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Issue 12.6 ('Cheap Web App Hosting')
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Book—You're My Favorite Client

Issue: 12.6 (November/December 2014)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,829
Starting Page Number: 12
Article Number: 12602
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Mike Monteiro is a graphic designer. He wrote this book to teach clients how to behave when hiring designers. So why is this being reviewed in xDev Magazine?

Simple: everywhere in the book, just replace designer with programmer (or consultant). The rules and guidelines Mike explains about clients and designers working together apply just as well to consultants and their clients. Design, after all, is not about how something looks—it's about how something works. It's about solving a problem. That sounds an awful lot like programming!

(And since a lot of design these days is websites and apps, there is programming involved in design anyway.)

The idea is that you'll give this book to your clients to help them learn how to deal with you. It's a clever and unusual approach, because Mike is, in a backhand way, also telling you how you should treat your clients. Remember, the client-designer/consultant relationship is a partnership. You're a team.

For example, here's a great quote about not trying to please the client, but to achieve the goal of the project: "I've seen too many designers throw their research and good sense to the wind because the client expressed a personal preference and demanded they follow it."

See how that works both ways? The client learns they shouldn't be telling the expert they've hired how to do their job, while you (the consultant) learn to stick to your guns and only do what's best for the project.

The book is filled with material like that. Mike deals with how to hire, how to fire, how to evaluate and give feedback, handling contracts, what to do when things go wrong, and much more.

He covers how to deal with subjective judgements ("...let's sidestep the whole idea of whether the work is good and discuss whether the work is effective."), why you deserve a deposit before starting the job ("you pay for flights when you reserve them, not when you get to your destination"), and things like why you should get paid more for rush work that ostensibly takes you less time ("FedEx also charges you less for delivery overnight when your package doesn't spend as much time on their trucks," right?).

The whole book is chock full of great advice, and it's written in a friendly, off-the-cuff style that's easy to read and great fun. Mike's a funny guy and it shows—but be warned, he does tend to sneak in the occasional f-bomb.

His lesson on "doing things in the right order" is hilariously memorable:

You know what the worst smell in the world is? That's right. Hot cat food. I once woke up, ground coffee, scooped a cup of cat chow, put the coffee in the cat's bowl, and dumped the cat food in the coffeemaker. I'm not sure who was more surprised, me or the cat. It's important to do things in the right order. In this case, I should have made coffee and then fed the cat.

If you're a Xojo consultant—or thinking of doing some consulting—you'll do well to read this book. Mike's sage advice is guaranteed to save you a lot of grief.

It's also a book you may want to give your clients, especially if you've already run into some communication issues with them. Consulting isn't exactly design, but it's pretty close, and I found myself nodding with Mike's wisdom through the entire book. I highly recommend it. (Plus, it's really funny!)

End of article.