Thu. Aug 07, 2008
The One In Which I Hire Myself
I rarely discuss clients in any way on this site, but I thought I’d share this conversation. Please understand, I’m not normally nearly this rough with clients, but this guy can be a real butthead at times.
Client: Hey, I need to get you to work on my site, ASAP.
Designer: Well, you know our deal. When I have absolutely no paying work, only then do I have time for your site. And these days, I’m turning down any work that has a deadline less than a month out.
Client: OK, let me put it this way: I screwed up my web site, in a way I’ve never seen before. I don’t know how I did it, and I don’t know how to fix it. So it’s not just another “please-oh-please devote some time to a redesign of my site,” this is an emergency.
Designer: An emergency? Is your web site on fire, or are there any lives at risk? Even a cute kitty up a tree?
Client: Um … no.
Designer: Then it’s not an emergency. For future reference, if there’s not a fire truck or an ambulance involved, you can be pretty sure it’s not an emergency.
Client: Well, if you really think setting the server on fire will get this done any quicker, I guess I’m willing to try it…
Designer: No, no, no [sigh] what exactly did you do before this problem started.
Client: Well, late last night I was piddling around with an idea for a new layout, and I swear, I was using a testing template in Textpattern, and it called a static stylesheet with a name that isn’t used anywhere else. And then I went to bed. Today, that style sheet is what shows up when you click any link from the home page.
Designer: I see. And how many times have I told you about your late night site diddling?
Client: I know, but I swear, I was careful, and this is weird.
Designer: What version of Textpattern are you running now, 4.0.6?
Designer: Excuse me?
Client: 4.0.4. I know, I know, but I, I mean, you have been busy.
Designer: Um, yeah. Well, I’ll take a peak to see if there’s some fix for your current problem, but the first thing we need to do is upgrade your Textpattern installation to the latest and greatest. Then maybe we can get back to your testing template and a new layout.
Client: No, I don’t want to do that. While I have your hands on the site, I want you to go ahead and do it.
Designer: Do what, exactly?
Client: Do that upgrade thingy, and then rather than fix what’s there, just start over with all new templates and a new layout.
Designer: But … but, we need to do it on a testing template, because I know how, um, selective you can be about what you like, and I don’t think you want you audience to see my incremental mess, I mean, incremental progress.
Client: Audience? I did mention my site is borked? How much worse can it get? Even with the home page working, the design is two years old.
Designer: No it isn’t, we redesigned it last summer.
Client: It was the summer before last.
Designer: Oh. You’re right.
Client: Yes, you have been ignoring me. Feel sufficiently guilty now so you’ll just do what I ask?
Designer: No, but I’ll humor you by asking what kind of “new layout” you think you want. This time. What is this, the 47th redesign for this site? And please don’t tell me you want to make it look even older and more weathered than last time.
Client: Hey, I’m turning 50 next month, trust me, old and weathered is out. No, I like that trendy new look, what do they call it … um, you know, the sites where they say it’s all about the fonts and the whites and the minimal lists.
Designer: You mean the typography and the white space? And “minimalist”?
Client: Yeah, whatever. But I figured that stripped down minimal lists thing would be really quick for you to do, right? I mean, how hard can it be?
Designer: Hard enough that you apparently borked your site trying it with your late night diddling. You’re sure that you’re going to be happy with me stripping your site naked, flat out breaking it at times, and doing it all in front of the whole world?
Client: Putting it that way almost sounds kinky, but, yes, that’s what I want. And I want lots of fonts.
Designer: You’re well known for that, but please be more specific.
Client: I want you to use Comic Sans for the twitters that are pulled in.
Designer: You’re kidding. You realize that Comic Sans is considered a font joke, and is even hated intensely by some.
Client: I know. It appeals to my ironic nature, in fact, use “Marker Felt” as the Mac alternate, I know that one really pisses Zeldman off. So, I want you to at least show it to me. And then you can beat me up over how ugly it looks and make me change my mind. Just like Old Times.
Designer: I hope you’re getting treatment for that selective memory you’ve developed. Listen, I don’t even want to contemplate how long this is going to take, never mind eat the time it would take to provide an estimate. But one day isn’t going to cut it. That might get the basic layout and home page template done. But you’ve got this Ponderosa of a site with a forest of templates, and not a Little Joe, Hoss, or Hop Sing in sight, just me.
Client: Yes, those 3959 articles and 7741 comments collected over seven years are my “estate,” and if you damage a binary pair in any of my 11,700 children, I’ll have your hide!!!
Designer: Shut up with the threats and go backup your database, Grandpa. I’ll see if I can clear the decks for Friday. And then I’ll fiddle with it over the weekend.
Client: Sure, while you watch the Olympics and the Falcons. Well, I want a strict accounting of what you’re doing, a log, and screenshots.
Designer: Gee, that’ll make the job go so much quicker, would you also like PDF’s so you can print it out for review? Never mind, let me get back to paying work…
Client: Wait, don’t you want to hear how I want to show more twitters than one, and how I want to change the photo display, and…
Designer: Trust me. I already know.