Properly serving clients is by far one of my greatest challenges when it comes to doing Internet consulting. Where do you draw the line between doing what’s right and doing what a client requests? This specifically pertains to requests that go against good Internet practices.
Last year, I lost a prospective client because I took a hard stance on their request. In my professional opinion what they were requesting was not in line with their online goals or good web standards.
The person wanted me to do some Search Engine Optimization (SEO) work on their web site. Nobody could find their web site searching with Google. They insisted on having a Flash animation on their home page. At the time they had no back links or HTML text on the home page. Both of these are important to proper SEO. I told them it would be a liability doing all Flash on their home page without concentrating on back links, page titles, proper search keywords, and HTML text. They further insisted on Flash and I responded again with my concerns. I wasn’t about to take their money for something that would not benefit their business online. Because of my stance they decided to use someone else.
Many clients or perspective clients can get caught up on the latest and greatest Internet trinkets. Trinkets are synonymous with cool web sites. People see something neat or cool on a web site and want the same for their web site. My belief is that it is more important to have a useful web site rather than a "cool" web site. Google is our favorite example. There is nothing cool about Google, except that it is easy to use and is worth billions of dollars.
This forces me to ask the following: Are clients paying you to do what they request or are they paying for your skill and experience? When a client insists on doing something that won’t benefit their site what do you do?
You should always treat the customer professionally and provide them with the best service possible. Deliver them value in everything you do. But, I don’t believe you should do something the customer requests because they are “paying you to do work for them.”
Work with people who value your opinion and take your expertise for all it’s worth. My favorite clients are those who give honest feedback on our advice and willing to try new things with their web sites. They are also the same people whose sites outperform the sites of people demanding something their way.