Web Design Horror Stories From Clients That Will Make You Facepalm


We all get them from time to time. Almost every kind of freelancer – designers, developers, copywriters – gets the nightmare client. The client who’s email makes you cringe. The client who wants everything done five minutes ago, the clueless, the client who makes you dream of the corporate cubicle and safe monthly pay check.

Here are just a few of our favorites from the web. How many do you recognise?

deadline cartoon

Last Minute Luke

via Jesie Castro

Clients are normally payed according to their salaries. Freelancers charge hourly or day rates. Does that mean our time is less valuable, because we turn it into a commodity?

Abdicates Responsibility Anne

I’m supposed to be designing a brochure for a client. An aggressive timeline was set months ago. It would allow me two weeks to design a 40-page brochure, get it proofed, get it approved, and get it to print. I was supposed to have all the images and copy prior to that two-week deadline.

When I only received 18 of several dozen images, I requested a meeting. This piece has to be laid out in chronological order, so it was absolutely necessary to have all the resources before I built anything more than my template.

CLIENT: But you’re still on track to complete this project on time, right?

ME: You missed your copy deadline and I’m missing most of the images. Do you know when I will receive the rest of the content and copy?

CLIENT: No, but you can still get it done on time, right?

ME: You don’t know when you are going to get me the rest of the resources, but you still want me to promise I’ll meet the deadline?


A common problem. You need the client to give you key pieces of information, copy or images. They delay. Normally because whatever they need to produce isn’t done yet. This delays the project. Causing a knock on negative effect on other client projects. And yet, they still expect work finished on time?



fee image

Cheap Client Chris
via (x)

Deborah Doesn’t Listen

ME: I’ve attached four different options for the cover page. Please let me know which one you prefer so I can purchase the relevant stock image. I’ve provided the cost of each image below for your convenience. Thanks.

One week later.

CLIENT: Yes, I like the images.

Been there, had to repeat that, right? For clients to get what they want, which almost all freelancers are perfectly happy to do, input is usually needed along the way. But for that input to take place a client usually has to listen to what is being asked. How many times have you had to repeat a question to a client?

Vague Victoria

ME: Since we are on such a tight schedule, could you please be more precise when giving me feedback on this?

CLIENT: It needs to look a bit nicer.

Design, especially front end, user experience and other digital forms of design, require a certain amount of flair. It can’t be denied that a lot of subjectivity goes into how people perceive design elements and the finished product. But ‘nicer’ doesn’t give anyone much to go on when trying to make changes.



money comic

Tight Thomas
via Jhall comics


After working for months on a client’s website, we finally got it to (their vision of) perfect, nailing all the brief points e.g. modern, interactive, etc.

A day later…

CLIENT: We need to fix the website.

ME: Did something happen?

CLIENT: It’s not centred when I print it.

There are no words.


Edmundas Eddy Balcikonis

One of the co-founders of TrackDuck www.trackduck.com startup, avid traveler and blogger. Passionate about effective remote team work, project management and UX.

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