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Too many cooks?

Hope you don't mind me picking brains, I don't really expect you guys to do my work for me but wondered if anyone might like to put in there 2 pence worth.

I have a client that I've been given the order to re-do their website. The current site is heading towards 4 years old and was designed before I joined the company. Although it wasn't live at the time. I inherited the design and 'finished it off' and it was the first job I put live when I joined.

I've built up a good relation with the customer over the years but I've never really liked the design.

I gave it a refresh about a year or so ago, removed the round corners, drop shadows and gradient backgrounds etc. to bring it a little up to date which helped. But overall it's showing it's age now.

The main problem is it's a fairly large company that offer lots of services, the 'old boys' on the committee - there's a board of 12 senior partners, that although won't be involved in the process as that's with the marketing manager, they will have overall say and will want to be heard - they want to showcase ALL their offerings, and as a result the home page is filled with boxes, containing a representative image and link to each service. There's currently 12 main sections, but it's been identified that some are actually missing!!

I want to direct them down a path of not hanging out all their washing for all to see, it's too confusing and just baffles the visitor. But rather I want to engage with the visitor in the very first instance with a simple question along the lines of

"what service are you looking for?"​

And then some kind of simple selection/filter process.

Initial feedback is that's a no go and they want to dig their heels in, I'm going to analyse their in page analytics and prove these links aren't being used. And I need to put forward a case for me proposed solution. But just wondered if anyone fancied sharing an opinion or had an alternative solution for any similar conundrums?

Thanks in advance, Tim.
Im in a similar situation with a job I'm currently pricing up. I'd say show them the stats etc but if they are going to dig there heels in then I'm afraid you will have to do the best you can or re-pitch your ideas in a way that seems as though you giving them what they want but in fact your doing it the way you intended.

I'd say 99.9% of the work i do before designing for a client is a bafflement and bullshit consultation as once you've convinced them, it's normally plain sailing but you do get the occasional storm lol


Staff member
From experience it sound like a no win situation Tim.

I've been there loads and very rarely have I won them over.
I've learned that sometimes I've had to suck it up and churn out the crap that they want even though I know it's not in their best interests as sticking to your guns can compromise the relationship with the client and/or employer.

In my last job the MD hired in 'experts' in and too afraid to let go of the reigns, he just told them what to do and how to do their job.
A point in case being a marketing/SEO guy. He's set up campaigns by day and the MD would go in at night and tinker with it and mess up everything he'd done.
I even branded the entire company a certain way, top to bottom (against my advice) only to have to re-do it once a successful business man told him the same as I'd said.

Fact is that some people WONT listen to sense. :(

Sean Lee-Amies

It's a tough one. I wouldn't like to work on a project where I was being paid to create something that's not actually going to help either the client or my portfolio - it's in no ones best interest, especially not the businesses', except for one, or one groups egos, as you say in this instance, the old boys club... I've crashed and burned a couple of times when dealing with that type of group, I've had a few successes but they can be incredibly difficult.

If you want to send us over a link, it would be much easier for us to provide suggestions - and if you want I can move this over to the private forum section just in case. I don't really know the situation, so feel free to clear anything up for me.

The problem with this situation is that the client may think they know more/better than you and it can be very difficult to reverse that perception. Really in this line of work, it pays to have strong sales and negotiation skills, those who do will end up with much more successful projects! Problem with this group, is that it can be very hard to truly understand what their goals are, and cut through all the hidden agendas. Perhaps it's not that bad, but if it is, then your task is to make them realise that firstly, you are a professional and that you know what you're doing and secondly that you are on their side!

There are different ways of going about it, but it will require a level of professional confrontation. It's too easy to just give in to client demands, which is really bad for them and even worse for their business. What's the point of building them a new site if it's not going to actually work for them? It can work, unless they pull the "We're hiring you, just do as we say" card.

Need to really find out why they are opposing the ideas - is it really because they just want to be heard? Do they genuinely feel, due to their experience, that they know what they're talking about? What's the real issue at play here? It's easier to find a solution when you know exactly what the problem is - and it would be very hard to give the right advice without knowing more!

Some times a couple of quick interactive presentations can help. They can absolutely show off all their services, just not all at the same time - we know why. For example, in a meeting you could present them with a task based activity where they force them into making a decision in the same way the web visitors would have to based on what they want to implement. That will actually make them feel and understand why it's a bad idea, rather than you having to try and explain everything.
The added complication to this is I don't think I'll actually get the chance to be in front of the 'old boys' as I'm dealing with the marketing team who will then go on to submit the designs to the board. The benefit is the people I'm dealing with are switched on enough to get behind my views and opinions on this. But I need to make them really understand the concept so that they can present my design with confidence on my behalf.

I've done some digging around at their in page analytics and can make a point that the areas they consider so important are not actually the areas the visitors are interested in. With some areas driving less than 1% of click throughs.

I also think I may come up with a solution that takes advantage of the modern attitude to scrolling. long scrolling pages don't seem to be such an issue these days, especially with big swipes on a touch screen whizzing you down to the bottom. So perhaps I can still do the big overkill show of "THIS IS EVERYTHING WE DO" but lower down the page, dare I say, beneath the fold!

And still adopt my "how can we help... " style service finder at the top of the page, with a "sell all" anchor. With a CSS3 transition this could actually work really well.

I'll let you know how it goes :)
scotty said:
In my last job the MD hired in 'experts' in and too afraid to let go of the reigns, he just told them what to do and how to do their job.
I read something once - Never be afraid to hire someone better than you! And I've always completely agreed with this statement. I know an MD who "knows it all", and is too afraid to let the experts do their job. I don't understand why they are such control freaks. In my experience, it always ends up going wrong. I'm on one last job for said MD and after that, no more. I'd rather no business from their end and no stress from having to churn out what they tell me to. :)


Staff member
iDesign said:
In my experience, it always ends up going wrong. I'm on one last job for said MD and after that, no more. I'd rather no business from their end and no stress from having to churn out what they tell me to. :)
Same here!

Just before the Scottish reform thing the aforementioned boss wanted an e-mail/newsletter going to all customers and put on the site.
They're a print on demand company and his idea was to have a guy with an English helmet with a Braveheart background.
On the t-shirt he wanted some slogan/message that would have offended and lost them their entire Scottish customer base (the wording evades me right now but pretty anti Scottish). o_O

I designed it for him against my advice and it wasn't until he'd been around the entire office getting the reaction "Erm...well....I wouldn't" and then slept on it he thought it was better to tone it down.

The guy wanted to appear a bit edgy in a cool way but couldn't see the difference between cool/edgy and nationalist/offensive.

Then again, he used to spout off in the office about "these gays" and "bloody immigrants" a lot too. :rolleyes: