6 Web Design Clients I’ll Never Work With Again


As a freelance web designer (and marketing consultant as well) I have come across my fair share of unpleasant clients.  When you first start out as a designer (especially if you’re broke) you’re a lot more likely to accept work from clients who might turn out to be a waste of time, a risk to your bottom line or just plain out of their mind.  Over the past few years, I have had the unfortunate pleasure of dealing with an interesting mix of “client types” that I have told myself I will never work for again.

The beauty of being a freelance web designer is that you are given the ability to pick and choose your clients.  You can setup a meeting, hear the details of a project and determine if the project (and more than anything, the client) is something you want to work on.  Over the years, I have learned the hard way that there are certain types of clients and projects that I should stay away from, but for the love of money made the mistake of saying yes to, which I would later come to regret.  The following is my list of web design clients that I will never, ever work with again.

The Idea Leech

idea-thief_12121The idea leech is a unique individual.  More often than not, this person considers himself a visionary, and has come up with an idea that they are 100% positive will make them (and you, sometimes) millions.  The part that you’ll find out shortly is that while they may have come up with a vague idea, they have absolutely no idea how to make it work and generally can’t give you details about it.  This wonderful individual might remind you of that cousin of yours who calls himself an inventor but comes up with ideas like “a toilet that’s also a treadmill.”

The idea leech will continue to text, email and call you hoping you can give them ideas on how to make their project work.  They will constantly try to pick your brain to give them ideas on what their next step should be, how to make their current idea work, and of course will expect all of this to be done free of charge.  This person will generally have a project in mind, with no business plan, and will want you to help them develop every detail of their idea whether you have expertise in the area or not.

The Share Sharer

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This person has a great business idea that the world needs to hear about, and wants you to join the team to help get their idea off the ground, and they want you to do all of it without any compensation whatsoever.  The thing that makes this person unique is that they will promise you one of two things.

  • A share in the companies future profits
  • Some fraction of ownership in the company at a later date.

While I’ve never actually made the mistake of working on a project like this, I have been sought after on numerous occasions to complete work at no charge, with only the promise of tremendous success and profits at a later date as compensation.

The Love Guru

love01This person has found that online dating sites don’t work, and wants you to help them create the newest, most awesome dating website ever.  What this person doesn’t realize, of course, is that the internet is completely saturated with online dating websites that cover every conceivable niche imaginable.

The Love Guru will likely want you to create a complete social networking site, geared towards finding love in their local area, and will expect it to function exactly as they imagined it would.  The best part about this type of client is that they will almost always under value the amount of work that goes into building this type of website, and will be completely offended when you throw a number their way that’s higher than $200.

The Cheapskate

cheap_bastard_t_shirt-re99850a33fc944488439238217edeb7c_804gs_512The cheapskate has absolutely no idea what web design is, how it works, or what goes into building a website.  All they know is that they saw a Web.com commercial that said they can build a website for free, so whatever price tag you throw at them will be taken as an insult and countered with something that might make you want to punch yourself repeatedly.

In general, the cheapskate will come to you wanting a website, usually something that borders on insanely-complex with features matching every website they’ve ever heard of, and they want it done for about $150.  Not enough? Too bad sir, because she has a nephew who said he would do it for $100, so you can take the offer that’s on the table or not.

The Jack of All Trades Web Designer

knowitallcat128551724867326215This particular person is without a doubt the absolute most pain in the ass client a web designer can ever work with.  They seem to forget the fact that they not only sought out but hired a web designer to complete a project for them, and take it upon themselves to intervene at every step of the process with changes, “better ways of doing things” and of course, the latest and greatest web design techniques.  This type of client is generally a fan of the marquee tag, and may or may not have built a website on Geocities or Homestead in the past.

Should you happen to encounter this type of client, it’s suggested that you either invest in several thousand shares of BC Powder stock or run as if you were an extra in a zombie apocalypse movie.  That is, of course, unless you just love working with someone who specializes in making your life difficult.

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Anyone from Freaking Craigslist

Finally comes the reason that I nearly stopped working as a freelance web designer and went back to working at Lowe’s.  Anyone who has ever started trying to snag web design clients has undoubtedly attempted to grab a project or two off of Craigslist.  I have to admit that for the first year or two, the majority of the business I did was either referral based or something I snagged off of this site.  I occasionally picked up an Adwords campaign or someone who wanted a Facebook app setup, but the majority of the projects I did get were web design gigs.

If you haven’t guessed by now, the worst part about this last client type is that they have the potential to fill one or more of the various client types I’ve mentioned above.  In the end, I have to admit that if it wasn’t for my Craigslist clients, I would not have learned anything about the sides of this business and the types of “entrepreneurs” in my area than I would have had I not run ads on Craigslist.

If you ever, ever feel the need to get a bit of spare cash, give Craigslist a shot.  Be forewarned, I will not accept responsibility for the hate that might build up in your heart if you accept a Craigslist web design gig.  If you do, please come back to this post and share your experience in the comments.

Have you worked with any of these web design clients? Have a new one to add to the list? Share your experiences by leaving a comment!

Taylor Clark is a web designer, internet marketing expert and blogger from Gonzales, LA. Taylor has been working with small business owners and entrepreneurs to improve their online marketing strategy through use of social media, website marketing, PPC advertising and much more.

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1 Comment

  • Gary Hickman
    March 6, 2015 at 12:42 AM

    Hi Taylor
    I loved this article, It was like looking through my old website design order book. I also came across “Mr No Money”

    This person sets up a business with absolutely no money and is keen to tell you this from the start. They also imply that it is your duty to help. Once they get that off their chest they proceed to show you their three feet long brief. Everything they need done is easy and will not take long (according to them) their idea is worth millions and you can have the privilege of including a link at the bottom of the website saying your the fool that did this for nothing. They will also send you loads of customers, who will be just like them. What’s worse is it took me at least ten websites to spot them coming 🙂

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