Everyone wants to control their own destiny. For web designers, this means layouts that look good, code that works as intended, and customers that pay on time.
While we may wish for each of these things, the reality is usually different. Layouts are not always pixel-perfect, code breaks and clients – yes, they are human.
But it goes even further. The deeper you look, the more situations you will discover that are beyond your control.
This is especially hard for those of us who stick to both our business and projects. When something is outside our sphere of influence, it is easy to get frustrated. And it can hurt pretty much every aspect of your work. It can even sneak into your personal life.
This is why the ability to cope with these situations is crucial. By saving yourself from being obsessed with something you can not control, you will have more energy to focus on being positive and productive.
Let’s look at a few difficult to control situations that typically affect web designers. Along the way, we will discuss some methods to let go in a healthy way.
When a long-term customer leaves
If you’ve been working in this industry for a few years, you may have received an unexpected email from a client that reads as follows:
We want to tell you that we are in the process of building a new website. It should be ready in the next few weeks. Were you able to work with our new designer to help with the transition?
It was great working with you!
Your former client “
This is frustrating on a few different levels. First of all, it hurts that one was not given the opportunity to equalize discuss the project. On top of that, your future ex-client expects you to work on the transition gone from your services.
Customers want to come and go – it’s just part of doing business. However, it is especially difficult when someone blinds you in this way.
As it turns out, you had no warning and no control. If you had just been able to pitch an idea or two, things might have turned out differently? These are the kind of thoughts that are probably going through your head after reading such a letter.
How to cope
True, the damage has already been done. And even if you can angrily fire a one or two word answer to your client, that does not help the situation.
On the bright side, this could be a great learning opportunity. Answer with a few polite questions, such as:
- Was there a particular reason you went with a new designer?
- Did you have problems with the quality of my work?
- In order for me to continue to improve my services, is there anything else you would like to share?
Much of what you ask for depends on the customer and the project. But this is a solid place to start. The idea is to get a little into your client’s head and figure out what went into their decision.
And while not everyone will answer, those who do can prove valuable. You may find that your services were lacking in some areas. Or maybe the customer’s cousin is the “new designer”. Either way, it’s better than banging your fist on the situation.
When a third-party provider messes up
So much of what web designers do these days depends on third-party providers. It can be anything from web hosting, plugins, themes or email delivery services. In other words – a large part of a website’s ability to function or be accessed at all is driven by another.
A failure at one of these links in the chain can be catastrophic. To illustrate the point, think about what happens when a content delivery network (CDN) fails. It can bring down a huge number of sites.
Meanwhile, web designers are left without much (if any) control. On the one hand, you have an understandably frustrated client. On the other hand is a company that dropped the ball. Oh, look – there you are in the middle!
In this type of situation, every second can feel like an eternity. It may be possible to switch to another product, but this is not always possible. If the problem persists, the tension will continue to grow on all sides.
How to cope
Maybe you can not check an error or even a cumbersome line of code. But there are some things you can do proactively.
Working with the provider’s technical support can at least make you feel like you’re in the game. By getting status on the situation, it is possible to pass it on to affected clients.
What’s more, any troubleshooting information you can offer also has value. Who knows? If it leads to a solution, you can say you were part of the process.
When a favorite app changes for the worse
This often hurts on a personal level. We web designers tend to fall in love with tools and applications that allow us to get things done. Maybe it’s a favorite design app like Photoshop or a content management system (CMS) like WordPress.
As apps change, these changes will inevitably be forced on us as well. They affect our workflow – and not always in the most positive way.
All it takes is a quick look around at support forums and social media to see the frustration. Users talk about how the feature they loved was “destroyed” or that things never get the same. We have all seen it and at one time or another been part of the collective disappointment.
How to cope
The first coping strategy is to give such changes a chance to sink in. Even if your first impression of them was not favorable, it may take time to build a level of comfort. A feature that may have frustrated you at first may turn positive after more exposure.
Second, you can contact the developer and tell them how you are feeling. Maybe it does not result in an immediate remedy, but you get it at least away from the chest. And if enough people feel the same way, there is a chance that things will develop more acceptably.
If all else fails, it may be time to dump her and move on. Sometimes your relationship with a tool simply runs its course.
Another bid for control
In a profession where we aim to control all the variables, it can be scary to have the opposite.
But think of it this way: even you could control all aspects of your work, you would even will? It is a big responsibility and more stress than most of us can bear.
Somewhere along the line you have to put a level of trust in others. Whether it’s trusting a client, a software developer or a service provider – they are often necessary steps on the ladder to a successful business.
There will be errors and interruptions along the way. And while it would be nice to have some control over them, it’s also a bit unrealistic.
But lack of control does not mean that you have to give up all hope. Instead, look for ways to learn from the situation. The knowledge and experience you gain will serve you well into the future.