Designers Blacklists - Do You Have One?

“Mutual respect is a necessary part of the mix especially if you’re freelancing”

OK this is a second attempt at asking the dark question of designers and developers - is there anyone out there you wouldn’t work with, perhaps again, for the life of you? Do you have a hitlist or a blacklist of business to avoid? I do and am on a number of other firm’s bad books and its entirely natural. My corporate goals aren’t amenable to some and I’m not overly fond of the parochial handshake happening around town.

There are also difficult clients and situations where you’re just not willing to work anymore with certain people - yep into the blacklist for them. The symptoms of potentially bad clients are overly long emails and phone calls which don’t result in income generation, late night phone calls on non-urgent matters, any situation where you’re receiving instruction via email on moving pixels here and there or arbitrarily fulfilling circular changes to please the momentary whim of a client who may have no idea. Or worse, who wants that idea translated to a backorder of past work on every iteration. We all know what the high maintenance client is like and usually you provide the work and move on.

One of my favourites was when a fellow designer / developer insisted I should anti-alias the fonts on his site in the markup! No joking he thought standard markup could anti-alias - hey that would be great in the Cascading Style Sheets specification if I can put my orders in. The same guy asked me where the footer was located in his WordPress files (footer.php) and asked me to deliver the site and he’d put in the keywords himself - over a year later he’s still being Googled as Hunter Island Press Inc and seems either unaware or unable to fix it.

Another was a guy who surprised me at having the server misconfigured but insisting it was all my fault, to the extent of writing a post which mentioned I was working on the project and he posted - in his own name - a comment under it saying

Not happy Jan!

As you can guess there were a number of issues and I just wouldn’t work with that group of people again. I think mutual respect is a necessary part of the mix, especially if you’re freelancing, because you are your business identity.

And there are whitelists - people you’re willing to work with at the drop of a hat. Some people are easier to develop lasting relationships with and find it easier to relinquish control in the faith you actually know your job. Some businesses have a culture you’re inclined to like while others you’re not going to enjoy at all. We’re no longer contained by locality anymore. Issues like city or country really mean very little when you can be paid via Paypal for services rendered.

So consciously or subconsciously we probably all have our lists. If I got a phone call which was abusive in the schoolyard sense I have a very definite “drop the client” philosophy. Its a line in the sand. Another is I make tableless web standards compliant pages - I prefer not to produce invalid markup as a matter of course. But everyone has their limits and mores. On the flip side if someone takes my advice I’m inclined to like them more, if they pay on time that’s a tick, if their brother isn’t whinging in the background saying I’m incompetant and he can do better then all lights are green to go.

As designers / developers, especially as freelancers, its important to maintain a certain level of integrity in how we expect to be treated. Amicable relationships do need to be fostered and do take a lot of time but I find under the 80/20 rule the problem clients are generally the one’s you need to cull. After all if you’re not making money from it then cut the fat.

2 Responses to “Designers Blacklists - Do You Have One?”

  1. Robin Says:

    Yes I personally have a black list of people I will not work with. In a small community this really important. Some people I have loved working with and are on my white list, are on other peoples black list !!!! It comes down to the relationships that are built and the trust involved.

  2. nortypig Says:

    Hi Robin, thanks for dropping by and commenting. I know there are some people I work with brilliantly while others seem to be high maintenance and require most of my effort before I even get a chance to code for the day. Similarly, my viewpoint here has closed doors as well as opened others.

    One thing I’ve learned in life is one person’s bane is another person’s guiding light too. Its amazing how different personalities can bring the best or worst out in each other. And I’ve had people who were total trolls to others while being insanely and even unreasonably loyal to me (and vice versa).

    I’m slowly learning what and who brings out the best in my work and not. That’s the key to take away at the end of the day. Without some alignment on the deeper issues of what is considered good design, on what is meant by quality of code, on basic business principles such as advertising and spamming, it can be difficult to forge solid relationships. I’m probably not a good person in that area though, I confess. So its definately not all the other people’s fault lol.

    I just think its healthy for people to realise and even say out loud they have places they prefer to work for. Just because we’re freelancers doesn’t mean we’re desparados!

    Cheers Robin and thanks for dropping by with feedback. Its true that you can only ever take people as you find them and if they’re difficult try to avoid the stress of working with them anymore. One of my key strategies has always been to work as little locally as possible.

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