Another designer trying to take over your project?

An ex-designer colleague of mine came to me the other night and asked me for some advice. He’s a freelance designer and has a set fee for a project he’s working on, but has ran into some trouble over the final design. This was his situation:

  • he was two months into a big project
  • the project involved one sole contact of the client
  • the project involved one developer, who also does design
  • all management and communication is through Basecamp
  • he is almost near the end of the project and the developer (who also does design) asks “hey, mind uploading the PSD? I want to try a few things…”

There’s two clear paths to take here in my opinion:

The worst: go crazy, get paranoid

State very clearly you want to control the design, it’s yours, hands off. Do it on Basecamp and in front of the client. Make sure you well and truly make the client regret hiring you.

The best: think it through

Approach the client 1-on-1 and tell him you’d rather not adhere to the developer’s request. You think you’re close on the design concept and want to follow through with what you’ve done. Then, once you have worked something out directly with the client post a positive reply essentially saying “I’ve discussed this with the client and think it would be best for me to remain 100% in control of the design, I should have something up shortly”.

3 Responses

  1. BGdesign

    Gotta love competition.
    Great post. Took a lot from this one.

  2. Ian O'Neill

    Similar thing happened to me 2 years ago, but mine was a horrible learning experience.

    I was nearing completion on a huge website project. I was the sole designer and developer, only one other server administrator was a secretary in the company. I had total autonomy. However, about a week before we were going live, I had a discussion with the owner of the company. He decided he wanted a YouTube-like social platform on top of the other tasks I was performing.

    This wasn’t part of the contract, so I mentioned I’d need more time and the contract would need to be modified. The following day, all my administrator privileges were gone and I received an email saying the company “had gone in a different direction”.

    Unfortunately, the client was out of state and I had only received a tiny fraction of the total pay for the work I had done.

    Now, I ensure contracts are water-tight and I rarely work with companies in a different jurisdiction (and I certainly make sure I meet with the owner face-to-face before starting a project). My problem was that I had a guise of total control, and had very little idea that I could be kicked out so quickly.

  3. Josh

    As somebody who does front-end development quite often, I can say that having a layered .psd file can be immensely helpful, even if I’m not planning on “trying a few things.” (Which I would never do to a designer… how awful!)

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