Is the customer always right?

“It makes my eyes hurt, but this is what the client wants”

This plaintiff cry was heard drifting over the office from the front end team last week. Nothing that unusual about that – they are not the most reticent of teams at Collaboration Towers, but it was the content of the cry as well as the resigned and world weary tone that irked me.

If the idea / request – in this case an interface design for a web app – is that bad, should we really agree with the customer and tell let them continue in the belief that they are right?

Where, in fact,  do you draw the line between providing service and being a glorified automotron?

A large part of me thinks that these people – clients – are paying us for our expertise and our experience – shouldn’t we then give them the benefit of that experience? Are we doing a bad job but actually doing what the client would think of as a good job?

We should respect our clients enough to treat them like adults rather than toddlers who will throw a tantrum if their every mad whim is not served immediately – surely this is the different between employing a code monkey and a true craftsman?

Would you draw a circuit diagram and tell an electrician to wire you your house using this self-drawn circuit diagram?

ok, bad example – a lot of you would be capable of this without causing your house to burn down in an electrical fire but go with the metaphore people!

If you don’t want to do it for the client, do it for yourself – do you really want to be the person that has to always explain the lemon in your portfolio as “This wouldn’t be how I would have done it, but this is what the client wanted” with a shrug of the shoulders? How do you think that makes you look – does it make you look like you care about your client’s user experience?

The client almost always had the right idea for their particular problem – and lets face it, they (hopefully) know their industry / team / department / space better than you do – but the nuts and bolts of the implementation and execution should be left to the experts – that’s they pay you for.

Please  – don’t let your clients accept sub-standard implementations

Ladybirds in Chains

Some bugs in the wrong environment