9 Things that Will Drive Your Web Designer Nuts

web designWebsite development is not easy for the web designer or for the client, but there are things you can do to make things easier for your designer. There are also things that you can do that will make them very agitated and angry.

Because the web development process can be difficult and tedious I am going to tell you about some things to avoid doing so your working relationship with your developer will be better. (Side note: I am fully aware that there are web design companies that drop the ball; perhaps we will touch on that in a different article.)

1) Expecting A Designer to Be at Your Beck and Call

Anyone in the web design or developing business has to have a good number of clients at one time to make a living. Just think about this – you pay half up front and you don’t pay the other half until the site is completed (which could be 3-6 months depending on how long the process takes). The deposit you put down is not going to pay the bills for a web designer for months; they need other clients to pay the bills.

You are not the only client. Because of that, the designer and their team cannot be available every single time you want something. Please understand that they have responsibilities and obligations to many people, not just you. If it takes 24 hours to get a call or email back, that is a respectable time. In the mean time, take notes on all the issues you want to discuss so you can get everything out in one conversation.

Another important note: web designers may work all hours of the day, but that doesn’t mean they are available to talk after working hours or on the weekends just because that is when you are free. They deserve family time like everyone else.

2) Failing to Gather Materials Which Results in Slower Progress

As I mentioned earlier, web designers get a certain amount of money in the beginning. They need to make that money last for a period of time and also finish a website in a certain period of time to receive their final payment or they start to lose money.

Businesses, sometimes, are not in a big rush to finish a website and they are fine with it taking 6-12 months. This is not fair to a designer because they have to keep the job on the books and pay attention to it even if you are not. They are losing money and time and also paying for your site to be on development server. Plus, they deal with your emails consistently which takes a lot of time. The designer is losing time and money. You can’t expect them to be happy about a project if they are losing money.

It is really important to remember that designers have families and bills to pay. They need jobs to get done in a reasonable amount of time. Help them do that by sending them the requested documents, content and images they need so they can effectively develop your website. The website getting finished in a timely manner is good for you and the developer.

3) You Disappear for Three Months & Suddenly It Is Urgent That the Site Gets Finished

A web designer is depending on finishing a website to get the money that they need to make a living. Say a business owner disappears and does not respond to emails or phone calls. The web designer then must take on another job to offset the money they will possibly not be receiving. (How do they know if you are coming back?) Other clients are anxious to get the work done and are helping the designer consistently to finish the project(s), so the business owner that disappeared gets put on the back burner. This is logical.

However, the absent business owner suddenly realizes that they need their site, comes to the designer and complains that the site isn’t finished and demands it be finished quickly. Anyone that does this should know that they have essentially killed a good working relationship with the designer. The designer may be polite, but they were screwed financially by the disappearing act and on top of it they are now receiving demands. I highly recommend businesses avoid this.

If you have to disappear tell the designer why. Offer to pay a holding fee monthly to keep the project going or apologize for the disappearing act and ask them what you can do to get the project running again.

4) Giving Content on Paper and Expecting a Designer to Re-Type All Your Content

A developer or designer works very hard on coding and design. Trust me when I say that the coding and design take a lot of hours and require tedious work. When they add content to your website, they also have to format that content so it looks nice and this is also very time consuming work.

Typically copying and pasting content saves some time. When you expect a web designer to re-type your content, it is just rude. They are not being paid to type out content, but to make you something wonderful. Typically with a web design, a business pays for a certain number of hours of work and usually they want to stick to that number and not pay more. If someone insists on a designer re-typing, I can assure you that the designer will deduct some time from other work they needed to do to offset the cost.

Please send them documents where designers can copy and paste. Ask them how they would like the content sent so time and money is saved on both sides.

5) Sending Lots of Images with No Organization

Images are a ton of work. Every image that goes on a site is resized, named and uploaded. An image-intense website can double the cost of a website because the images alone are so much work.

When businesses send a disk or flash drive of images with no organization or names and they expect the web designer to figure out which images go where, they are adding a ton of time to the designer’s already long list of tasks. This drives designers insane. If you have images you want on a certain pages you could organize them into folders that name the page so they designer knows where they go.

You can also label images if you are emailing. No matter how you get images to your designer, I highly recommend you find a way to organize the images so things are easier for the designer. It will save you a ton of time answering questions and it will also save the designer a lot of time. Ask your designer how they would like to receive images from you.

6) Asking 19 Questions in 14 Emails

I already established that web designers have more than one client. So if every client emails many times (and they do), the designer has to spend a lot of time sifting through emails. They often have to go back to each one to make sure each question is addressed and readdressed.

It is wiser to sit and create a list of questions and send them all in one email so the designer only has to look at one email. Often designers have to go back to the email conversation when working because requests are in there. It is a lot easier to look at one email of conversations verses 14 emails with conversations.

Always keep in mind how much time an email or emails take. Do you want your designer spending hours answering emails or do you want those hours spent on your website?

7) Not Trusting the Web Designer

The thing that used to eat me alive the most was the fact that my partner and I would make recommendations based on usability principles, design, SEO and over-all knowledge based on experience and clients would not listen or trust the advice. We had absolutely no reason to offer advice that had no merit, but businesses wanted to ignore the advice and believed their way was better.

If you are given a recommendation don’t dismiss it outright. Ask why the recommendation is being made and really listen to the thoughts you are given. It is perfectly alright to disagree, but at least give the designer and their team the respect to listen to their thoughts.

8) Having a Bad Day and Taking it Out on the Designer by Sending Nasty Emails

We all have bad days and sometimes we take it out on others, but when you have someone killing themselves coding and constantly thinking about what is best for you and your business you want to avoid hurting feelings.

Often the nasty emails that come in are because someone is having a bad day. They are irritated already and they look at something about the website, write a crappy email and somehow forget that the person that receives that email is a human with feelings.

Please try to avoid this in all business dealings. Web designers sit all day and work on code and design. I can’t really explain in words how much that exhausts the brain, but it does. Nasty emails just don’t come across well to people that are mentally exhausted because they are creating something wonderful for you. Also keep in mind that emails don’t show the emotion on your face so the reader can’t tell if you are joking or attacking at times. Be careful how you word things.

9) Allowing Anyone in Your Business to Be Adversarial to the Web Design Team

Sometimes there is one person that just has to say negative things all the time or attack ideas. Some people have an ego problem and sometimes they even do things to slow down the project. This one person can destroy a good working relationship. This one person can make the designers life very un-enjoyable.

If you notice that one person is always being negative about the project or the designer you need to put a stop to it. Pull the negative person off the project or ask them what they problem is. The bottom line is: you need to finish the project and you need the designer to be on your side. There are always things that need to be addressed after a website launches, so you don’t want the designer to launch your website and walk away.

You will need a good working relationship with your designer in the future. Make sure respect is given on both sides.


As someone that has worked with many web design clients, I highly recommend you share this with anyone that is in the process of creating a new website. These 9 issues I have listed are so common, but they also cause a lot of problems for designers and working relationships.

The most important suggestion I have is to make sure everyone’s time and effort is respected. When there are issues, let go of anger and just ask what is going on. Most issues can be resolved if respect is there.

What issues have you seen with either web design clients or web designers?

Web Designer Photo via Shutterstock

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Melissa Fach Melissa Fach is the owner of SEOAware, LLC. Melissa specializes in consulting and training companies on how to effectively handle their online marketing strategies. Her company specializes in SEO consulting, content development and web development services.

23 Reactions
  1. Mark @ ThinkTraffic

    Great rant Melissa!

    I’m a web developer, but I have worked in such a capacity a couple of times and you’re right, it can be a very frustrating job.

    I particularly remember though, in my first ‘proper’ job after university I worked for a company that was having a website built and I felt very sorry for the web design firm – the client (my boss) was ridiculously demanding and seemed to change his mind about what he wanted every couple of days!

    I’m glad I now work in SEO, it has it’s moments, but it’s much better for that sort of thing.

  2. These are such good points! A good collaborative relationship between the client and the designer/firm is essential in doing good work that will generate business for the client. Designers have evolved over the years, understanding the importance of being clear and timely with their communications, yet it seems that many clients still lack basic manners when it comes to responding to emails, or addressing all of the questions they’ve been asked. This reluctance to cooperate surprises me, as it seems that many clients forget that they hired a designer to help them increase their revenue.

  3. Bowing to your comment, Brad! You should write up an article on that 🙂

  4. Melissa, love this article. You touched my “web designer feelings”. 🙂 I especially love the point on the client disappearing then reappearing with some urgency then complaining it’s not done after the designer has sent a dozen emails without any responses. Definitely putting on a “polite face” but bitching about the client to everyone in the background telling all my other web designer buddies to avoid the client at all costs. Thanks for the great post.

