This is a famous web comic about a common experience in web design:
It’s based on the author’s personal experiences and describes a typical / caricature client from hell who treats the designer as:
a mouse cursor inside a graphics program which the client can control
by speaking, emailing, and instant messaging
…ruining the finished product by, for example:
- Demanding unnecessary changes so they feel they have put their stamp on the design
- Making vague, half-baked or contradictory requests
- Bringing in requests for changes from people not connected to the project
- Silly requests that appeal to the client but would make no sense to an end user
Some of the solutions I thought of:
- Quitting web design and starting my own online business.
- Only accepting jobs offered by professional web/graphic designers.
I think a lot comes down to having courage.
Work only for good clients. Turn down jobs from people from whom you get the vibe of trouble ahead (either by politely declining, or asking for an outrageous price). Glamorous jobs that would look good on your portfolio may be among them, as well as big-money jobs. In that case, it’s up to what you want more badly – a nice job, or a well-paid/fame-creating job.
Work out a clear set of specifications, sketches and previews with the client, and then freeze them. Have the client sign them. Then start implementing. Charge outrageous prices for changes that take place after the specs have been frozen (“I need to re-work all the HTML”). You would never ask a plumber to change the plumbing after he’s worked for a week to put it into the walls – it’d be a whole new project. The client needs to see your work the same way.
As a sub-set to #2, be careful with working in front of clients you don’t know well. If they get the impression that “you just have to click a button to make a change”, the gates to the hell illustrated in Oatmeal’s strip are quickly opened.
And in the end, if it happens anyway… remove your name from the end result, write a bill, and move on. After all, it’s work, helps pay the rent and if the client insists on wanting crap despite your fighting for good design values, you’ve done all you could.