How to Deal with Clients That Have Outsized Expectations

How to Deal with Clients That Have Outsized Expectations

Clients have big ideas for their websites. It’s an opportunity to build something special. But web designers don’t always share the same level of enthusiasm.

That’s not because we don’t want to help clients achieve their goals. It’s because we understand the reality of how challenging a project can be. A great website requires skill, hard work, and resources to do things right.

Clients don’t always consider this. Sometimes they don’t know what’s involved. Or they assume that we’ll figure out the details on the fly.

This can result in a disconnect between stakeholders. The design and build processes become anything but collaborative. Worst of all, it puts the project outcome at risk.

So, how do you deal with clients that have outsized expectations? You can start by providing a reality check.

Try to Understand Your Client’s Point of View

The first step is to get a sense of what your client is thinking. This is key information. It allows us to gauge their level of seriousness.

After all, it’s not uncommon for people to express big ideas. Even when they have no intention of following through. They may be thinking out loud or fishing to see what they can get on the cheap.

It’s also important to understand a client’s motivation. For instance, their competitor has a specific look or function that they want to replicate. They may see their website as a means to keep pace.

Understanding a client’s expectations will help you formulate a response. Maybe their logic isn’t sound, and their demands are unrealistic. But there’s also a chance that they’re spot on.

What you learn will help you move forward. You can create an approach that fits the project and personalities involved.

Understanding the root of your client's ideas is important

Offer a Detailed Project Analysis

Now that you have a better grasp of your client’s vision, what next? This is a great time to fill them in on the details.

It will take some research to gather all of the relevant information. But once you’re confident in what needs to be done, you can discuss any findings with your client.

Every project is different. But there are a few items that will apply universally:

Technical Requirements

Some clients aren’t tech-savvy. Therefore, it’s unlikely that they’ll understand what goes on behind the scenes. Things like software, hosting, and custom code are what power a website. But for non-developers, they’re often out of sight and out of mind.

Thus, it’s up to web designers to outline these technical requirements. Doing so allows stakeholders to learn the full scope of the project.

We can also fill them in on the potential benefits and drawbacks that are involved. If a website needs a third-party app or plugin, for example, clients need to know the software’s limitations. They can weigh options and make an informed decision.

The Project’s Cost and Timeline

With the technical requirements out of the way, we can turn our attention to cost.

It’s here where expectations often begin to settle down. Clients must contemplate the price of what they’re asking for. And it may be too much commitment in some cases.

Time is also a crucial factor. Some items on their wishlist may take longer than anticipated. It might mean adjusting the launch date. Conversely, a feature with major time requirements could be left out entirely.

Learning the project details can help a client prioritize

Reassess the Project’s Priorities

Seeing the big picture may lead a client to reassess their priorities. A feature that costs too much or would take too long to implement could mean a change of heart. They may also get a sense of what’s most important.

Now the conversation can shift to determining a realistic path forward. It’s about finding solutions that will help meet the project’s goals.

Among the questions that need to be answered:

  • What can be reasonably achieved within the budget and timeline?
  • What items are critical to the website’s functionality?
  • Are there any items that could be implemented after launch?

Each project is unique. Thus, there may be other questions worth asking. But the above provides a solid starting point.

Client expectations can change as the project moves forward

Manage Client Expectations, Help Them Achieve Their Goals

When a client has outsized expectations, it can be cause for concern. Building a complex website in a short timeframe is enough to make any designer’s head spin. You might wonder how to accomplish what they’re asking for.

But it’s important to keep things in perspective. Big talk may be just that. Their expectations may come back to earth once they understand the project requirements.

The key is to communicate with clients. Listen to their ideas and find out what motivates them. Paint them a picture of what’s involved, what it costs, and how long it will take. This will keep everyone on the same page.

If their expectations are still otherworldly, so be it. Make sure that you’re being paid accordingly. And you can always say “no” if it isn’t a good fit.

But a realistic view of the project can help. It provides an opportunity for collaboration. That helps to ensure the best possible outcome.

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