At the time of the following account, I had over six years experience working in the magical world that is multimedia. The new company I began working for was small, but it was still doing a steady business. While there was plenty of work to do, we were still suffering because there simply weren't enough developers to go around. Thus, a number of smaller projects were sidelined in favour of the more lucrative ones.
My new boss approached me with a contract to design and develop a DVD-ROM presentation for a client to do in my spare time. I jumped at the opportunity, partially because I could use the extra dosh in my bank account, partially because here was a chance to design and develop my own baby (because I was a 'newbie', I was still opening up and working with designs and files created by my more - haha! - 'senior' co-workers). After discussing some of the specs, we haggled a bit on price, and when we reached an agreement, my boss filled me in on a detail he felt was critical:
Boss: We showed *guy* from *company* this presentation during our first meeting. He really liked it.
Me: Okay - let's have a look.
*Boss launches this presentation created by his "Wonderboy" head developer, and then began gauging my reaction for any hint of awe and delight. If the year was 1994, when Director animation was king, I might have obliged. Welcome to the 21st Century.*
Boss: What do you think?
Me: (lies) Pretty good. *Wonderboy* should be pleased.
Boss: We want to present *company* something along these lines.
Me: (slightly annoyed) Okay - I'll look at the specs and do what I can, but what the client LIKES and what the client WANTS are generally two totally different things.
Boss: So long as it's something like this.
I received all the necessary specifications, requirements, image files, logos, etc. I browsed through the client's website and downloaded a horde of their brochures, leafing through them and getting a feel for their identity. I got to know their products and viewed a few videoclips. Most importantly, I studied the proposal for the DVD-ROM and noted, as I had suspected, that the client had made it adamantly clear that the design was to follow the look and feel of their corporate branding. The presentation shown to me – the one which I was to emulate – looked and felt NOTHING like the company's branding. Making what I thought was a sound judgement, I decided to go by the agreed-upon proposal between their company and ours and designed three different templates based upon that.
Everything was be filtered through the boss for his approval, so I couldn't contact the client directly at the time to ascertain and confirm anything to do with the project. So, after completing the designs, I did up some jpegs and emailed them to my boss, then went to his desk to discuss what I had done.
Boss: (looking at the designs) What are these?
Me: These are three different designs I want to run by you for *company*.
Boss: This isn't what I asked for. I want it to look like what *Wonderboy* did.
Me: I went through the proposal. What the CLIENT wants is a design which reflects their corporate identity. *Wonderboy's* presentation doesn't fit this requirement.
Boss: I need you to do this again. Make it look like what *Wonderboy* did.
Two days later I have two new static designs ready for my boss's approval. He's really keen on them.
Boss: That's more like it, mate. Send those off to *guy*.
I'm given *guy's* business email and, with great reservation, fire the new designs off.
Later that morning I receive an email from our illustrious client. He expressed a liking for the design, saying it was very nice, but it was not what he had asked for, it was not what was agreed upon, and that I was clearly NOT on the right path. He sent me a link to his company's website, advising me to take note of the branding, colour scheme, etc. He also suggested I go over the proposal again to see exactly what was required.
Deep breath. As it happened, I had the designs I had previously done (the ones rejected by my boss) readily available, so I replied to the email straight away, with jpegs attached, asking him politely what he thought of these? I also made sure to CC my boss to make sure that he was up to speed on the entire thread of this correspondence.
The client was quick to get back to me and expressed satisfaction with the fruits of my (boss-rejected) labours. He picked the design he liked best and, working from his comments and suggestions, created a pretty nifty DVD-ROM presentation that gained a fair bit of praise not only from within his company, but with their clients as well. Our job, sometimes, is to make other people look good, I guess.
Of course, I made sure that my boss was CC'd on each and every glowing report on the project. Not only did he not speak another word to me about the project or the client, but I never received another contract from him.
Some people just can't admit when they're wrong.