If you do any type of creative work, you may run into an issue of being asked to do a revisions, or even multiple ones. There are many schools of thought on whether you should offer revisions of your design work or not. Some creatives feel as if their work should be appreciated as is, while others don’t mind doing as many revisions as it takes to fully to satisfy the client.
We live in a customer service based world, where much of our reputations are based on what people say about us. With social media and the efficiency of communication these days, unhappy clients can easily say things about us that can negativity effect our brand. How do we insure that the integrity of our work is maintained and appreciated, all while keeping clients happy? Its a thin balance to strike, but something that must be considered and a part of your contract prior agreeing to client work.
Define & State Your Terms Via Contract
The safest way to approach revisions is to have your terms for them clearly defined and stated in your contract. As a business owner, you have to protect yourself and the integrity of your work, and having a contract is a surefire way. Additionally, when clients know that they’ve agreed to a certain amount of revisions in signing the contract, they are more likely to think long and hard about the details of the creative work you are doing for them. I’ve made the mistake in the past of trusting clients too much, not even thinking I needed a contract, and being caught up on doing multiple (and when I say multiple I mean MULTIPLE!) revisions. Revisions can be a huge time suck, and if clients think they have unlimited revisions, they can definitely take advantage of you.
This is one reason why I feel its essential that your contract contain a few keys things in regards to revisions to protect you from this happening as well:
1. Whether you offer revisions and under what circumstances that you do.
2. The number of revisions you will do for the project.
3. The amount of money you will charge for revisions.
4. The scope of what is included in the revisions you provide.
5. The timeframe for which you will accept revision requests.
You want to know prior to beginning a project that the client understands that this is not an opportunity for them to request multiple changes throughout the course of the project. When you receive a project, the client needs to state to the best of their abilities their visions for it, expected results, and any other pertinent information that will allow you bring their idea to life. Some people think that they can hire someone to create something that they don’t even have a clear vision for. Its your job to work through this with them early on, so that both of you can come to common ground on the project before you even start work. You should be able to tell the client exactly what you will be doing and how you will approach the project.
Timeframes, Tweaks, & the Truth
At times, clients may not recognize that they are asking for multiple revisions, because they may feel that many of their requests are small things that just take a second to complete. Truth be told, things rarely take a “second” to revise. It never fails that on our end something will come up and will take us twice as long to get that revision done that we anticipated. All the more reason that you should be properly and fairly compensated for your time to make those changes. As a web designer and developer, I ran into this issue all too often and it was extremely frustrating. Sometimes it really did take a “sec” to tweak something and other times it took much longer than expected, and doing that one change resulted in me getting behind on other projects. Staying on track and using our time wisely is so important as creatives, and can make the difference between us running an efficient business or not.
So do I believe you should offer revisions? Absolutely, but I feel you should definitely charge for them and lay out specific terms about them in all of your contracts for projects. Even if you’re doing free work or work for a friend, you need to communicate the difference between a revision and a complete overhaul. Many times, people get really confused thinking they are asking you for something small or a simple revision, when what in actuality they are asking you is for a completely new design. I encourage you to not make the same mistakes I’ve made in the past, not protecting yourself, because clients will continue to take advantage of you. The word gets out, and next thing you know potential clients are expecting the same treatment as previous clients, because its what they heard from them. Its a hard and vicious cycle to break, so taking the time to include your terms on revisions can save you the headache. Personally, I go ahead and include my revision terms on the information page for the services. This way, potential clients can already know what they are before they even inquire about my services.
Here are some of the ways you can encourage clients to fully think about a project once you have agreed to take them on:
1. Provide them with a questionnaire or homework about the project.
2. Meet with them in person or via online conference to discuss the details of the project.
3. Ask them to provide you with what they are/have been inspired by for the project.
4. Keep the lines of communication open as you work on the project, so that they feel comfortable telling you about new ideas that may come up as you work on the project.
5. Show your clients progress on the project or provide proofs as you work on the project, so they can give you feedback on throughout the process.
By taking these steps you can mitigate having to make numerous changes upon or near completion of a project. For one, you will have a clear idea of what the clients expects and they will be able to see or hear about things with the project as they are occurring. You want to keep your clients as updated as you can, in as much of real-time as possible.
There is nothing wrong with providing revisions for your work, but your time and skill level need to be respected. The integrity of your work should be respected as well, and never comprised. Throughout the course of the project, both the client and you should be able to get a vibe for how things are going and if they are going in a direction that is going to result in a successful product. The client shouldn’t feel like they’ve have had to comprise heavily, nor should you. The feelings about the overall project should be mutual and good. As the person being hired to execute the project you should feel like you have a good grasp on it, and so should the client. Having a clear picture makes the client and you more comfortable about taking it on, and that level of confidence is key in deterring the need to excessive revisions.
Doing Your Due Diligence
We should always strive to make our clients happy, but we have to do our due diligence ahead of time to insure our happiness. When we can work without feeling that some doesn’t like or appreciate our work, we work at our best. Your best is what you should always be striving to give your clients. Its when we don’t have or haven’t been provided with a clear vision of the idea for project that we can not supply our clients with our best work. Revisions should be few and far between, and its essential that you be able to decipher when its time for an overhaul if the project has gone in a direction in which the client isn’t happy with.
If you have done everything they have asked, and satisfaction still hasn’t been accomplished you need to be able to decide if the project should continue with you or end. Unfortunately, there may be times when no matter how much we want a happy client (and the money), at the end of the day its just not going to happen. The best you can do is be honest, offer a new course of action, or if need be a referral out to someone else. Clients appreciate openness, honesty, and professionalism, so you should strive to have the relationship with them remain cordial, despite the project not going the direction you both thought it would.
How do you deal with design work revisions? – Do you have a set policy in place that you relay to your clients?