Recently I did a biiiiig mistake of starting a website project with out a formal contract! Damn!
Well for for my side of the argument I had worked with this particular client for 3 previous projects and thought well “I don’t think its really necessary in this case”
And again it was a very simple template driven WordPress website so started working on it excitedly.
Without going to much into the technical details, I selected a template and made a mockup and sent it to the client. Once that was approved I logged into the CPanel of the clients web hosting company, just to realise that the hosting package the client was using didnt support databases!!! (Have you ever heard anything like that before?) So in order to continue my work I would have to buy a higher package of hosting package!! As this action invloved spending extra money, I informed about the entire scenario to the client and she gets back to me saying that I don’t understand about what technical details you are trying to explain and I don’t even want to know about it but “this entire thing is getting too much delayed” (What? Hello I am trying to help you here!!)
I started having a bad feeling about this person but just discarded it and continued to work on the website. Now heres is something very funny, I suggested a few extra things on the website (as a marketing and design consultant I think its my duty to do that) like blogs, a mini form on the home page and a little extra information about her not so popular services etc. And she got back to me annoyed saying that “well so I am suddenly going to be a blogger on my website?” I said “not if you don’t want to! It was just a suggestion but I think that will bring traffic to your website.”
In this back and forth of ideas the website got delayed for a week. For that entire week the otherwise very nosy and “where is my website” client suddenly was very dormant and non-existent. Then suddenly at the end of the week I get an email from her saying that her “mentor” has suggested that because the website is delayed I should give a 40% off on the total cost of the website development!!! Wow some audacity!
Obviously I said I dont work like that and then a long trail of passive aggressive, sarcastic and legal sounding emails started. It was very funny that in the emails she constantly talked about deducting the agreed amount of money and over the phone she said that it was not her style. (mixed messages! Duh!)
To save you from the entire telephonic and email drama there came a point where I got really sick of her criticism, trying to extract the maximum work out of me and constant phone calls, in-spite of working more than a month over the site, I told her to take back her money and I didn’t want to work with her any longer.
Obviously she being herself threatened to take legal action against me as “the website legally belonged to her” (without paying the agreed amount). I said well go ahead and all the best with that
I consulted few of my fellow designers and programmers and got a very strong reinforcement that I was right and some (actually 70%) told me to not even return her money back. Well that was’nt me. And the client finally, after consulting hundreds of other “mentors” and “well wishers” realised that she didn’t have any case against me. I got an email from her with her bank details. I transferred whatever she had paid me till date and forgot about it. (well not exactly. that’s y I am writing this post!)
I lost many hours of work and a client (happy about that actually) but may never loose this lesson of not having a contract at the beginning of a website design project!
And btw guys the contract does not even have to be very formal or legally written. Even if it is a listed bullet points of services you would provide, money, time (always mention that it depends on things like client supplying the content, 3rd parties – like the hosting company here or any other unforeseen circumstances) with your company logo and both the parties signed, its enough!
Probably she is getting her website built form other designer. God help him / her!