April 25, 2010
I’ve always assumed I’m the most difficult, argumentative developer/designer in the country. Apparently not, there are far worse and they’re everywhere. A couple of longstanding clients have recently commented on how comparatively easy I am to work with, specifically my degree of tact when dealing with difficult projects. I am not being ironic.
I bitch and moan constantly about some of the work I have to do, friends, relatives and the less knowledgeable project managers look at me like I’m mental and trot out the traditional line “well, it’s all paid work isn’t it?”. Here’s the problem, it’s not about whether it’s paid work or not. Anyone who has entered a creative industry through choice generally has an expectation of the quality of work they will be doing, an expectation of job satisfaction. Sounds pompous, probably is, but that’s the reality. Often I can deal with crappy deadlines and budgets better than bad design and implementation decisions, I don’t expect to have much say on budget or timeline (for agency run jobs), but I’d like to at least have my opinion heard when a client makes a stupid decision which may damage the final quality or outcome of a project.
From a personal perspective, here’s why your developer/designer may be getting the arse with you for what you perceive to be completely reasonable requests:
The constant redo
Asking them to redo the same piece of work over and again because the client can’t quite decide if it should have the blue border or the green border? The repetition can make me very stabby indeed. There’s the next part of the project to move onto and I’ve just wasted a day shifting the same pixels back and forth (or worse a week), and really I already know which is the best decision and have probably yelled it down the phone a couple of times.
The Neverending Project
Mmmm… scope creep the bane of my existence. Several things here, firstly project fatigue, after a while of staring at the same project you just can’t face it any longer, you need to switch to something else for a while. Adding just another page/button/function may seem trivial but even that ten minute task can make you lose the will to live. Secondly, on a more pragmatic level we’ve probably got something else lined up to be getting on with and if the scope creep has pushed us past deadline there’s someone else on our case about starting their project. Finally, and most importantly, an awful lot of scope creep includes totally unnecessary and pointless additions which I feel (sometimes incorrectly) will have a negative impact on the final outcome, I don’t want to release something crappy and bloated if it can be avoided.
You’re wrong, wrong wrong
Faced with a decision that’s clearly bollocks by a client or project manager I have two options. I can shut up, carry out the bad instruction and take the cash or I can explain why it’s clearly bollocks. The latter has a tendency to go down like I’ve just murdered someone’s granny. Some idiot somewhere has made the clearly bollocks decision and may well be very proud of it (recently: “I’ve used MS Paint to adjust our website layout, can you please implement this”) so there’s a high chance they are going to get offended when you tell them as much, the project manager doesn’t want to pass this message on and so pushes for the clearly bollocks decision to be implemented regardless of how wacky it is, I dig my heels in and explain repeatedly how clearly bollocks it is. No-one is happy. Don’t let the client get involved in the creative process, they’ll only arse it up and piss of those who are being paid to design.
I want to do it properly
Especially with a big project, I might be putting months of my life into a website. I don’t want the end result to be a bucket of sick. It’s partly the portfolio argument, in that I want to be able to proudly display every site I do in my portfolio to try and garner new work, but in reality I never update my portfolio (so rarely I’m not even going to link to it). More seriously, it’s pride in my work, I know that if I release anything that’s got even the slightest issue that’s will be the only thing I will notice when I look at it again, I’ll never be able to show someone the website without apologising in advance for the strange way the menu works or the odd clash of colours in the footer.
There’s plenty more that gets on my tits on a daily basis but it’s nice outside and I don’t want to stare at a screen all weekend. Generalising horribly, if your developer or designer doesn’t get the nark on with you from time to time, they probably don’t give a crap about their work and could work a little harder at it (or they are bottling it up and will one day come at you with a sharp pencil).
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