Snake clients: how to know and avoid them

One might think that the worst thing that could happen to a web designer is to run out of projects. However, I –like many others – believe that there is something worse than this. If there’s someone who can make you regret not having work is the snake client. (In Italy we call they “snake customers” the customers really bad, but in english i don’t know)

Let’s look at the etimology:

Snake Client: It is a likable kind of client, he or she is not interest in having a website, a logo, business card or anything else that might be of interest to you. Their sole objective is to cling on to you and talk about their own problems.

Over the years, I’ve come to know very well this type of client. Since a community is built to share and discuss various arguments, I would like to offer you a detailed description of this special kind of human being.

Snake-like clients can be divided into the following categories:

The Rude individual: how to spot them

Distinctive traits:

  • Incapable of expressing himself properly
  • Lack of judgment, especially in distinguishing between something good and something bad. Attracted to anything that looks amateurial or aesthetically lacking.

Common phrases:

  • I would like a website that has a nice jingle* in the background di sfondo [*jingle being a heavy metal piece totally inappropriate]
  • Please can you add rotating, pulsating, blinking text – and any other type of useless additions that one can think of.
  • Please put a fluorescent background. This is the shade of my favorite football team…

Our advice:

Trying to convince this type of client to do otherwise is almost futile Statistically, it’s more likely that you will end up loving animated gifs and rotating texts rather than the other way around. And, at the end of the day, the client will prevail, feeling happy and you will be provided with your fee even though you will never admit that the site was your own work. This should not bring about any consequences. I repeat, should.

The Penniless One: how to spot this individual

Distinctive traits:

  • This type of client starts with complaints, of every kind. You know, this is a time of crisis, it’s really hard to earn a living, it’s all because of the euro.
    This is the mother of all stereotypes, only concerned with his or her financial problems.
  • This client’s budget for a logo? $5, with a receipt, obviously.
  • The client tells you that his cousin’s best friend was able to get this same service, ten times cheaper.
  • Since the client has paid for a service, he or she demands that any other service fee will be provided at no additional cost. This is presumptuous, as the client believes we can be of total service without considering fees.
  • The client can delay payment, paying in $10 rates that can take a year to receive in full.

Common phrases:

  • I still owe you money? Sorry I forgot, can I pay you next week?
    Make sure to establish an EXACT payment date. This is to avoid your client delaying paying, week after week, until he finally shows up after 6 months.
  • Look, I’m kind of busy right now, I have to meet someone important.
    Someone must explain to this client that an internet website or an illustrated brochure are NOT indispensable, one can do without. That’s why they’re called additional services. If the client can afford it, then it’s all good. Otherwise, don’t let them wear you out and avoid them.

Our Advice:

Work with these type of clients only if you have to. Even if they are problematic, clients will end up paying. Also, it can be instructive to see what kind of requests people can be tempted to ask, and the range of excuses they can come up with for not paying on time.

In the next part of this topic we will look at: The annoying one and the maniac..
Did you ever run across clients that fit this description? Don’t hesitate to share your experiences with us!


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The Author

Web designer, has been working in the field of graphics and web development for six years and at the moment besides collaborating with a web agency successfully manages her freelance activity under the name of mascara design. Like many freelancers she is used to handling more roles, ranging from paper graphics to the development of html and css codes; nonetheless this passion of hers remains, always and however, web graphics.

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