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Unusual Client Problem


Senior Member
I’ve been designing a website for a Mancunian pipeline company for several months now. It’s been a slow process because they have always been slow with the feedback at various stages but it got to a stage where all I needed was the content (text and photos) to complete the site. I had a few ‘very busy at the moment, get them to you asap’ emails but then my emails and calls were ignored. It’s the point where you start to get the lunging feeling in the stomach. After a couple of months I decided I would see what happened when I invoiced the company for the balance. Bizarrely a week later, a cheque for £800 arrives with a compliments slip, good stuff right? Wrong! A business page such as this contains the most valuable backlinks from this point of view, not to mention the traffic to their site and the potential click troughs.

As it stands my step into the industry is fledgling at best, but do large agencies have contract clauses that give active sites a value and thus say things like ‘If site is not active for a minimum for 12 months from day of completion, the agency reserves the right to charge an extra X%’. Because a live site is a commodity. Thoughts?


Active Member
Hi wac,

I think if I understand your post correctly the website, although not finished is publicly viewable?

I'm also assuming you have a contract with this company? I have found myself in this situation before, where the client simply goes quite/cold. If the lack of drive by your client to finalise on the project will effect the SEO etc then that's their problem, I would suggest you drop them another email and written confirmation to that effect and advise them, on the current state/position of the project and whats required next to sign off.

As for remuneration for a non completed/live project, I don't think think this is common practice, ultimately if your paid and settled up on the work undertaken, the client should be free to do what they like with the site (within reason), as it sounds as though this project is also important to you from a professional standpoint, I would contact them again and advice of the potential issues the current situation is having on both business and provide a course of action to rectify, ala remove the site from the public eye.

As long as you are not out of pocket, the ball is in their court, as long as your communication with them is crystal clear!




Senior Member
Hi Geoff,

I don't think I explained myself clearly. A live website has value for the designer. The back-links in the 'Site designed by" anchor text are the most valuable there are and it's likely these links may directly provide business via click throughs. So whilst it is unusual for a website to be paid for but not used by a client, logically the price quoted for the job should reflect the sustainability of the business model and thus take into account the tangible benefits listed above when coming up with a figure.

I guess an analogy that sort of fits is, if cans of Coke have an RRP of 60p, if they (for some reason) had to have plain unbranded cans, they would have to increase their price to compensate for the drop in exposure.
I see what you're saying but I don't think you'll ever get money for it. You're not being employed to promote yourself. The chances are they are pulling the plug because of financial restraints - and then you send them a bill because of this! Talk about rubbing salt in their wounds!!

Think of your link at the bottom of a clients site as a bonus not a right, because it's not.

It is however always annoying when a project you've put time and effort into doesn't go live/ into production.


Senior Member
I have to respectfully disagree. If you (just for the purposes of this debate) order business cards that are extremely cheap as they have the printers details on the back, you'll have the option to remove that ad for a price. What we are talking about is essentially advertising space and as such should be considered as a commodity. As a fledgling designer such things needn't be factored into a business model I suppose but for a larger business it would be extremely poor practice not to at least consider it. I'm not suggesting asking for more money, just pointing out a factor that should influence pricing.
What if the client would like the site to go live but wouldn't like your link at the bottom?! Would you add more into the quote for that? It would be difficult to do retrospectively.

The client in this instance is paying you (what they hopefully consider to be) good money for you to provide a service - they're not obliged to advertise the fact that you provided that service. I don't go to the hairdressers and feel obliged for them to shave their logo into the back of my head!

If SEO is important to you, and I mean this in a kind and respectful way - you should build your website in html over Flash. Also, get some of your latest work on there that you have in your Behance portfolio!


Senior Member
You're kind of right in that you wouldn't want to do it retrospectively which is why it would ultimately be necessary to have it in the small print as I originally noted. Understand that I'm making a point about the industry, not my individual case, so my portfolio not being up to date is neither here nor there. I made the point because I think it is very easy and maybe even necessary for sole traders to overlook this but I think it would be naive not to acknowledge it as a commodity, even if you don't take steps to protect it litigiously.

Have a look at this, its a design studio that offers web design services whose website is built by a different agency, I think if the matter is as trivial as you think it is, Waterman would remove the link. And this is just one example I stumbled upon.
The portfolio bit was a side note as you seem to have some nice work in there that isn't on your site!

I agree that it is valuable - but I don't think it is chargeable, or really demandable (in the sense that if they don't let you have your link at the bottom of their site that you won't do the work). It's the same scenario with showing the site you've designed in your portfolio - if they demand they're not comfortable with it, then you have to live with it. Otherwise you could have small print in the contract stating that you wish to use it in your portfolio and will add your link to the bottom of the site.


