the more likely others will be to pick them up and before long they could be spec bound.
I feel really sorry for people complaining about the use of advanced CSS properties on current websites because their “clients might notice it looks a bit different and wonder why or expect it to be broken.” If they are doing this, you are doing your job wrong! It is absolutely, unequivocally your job to be teaching your clients how the web works in a fashion that they can understand. Not all browsers render websites the same, this is ingrained in us and we can not forget to teach our clients this.
Now, go out there and build some awesome websites with the latest techniques, make them the best sites they can possibly be and to all of those people that are incessant on complaining about progressive enhancement I can only really explain it one way:
“I want my sites to look Safari in Safari, and IE6 in IE6. I most definitely do not want my sites to look like IE6 in Safari.” – Sam Brown