  5. Very good point, Melissa. You mentioned some highly aggravating things that would definitely drive me batty if I were a designer. Thanks for sharing.


  6. Those 9 point are the reason why I got out of the private sector and into government contracts instead.

    Excellent article, book marked for future reference for the next time someone asks me to build a web site in my off time.

  7. I LOVE this! I can’t tell you how many websites I’ve designed where I’ve run into at least half of these problems.

    Why don’t businesses understand that WE have lives as well? We’re not your personal army!

    I’ve actually declined that hand-written content thing in the past. I’m not a monkey; I am not writing a 500-word article word-for-word.

    • LOL, Joe. These are common problems that we in the biz knows, but it appears clients don’t. I was hoping to help with this article. We will see how it goes and I have also declined the re-writing.

  8. I would say any client guilty of engaging in points 7, 8 and 9 would have a huge impact on point 1.

    Any time you get a timely response from anyone you’ve hired it really helps to let them know you appreciate the quick turnaround.

  9. Great Article. Exactly the reason why I decided to leave the web design world for my own and started another path. Web designing is very exhausting on mind not to mention clients demanding followups and sometimes ‘change this, change that’ attitude of some. It is just great to have a client that views the website designer as a partner and with respect for their time and effort.

  10. I’m a designer like so many have had to migrate from print to web design just to stay alive. I did it kicking and screaming. It seemed like when I designed for print, clients had respect for your process and your creativity. For them it was rocket science of a kind and I held the keys to the rocket. But now that the internet has come to save human kind with it’s lightning speed, power and stinking fabulous templates for just about everything every Tom, Dick and Sherry is a designer. I guess I have a defective keyboard because I didn’t get a “magically appear” button. My mission in life is to create a great and compelling look for my clients whether it is for print or web site design. You have to put yourself right there at the gate and set your terms. I would really hate to have to use the button I DO have that says “magically DISappear”.

  11. Melissa,
    Great article and thank you for posting. I’m on the other side. My designer is now, without apology, 18 months over projected time to produce the website. The project was clearly defined at the onset of the relationship and there have been only minimal and minor changes along the way. I have never been late in providing information, digital content and collaboration. My staff has been 100% cooperative to all his needs. I insist that from our side of the relationship we act professional and respectful. The only hick-up in our relationship was when he presented his initial design concept we completely dished it. It was not at all to our liking and we expressed it openly. He was completely crushed and offered to refund our money. I was surprised at his sensitivity and that our designs differences could so easily shake his world. After holding his hand and assuring him of our confidence I thought we got past that rough spot. After the fact he even said he was happier with the changes we suggested.

    However, here we are 18 months behind schedule. I have talked to him about the pace and he admits it is taking a long time, but offers no explanation or apologies. The catch I am afraid we are dealing with is despite our agreed payment plan of an initial deposit and monthly payments he has decided not to finish the work until we have completed payments despite his proposal to finish the project 18 months earlier. I’m baffled by his lack of concern for how this reflects on him and his business. I’m also concerned in some passive aggressive act he is punishing us for our lack of sensitivity to his initial designs. I feel trapped having traveled down this road with him and investing a large amount of money and time. I am concerned that he could crush the whole project at his whim and I have no repercussions.

    On the positive his work appears to be excellent and his attention to details are remarkable. When working with him in the design process it is pleasurable and productive. I think he is intelligent and capable. I’m simply perplexed and feel vulnerable to what may or may not be a dark side to his character. I would try pushing the subject further with him, but am not sure the outcome will have a positive effect on the project. Do you have any advice?

  12. Its my life that I see on going through this article. I hope that almost all web designers faced these things in their life. Even though we have a high temper, we can’t express it to our clients. Wearing a mask of smiling smile, we should face those entire situations. Really frustrating!

  13. Those 9 points are all good reasons why a web designer could wish of a different career choice. I personally can not tolerate when a client thinks you are on their back and call, or just being rude for any reason. When talking to a prospective client I get a gut feeling the person will be testing my patience during the project, I usually reject the client regardless of any potential profit.

  14. Yes,
    Its true if you are working as a web developer in any small web development company you have to face this kind of situations when Your CEO or client will just sit next to you and disturb you again and again for doing what they want.