Senior Member
I'm currently redesigning the site at a fairly relaxed pace ;) Regarding the portfolio thing, that's one of the very few clauses I do put into my agreements as you're right it is much the same thing.
You have to remember its purely optional from a clients point of view whether or not they want to credit the designer on their website or work in general. Much of the time they might not have a problem with you putting your name on their site or printed brochure or whatever but at the same time they can easily refuse as its their website and their decision at the end of the day. You don't see a TV advert and then at the end it says 'Created by Agency X' for instance as with other numerous examples of design, branding and advertising across media. If the work is good people will find out who did it and come looking for you. As Chris mentioned being able to add your name at the bottom of the website is an added bonus, that is all.


Active Member
Hi Wac,

Sorry, I now understand better, however, as pointed out by the other replies in this thread, a link back to the designer/developer website is a perk, and not something that is a given in any commercial project.

As regards a live site being a commodity, well its a commodity IMHO for the business not the agency that has already been paid in full. Due to the organic nature of the web, assigning a monetary value to such a link is a crazy idea, and any business that see that they have a paid an agency x amount to do a job, then get charged with an x% on a yearly basis based upon +/- generated agency exposure .. is going to run a mile.

That being said, there is nothing to stop you from factoring in that x% markup into your quotations to cover the above points, but I wouldn't let your clients know :)




Senior Member
I don't think that's necessary at my level but it's important to understand the figures. I've been reading up on it and it appears the larger companies do use such clauses.I agree that hitting the customer with a tome of T&C's could be detrimental to the relationship, especially as they may have opted for a sole trader in the first place because it was a more casual thing. Likewise the bigger fish are wise to cover their bases.
I have in my terms and conditions that we reserve the right to put a link back to our site, any withdrawal request will be considered but may be subject to a withdrawal charge. To be honest I've never made much of an issue of it. However I have it in my terms and conditions as if I was working on a site that would bring a lot of traffic/ high profile I'd want the link or some financial gain for it's removal.
RussellHall said:
I have in my terms and conditions that we reserve the right to put a link back to our site, any withdrawal request will be considered but may be subject to a withdrawal charge. To be honest I've never made much of an issue of it. However I have it in my terms and conditions as if I was working on a site that would bring a lot of traffic/ high profile I'd want the link or some financial gain for it's removal.
Mine is similar. They get a discount for having the link, but they must pay that back if they remove the link (if the site layout is what I had designed).


Senior Member
I thought as much! Regarding this particular client I think I will just encourage them to finish the site, that way everyone is happy!


Active Member
Hay I have to admit I kinda disagree about the link back I mean if 6 months down the line they remove it anyway what you going to do?
Start legal proceedings and if they fight you honestly who's got the most cash and is it worth it really?

What if you do and thus lose repeat business it ends up being tied up in court for years and costs thousands to resolve?

The other option is what to check the site often?
SEO benefit is really not that great as the sites will be unrelated and if its a look at me kind of point then surely that should be down to the website. Last week I had some one contact a client wanting to know who did the site as they liked the look of it, how fast it loaded, its positions etc...but they couldn't find my contact details on the design. Point being I still got the work and i didn't have a link.

Regarding the client I wouldn't be in any rush to see if they want to finish/you get tied in for a long ride. If it's corporate/in multiple countries I will tell you exactly how it will go right now.

The marketing department will come up with the text this will go out to all lets say 8 directors. All 8 directors will say I want to have my mark on this change this to this and this to this. Then what happens is the marketing department then comes up with the next round of content and it goes back out and well you guessed it too many cooks back to the marketing department, back to the directors etc.... and then you may have one page in say a month.

If its in a different company/head office in Canada for example with 1 director same as a above, but the guy will have to find time to come up with the content send it to his/her boss to sign off on, then back to him/her, then when they have time revise and back to the boss, changed again and the joyful process goes on.

I really wish I had experiencing of this massive waste of time procedure. no wait I wish I didn't. Got 4 on at the mo. Every week same email, every week by the end of the week or working on it, next Monday comes any news or can I be of any assistance, yeah end of the week, working on it, next Monday comes....

Add up all the Mondays and it aint funny, so think long and hard about the type of company it is. It may also be down to legal reasons, as well that will take months if not years to resolve, got one of them we have just sodded off, 3 months back for that reason as that was over name rights. But if they paid you for the work, in a time like this I would be amazed if they didn't end up using it, and there are just things in the way, like content finalization and too many people, so there is no point in having you hanging around if they have someone inhouse who can make minor adjustments and you have completed your contractual agreement to them. :)