I'm currently doing a website for a client as a freelance web developer. We had our first meetup and we discussed what he wants on the website, what his company does, etc. I coming up with the pages that he will need, such as products, services, contact etc. There were a few others related to his business. I showed him my initial draft of the website, which included the links that will be at the top navigator. He was happy with my initial draft.

However by our second meeting he had sketched together a very similar design to mine but with a few tweeks. This is fine and I didn't have any problems with these changes. However there was two things I noticed that I didn't like.

He had added two new links to the top menu of the website. These links are "About Us" and "News". When I asked him how does he want the news section to work ( does he want it linking to a new Wordpress?), which I was a bit reluctant about because it means more work for me with the same pay, he simply replied "I don't know. I did research on my competitors and they all had it". I died inside at this.

I decided to tell him quickly that there's no point in having the page if he doesn't know what he's going to do, how he's going to write up this news, or doesn't have time to do it. He then said ok we wont use "News". But by our next meeting he had referred to a newer version of his sketch, and it still included a "News" link. I asked him about it, reminding him that we agreed to get rid of it, and he said "Well I thought we could just have a link to my Twitter".

I'm not sure if he wants a new page to just display one twitter icon, to use a twitter api thing that shows tweets, or to have the main link direct to his twitter. I feel like I'm a broken record with him and don't know how to say "that's a bit rubbish to do/it will look poor". A similar thing is with his "About Us" section. While I find that the page may be necessary, I don't feel it needs to be at the top of the page, but rather in a footer with the Cookies Policy and other things no one cares about.

How can I raise these points to him without offending him? I've always told him I would always provide my professional oppinion if necessary, but now that I think it is - I don't know how!

Some information: - the man is a sucessful business person and a little intimidating - His business has been going for about 2 years and makes a lot of money but this is his first website

5 Answers 5


First: I think ist is your obligation as a expert Web pages to consult your customer. The customer is usually happy about helpful comments - of course you should stay respectful and objective.

so no "that's a bit rubbish" but rather *"We can do this, but my experience is that it would be better to do it like X for reasons A, B and C!"

Second: If some new request will carry more work, embrace it and be happy. You just need to inform your customer that it does and how much it will cost him additionally. Never just accept more work as included.

If a customer wants a certain change, and is happy to pay for it, despite your counselling, you should do it. Better yet, you should try to understand what your customer wants to achieve with it/ how his business is impacted by it. At last, you may be the expert on programming, but he is the one who makes the money with his business. Assume that he knows something about his trade.

For example on the "About us" - this may be an important section in his market, because new clients will want to have a look at the team, possibly to contact the right person directly.

On the other hand on the News-Section: If you inform your client that he need have a constant stream of news and that it usually takes a business with a dedicated PR-position to keep this alive, he may refrain from it. Show him examples of websites with outdated news-sections and argue that this can have an adverse effect, as customers may assume this company is no longer active. Offer alternatives: What about Putting the twitter feed on the front-page?

If you Provide that sort of counselling, this is what can set you apart from the large flock of "to-spec" web designers that often will work from overseas for very little money.


Well, first mistake is agreeing to a price before setting the entire scope of the project.

Always fully understand what is desired and then quote based upon that. Make it abundantly clear to the client during these exploratory conversations that any additional items will add additional costs.

Second, you need to remember you are the expert when dealing with the client. The client may be successful in their business and know their business well, but they are hiring you because they don't know what you know. So you need to be in control, set limitations, and set expectations properly.

If you are in the preliminary sketch phase of a project and new items are being added. You're first reaction should be along the lines of:

I'm happy to add that after some discussion regarding it's functionality. However, it will incur additional costs since it was not part of the original scope we agreed upon.

Repeat that every time something out of the defined scope is added. And then if the client is still interested in adding whatever it is, delve into functionality. Always remembering the client doesn't know what may be feasible, wise, best practice, or anything about development/interactivity/etc. It's up t you to speak up and let him/her know that the Twitter API provides a fairly simple "newsfeed" like scroll which doesn't warrant an entire page. It may be better to merely link directly to the Twitter account via an icon or display the last 3 tweets as a "news scroll" somewhere appropriate on the site.

In short, you shouldn't be intimidated. You have way more knowledge about this stuff than the client does. You don't want to appear argumentative, but you also don't want to be a complacent "Yes man". Express your opinions in a professional polite manner and explain why what he/she wants may not be a good idea. If the client pushes back and is adamant that something stupid be added, then, well, they are the client. They win. Just don't "roll over" because you are afraid to speak up. The client is paying you to speak up if you know better.


Nail down with him what the primary goal of the site is. You can do this for each page too, each page should have a primary goal.

Then figure if the page or content is helping or hindering that goal. An unused News area with lots of old, sporadic posts is not going to support anything.

It doesn't matter what he wants on the site (giant logo, animated cat gif), what matters is what will speak to his customers, and you can support that with research, testing, and your industry experience.

Being clear, professional, and not apologetic, gets professional results back from clients. If they get too personal about their business and can't handle qualified critiques, it's probably someone who is better not to have as a client.


He just wants the feature so he can use it in the future if he ever needs it in my opinion.

Also, if you agreed on a quote for the first mockup, then you have the right to refuse to develop these sections or do them at additional costs. If you gave him a quote before defining what was going to be in the site, then it's your problem.

But finally, it's just a Wordpress blog. Just set him up the basic blog view without doing anything. If he asks for customization, just say there will be additional costs since it was not a planned feature since the beginning (if it was not of course).

  • oh no its not a wordpress, I just asked as rehortical question or maybe even literally, 'how do you expect this News to work?? with Wordpress?? Or maybe update the html with a new paragraph every day? That's what I meant. For the record, its MVC
    – Chillin'
    Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 14:58
  • Oh I see. One question though, was the MVC necessary? Could it has been done with Wordpress? (I'm not a WP evangelist btw, just asking... I too prefer to code my stuffs manually). I'm asking because I find it much more profitable to use WP with end customers because they always ask for more, more, more.
    – OncleDan
    Commented Feb 23, 2018 at 16:28
  • Great question. The simple answer is.. I'm not at all familiar with WP haha
    – Chillin'
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 11:49
  • @user6950100 give it a shot. Not that it is a pleasant framework or anything but from a business point-of-view, it'll allow you to give more and work less while making much more profit.
    – OncleDan
    Commented Feb 26, 2018 at 13:49

I think in such cases you should probably give your own suggestions right after you tell someone to change their approach, so to speak. Self-confident people tend to be impulsive, that is why you must provide some proofs to assure them in your point. Something like "if you do that - you'll have that, you don't want to look that way, right?" Tell him you see the website not only as a website developer, but also as a consumer.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.