This happens to me once in a while, and I do my best to convince the client for his own business greater good, but this time is getting serious...

I am developing a web project for the client (it's a small company of about 10 employee), the site has a very nice modern bootstrap responsive template with full screen images in background, html5 flipping books, etc.

The problem is that I have to publish in this website 26 PDF catalogues, of about 30 to 50 pages each. These catalogues are self made, they don't want to spend money so someone inside the company does the catalogues in MS Word, but believe me, to put the pages of these catalogues in the site is like a punch in the face and a kick in the teeth togheter.

I can't put here the catalogues for obvious reasons but imagine in MS Word, add a black background (with white borders around), insert the logo in the first page (the logo background has a different point of black, so you see a nice square), insert a picture directly from the camera or phone as it is, add a yellow text in Comic CAPS like "NEW CATALOGUE 2016-2017". Then all the following pages are tables with low quality misaligned pictures and Comic texts around. Some pictures was clipped with magic wand and have ugly borders... Then all is printed to PDF by a freeware plugin. OK you got the idea...

It's really a pity to ruin a very nice website inserting hundreds of these pages, so I suggested to the client to:

  1. Redo all the catalogues in the proper professional way.
  2. Abandon the idea of flipping books, use an e-commerce style web catalogue, using only the single images and adding the description in the backend.
  3. Put the catalogues only as downloadable files not showing anything of them.

He is very stubbord and he doesen't want to do anything of that, because he doesen't want to lose time or spend money. He told me that the catalogues are pretty good and he wants to see in the site the catalogues as they are, in the form of browsable flipping books.

How can I make him understand that it's going to be a suicide in terms of company image? What would you do in this case? Do you have to face clients that pretend to be good graphic designers or to have good graphical taste but they absolutely and objectively don't?

4 Answers 4


Disagreeing with the client happens now and then.

Whenever I come across something odd at a client, I attempt to explain it - like you have. If they still disagree, I rethink and rephrase my argument and present it again.

If the client still disagrees or chooses to outright ignore my advice, that is their sovereign right. There might be business aspects you don't know about and they do not want to disclose.

If you are confident in your advice and the client is long-term, future developments should validate your advice. If or when that happens, never be an I-told-you-so; just help the client.

The other option is leaving the client in an orderly fashion, stating that you cannot continue working as you fundamentally disagree with their approach.

The preferable option depends on a wide scale of factors; the depth of the disagreement, the importance of the client, your financial situation and so on.


Get your money, and run. That's all you can do. Sometimes you have to allow people to fall on their faces before they can realize that there's this neat thing called gravity.


There's literally nothing you can do here. If the client does not see the value in design.... you, being an outside professional entity, won't change that mindset.

In my experience, small business owners, or just business owners, only learn the value of design through direct impactful information....

  • Catalog A (secretary's Word file) resulted in $XXX.00 sales.
  • Catalog B (professionally designed) resulted in $XX,XXX.00 sales.

Either that or they engage with a business partner, wife, husband, sibling, mentor, parent who convince them of the value so they "try" it only to discover there actually is value in professional design.

In the end, it's a tough pill to swallow, but just do what he wants and get your money. Voicing disagreement is fine, But adamantly standing by your disagreement is just poor customer service.

I've lost count of the number of times I've just shut up and did what the client wanted even though I expressed to them it wasn't the best course of action.

Yup.. ruins a possible portfolio piece, but he's the client.


You could turn it around and tell your client:

"If you ask me to go through with this I have end our relationship, because as a professional I can't stand for this. It will reflect badly on my job as a professional web-designer."

Your ability to get new work depends a lot on your past work and you don't want to have an ugly turd in your portfolio.

  • I'd recommend not insulting the client by insinuating they are unprofessional. Bad word of mouth travels faster than good word of mouth.
    – Scott
    Oct 25, 2016 at 16:31
  • @Scott sorry I'm from a culture where such honesty and directness is actually appreciated. People would rather have a cold hard truth then white lies in these kind of situations. So I guess my answer is regional.
    – Pieter B
    Oct 28, 2016 at 6:36

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