I work in the design industry for virtual reality and high end websites. One of the worst client offenders I see in this business is the ones which have a great idea for their company site but are unable to actually convey it to you, the designer. Let's listen in on a typical scenario, shall we?
Me: So you would like to hire us to design and implement your corporate website?
Client: Yes, I need it to be high tech and savvy. How much do you normally charge for services?
Me: Well prices range, but standard packages usually run about $2,000, and that will get you a full site and roughly a month of our time to work on it. After that we begin charging by the hour at a standard rate of $25.00 per hour. This usually covers spot checks and adjustments over the life of your website if you need it.
Client: Great! Here's a check for $2,000 (signs it and hands it over). Let's get started, shall we?
Me: *blinks* Sure. Just need you to sign the standard one-month contract. *customer happily signs it* Well what we'll start with is your documented materials.
Client: My what?
Me: You know, the type written copy of what you want your website to say. Maybe some brochures or something that you already have printed.
Client: I thought you wrote that stuff.
Me: Well we could, but that would extend the time it takes to do this. Let's move on. Do you have your business card on you? We can use the logo from that as a starting point.
Client: Sure! (removes a business card from his wallet completely worn and destroyed)
Me: Any chance you have one in better shape?
Client: Sorry, no.
Me: Tell me about how you envision your website to look. What kind of image are you going for?
Client: You're the expert, you tell me.
Me: (writes in notebook: client is clueless). Ok, so you have no copy or typed information to put on the site, no graphics, and no design ideas in mind. That is no problem, Sir. We can do a custom design from scratch, just email us some of your type written copy so we can get an idea what you are trying to tell your potential customers.
Client: No! We must remain in complete control of the design process. We have an important image to uphold. Since we have paid you for your services, you are to put the site together as we tell you. Ok?
Me: Sure. Just send us the copy and design notes and we'll get right on it. (writes in notebook: instant expert)
~client leaves the office, and after a week, we do a follow up call to see if they have gotten their items together. No dice. Repeat this step for the next three weeks.~
Fourth week comes up:
Me: Sir, you *do* realize that from start to finish this project was slated to take one month, and that your deposit was to cover the initial month of time at a discount rate. After this week, we will revert back to $25 per hour, or request another deposit should you wish to continue keeping our services on call.
Client: Yeah, some things came up. We don't have the copy yet or any design ideas. I'll send somebody over with next month's check to cover another month.
Me: *blinks* Thank you?
~repeat another month with the same issue~
Me: Sir, to be perfectly fair, it seems your company is not prepared for taking advantage of our services. I would recommend that you hold off on another payment until you have your copy and materials ready.
Client: Don't tell me what to do! I'll have somebody down there to take care of next month's payment.
Me: Sir, with all due respect, we aren't actually *doing* anything to warrant you to continue paying us in this manner. You are essentially renewing monthly contracts and wasting your money by not having the materials ready.
Client: Somebody will be down today with next month's payment.
~ twelve months go by like this, despite us nearly begging the client to prepare their materials prior to renewing a contract with us month after month. Until one day ~
Client: Hi, yes. I'm going to have to let you guys go.
Me: *rolls eyes over the phone* I am sorry to hear that, sir. Our services were not up to par, I assume?
Client: Well, geez! I've been looking in my company account and I've noticed how much I've been paying you guys. Then I check the company website and don't see any progress! What the [censored] is goin' on!?
Me: Sir, we've been over this countless times. Until you either allow us the creative control to design the website, or you provide us the design ideas and copy that your would like us to use, we cannot proceed with this project.
Client: Well you guys are worthless! What the hell have I been paying you for!?
Me: As I've stated before, you've been paying us to keep your account open and or designers on call.
Client: Well, I have a friend who can do websites and she said she'll do it for free. So I'll have to let you guys go.
Me: Alright. If in the future you need our services, don't hesitate to call us again.
Client: Why would I pay you again when somebody is going to do the same thing for free?
Me: You have a point, sir. Thank you for your business and good luck with your company website.
~ 3 months later ~
Client: Yeah, I would like your design team back on the project.
Me: I see, what happened to your other designer?
Client: Couple of months went by and she didn't get anything done. What a waste!
Me: Do you have your written copy and ideas hashed out yet?
Client: Well no. I was hoping you could do that for me.
Me: *sighs* Sure, we can design it from scratch and fill in the blanks, I just need a deposit and your signature on the contract form here before we -
Client: No, we still need to be in control of the design process. I'll send over the copy and designs as soon as possible. *signs the contract and forks over another $2,000 check*
Me: *sighs* Absolutely sir. We look forward to your continued business.
~repeat the past twelve months again~
This is why Web designers get paid what they do, and anything less may be better for the client but will likely drive the designer into the nuthouse before they get anything done.
We seriously need hazard pay.