5 Kinds of Clients That Make Me Want to Throw Myself in Front of a Bus

Admittedly, this is a self-indulgent post that gives me an excuse to whine about the small number of, shall we say… frustrating? clients whom I’ve had to deal with over the years as a web designer. It may not offer a whole lot of advice, information or even wit, but it will certainly be therapeutic. For me, I mean.

At the very least, maybe another designer out there will be able to pick up on some warning signs in the future and/or derive some ideas about how to deal with difficult clients.

That said, this really applies to a SMALL number of clients I’ve worked with. But that minority sure seems to take up a disproportional amount of my time…

1. Paranoid Manic Psycho

I’m not sure if this “type” of client is common or frequent enough to be counted as a “type,” but I have had more than one. Paranoid Manic Psycho may or may not be on meds, but definitely should be. He’ll be generous and pay you up front and say “Let’s see what you can do!” and then flip out because you haven’t done what he wants. He’ll enthusiastically show you his own concepts for logos and then flip out because you’ve obviously stolen them and used them for another site. He’ll throw accusations at you one minute and praise you the next.

This client is literally a nightmare. Even if you are a newbie designer, if you suspect Paranoid Manic Psycho has contacted you to design his site or logo, run far, far away.

2. Cheap-Ass Stingy Bastard

Now this one I know counts as a “type.” Sure, he’s not officially referred to as Cheap-Ass Stingy Bastard, but don’t tell me you’re not thinking it. He will question every single penny you charge and argue about the value of EVERYTHING: your designs, your SEO, your content, your time, your house and maybe even your dog. It doesn’t matter how low a price you give him for a logo, it’s never low enough.

The optimal strategy for dealing with Cheap-Ass Stingy Bastard is to start out charging high so you can bring the price down without working for minimum wage — except for the glaring problem that it requires knowing he’s Cheap-Ass Stingy Bastard upon him hiring you. Which isn’t always possible. But, if you find out too late, just start taking things off the table. Oh, you think that’s too high? Sorry, do your own SEO then. Still too high? Guess you don’t want any content either.


RIGHT NOW DAMMIT!! Guy will force you to go without sleep for 3 months in order to meet his deadlines. He cares not that you may have a life outside of repairing and completing hours upon hours of terrible code. He wants everything completed by last week. RIGHT NOW DAMMIT!! Guy isn’t all bad, because he can often be a recurring client, and he pays promptly and without question, but he can be a serious pain in the ass.

4. Mr. How-About-You-Do-Some-Work-For-Free?

I really hate this guy. And if he ended up being a client anyway, I wouldn’t, but nine times out of ten, Mr. How-About-You-Do-Some-Work-For-Free bails when I say, “Sorry, I don’t provide sample work on spec.” I try to be polite when dealing with them, but… c’mon, seriously! Do pharmacists give people the first 10 pills free? Do lawyers draw up your first contract for free? Does a landscaper landscape half of your backyard for free?

Asking me for “example designs” of a logo concept is no different. Also, I happen to know that Mr. How-About-You-Do-Some-Work-For-Free is an interdisciplinary client. He also asks freelance writers to give him “writing samples” based on his requests, and for a free hour of “evaluation” consultation.

5. This-Is-A-Good-Opportunity-For-You Client

This client is similar to #4, except much more presumptuous. And less honest. I mean, at least Mr. How-About-You-Do-Some-Work-For-Free is straightforward about asking you to work for free. You’ll hear things from this particular client like “We can’t pay you, but as a major brand it will look great in your portfolio” or “We’ll link to your site in lieu of payment” or “We can’t pay anything now, but once the site makes money, you’ll be given a nice stipend” or any number of statements along those lines.

Does This-Is-A-Good-Opportunity-For-You Client think if he brags about his “major brand” enough that I won’t notice that his brand is obviously not awesome, because if it were, he could pay me? With money? Yeah… not the sharpest frustrating client.

Well, there you have it. If you have not enjoyed this little list in any way, that’s okay. At least I feel a little better.

About the author

Lexie Lu

Hello! My name is Lexie and I have a fervor for design, writing, and coffee. I graduated with a dual major in Creative Writing and Commercial Design, and through those grueling study hours (facilitated by coffee, of course) I always found time to write for myself.

My posts feature design trends throughout all industries and show how the field is always changing. There’s never a dull moment in the design world!

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