I have many wonderful clients. I have a few clients who seem to be able to drain every last bit of my energy, causing me to waste time and end up being underwhelmed with the very product that they demanded. When I first began designing websites professionally, I thought these clients and I merely had creative differences that could not be resolved. As I am now a little more seasoned, I am able to see a common thread between almost all of these less than desirable clients. It's not age. It's not gender. It's not ethnicity. It isn't even creative direction. No, the common thread is this: There's was no point person. This just baffles me. In this post, I hope to tell you why, in my opinion, every project needs a point person.
Where does the buck stop?
There is one client who could probably be the poster child for each and every reason you need a point person, but I don't want to pick on them. So, I'll just use them for this one example. If your project does not have a single point person, you will inevitably end up with several green lights, and some of them will result in false starts. I have a client who has (in this year alone) given me 3 green lights to launch their site only to have it taken down because 1 of the 7 people working on the project had not approved it. To be honest with you, it's never entirely clear who's fault it is.
A Point Person Clarifies Responsibility and Authority
Where are we going with this?
The tricky thing about designing a website is that it is both an art and a science. Those two things don't really stay in their nice, neat little compartment; the world doesn't work like that. They overlap a lot. Sometimes there is only 1 right answer, sometimes 12. A good graphic designer can achieve both form and function satisfying both art and science. Yet, this becomes impossible without a point person. Everyone has their own opinion about how a site should look and function. Very rarely do those opinions exist in harmony. If demanded, the website would look disjointed and amateur at best.
A Point Person Clarifies Direction
What did you say?
Closely related to direction is the message. The message is the overall idea that you want people to take from your site. Even a simple business may have an unlimited supply of messages to convey. Narrowing it down to one (or even a few) can be quite challenging. The task becomes completely overwhelming without a point person telling people no. As I've mentioned before while warning against conflated messages, you do want to hear from clients and employees. However, there should be one person making the call. Don't go to your designer saying, "Ed, our custodial worker, would really like this to be more ..." (Yes, that really happened to me.)
A Point Person Clarifies the Message
The list goes on, but these are three good reasons to have a point person. If you'd like one more, I'll give it to you. A point person speeds things up! To get the most bang for you buck in the most timely fashion while avoiding unnecessary frustrations remember this simple axiom: Every project needs a point person.