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Agency nightmares

Agency nightmares
Lauren Og A Lauren Irwin Profile

Lauren Irwin

The client isn’t always right.

There we’ve said it… and we’re not afraid to continue to question the creative briefs that come through our studio either. Why? We think it’s important that we don’t just say yes. That’s not helpful to anyone. We don’t do it to be obstructive, we do it so our clients receive the best possible service and to ensure the end result is something we can both be proud of.

In the spirit of Halloween and thinking of some of the “horrors” that have come our way throughout our time in and out of agencies, we’ve pulled together some of the most feared requests that have popped up in digital briefs that have haunted us ever since.

Buckle yourselves in, chaps. You’re in for a scary ride...

Criminal with Comic Sans

Are you a Primary School teacher? Does your target audience fall in a demographic of 4-8 year olds? Then no, you shouldn’t be using Comic Sans. Have you ever suggested using it to a designer? Simple answer is, don’t. They’ll self-combust. Comic Sans is a playful, fun font but it’s never considered serious outside of lunch box labels.

As casual as it might look, it’s not user friendly for the web and its mismanaged letters will leave potential customers horrified. Simply put your content won’t be read. Did you know the font was originally intended for talk bubbles for Microsoft software? Well, guess what. It never made it and wasn't even finished on time. Eventually it was introduced with Windows 95. That’s right, folks. Ninety-five.

The 90’s might be back in fashion but Comic Sans needs to stay at the bottom of the jumble sale. Forever.

The Hidden Stakeholder

All good horror films have the threat of something lurking in the background. You can feel someone there but they never appear until the end. The suspense kills you and so does the hidden stakeholder.

Let us set the scene. Imagine this...

You’ve gone through the whole process with your client. End-to-end. You’ve hit a few bumps in the road, the occasional unexpected obstacle but right there at the finish line just before you collect £200 for passing go, the hidden stakeholder drops a bombshell. It’s a project manager's worst nightmare.

Sometimes they throw a spanner in the works for one simple reason; they weren’t involved. Everyone likes to have an opinion on something important. They like the kudos at the end. The solid pat on the back from their manager. However, it’s often the case that it’s disruptive and detrimental to the whole project.

Be open. Share. Be proud of the process from start to finish. Don’t be afraid to show those that are further up the funnel the unfinished product. It’ll save you and your agency a lot of time, energy and budget.

Budget Busting

We hate asking about it. The client hates talking about. We all find ourselves in a never ending circle of being incredibly British and polite… though I think we can all agree on the gist of the conversation.

Agency: “What’s your ballpark budget?”

Client: “We haven’t set a budget. Just quote for the work we’ve asked for.”

The agency then spends a week pulling together a detailed proposal based on the discussion. The blood, sweat and tears are wiped away and the proposal is presented.

Client: “...but that’s double our budget!!”

Honestly, it’s fine to tell an agency the budget. It’s helpful. We’re able to create a better proposal from it and we’ll be able to detail a scope of work for the amount you’re able to spend. We won’t be sat rubbing our hands together with pound signs in our eyes. We just want to do the best for what your budget allows.

I Designed It On PowerPoint

Microsoft PowerPoint old buddy, old pal. We’d like to say long time no speak but you often come back to frighten us like a thrown-out toy we thought was possessed. Let’s make one thing clear. PowerPoint by definition is slide presentation software. It’s not for designing websites to bring to a designer on a project.

It’s for the best that web pages haven’t been cleaved from previous site iterations. It’s like a knife to a designer’s creative heart. It often sets expectations that can’t be developed toward a much better outcome. UX designers create journeys with user experience in mind. They’ve been doing it a long time. Trust them. Explain your goals, your objectives, and let them create a beautiful experience that’s going to engage your audience.

Be kind. Let the designer do the design. They like it.

It’s CMS’able... Is It Though?

Envisage a world where a client can manage their own website content. A website that’s been developed with bespoke areas and pages that are easily customisable. Imagine the back-end of a website that’s simple and easy to navigate. It’s a beautiful thought and it’s also possible. It’s real.

Clients can be trained with ease to use a CMS. It’s slick, it’s responsive and it’s down right fast. Then, when it’s all done and dusted, signed off and live… that’s when someone walks over a developer’s grave. That’s when we see them cowering in the corner.

“Can you change the headline text to this?

“Can you add in a text block?”

“Can you change an image in the hero banner?”

But… but… it’s a content management system… the client can do it themselves. Aaarrrgghhhhhh!

You might have heard a few other choice phrases...

“We want it to look the same but, y’know, different.”

“Clean and modern.”

“We want the content to be able to breathe.”

“We need this to work on IE6”

“Disruptive and dynamic.”

“These changes shouldn’t take long.”

Don’t get us wrong… it’s not all from the client side. You’d be surprised what we hear internally too. Our favourite is from one of our developers (who creates bespoke applications) when he was asked by a colleague about his knowledge of free website builders. That’s just like asking a carpenter that handcrafts furniture about the IKEA catalogue…

We all get it wrong sometimes...

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