Busting Web Design Myths: The Top 7 Misconceptions Clients Hold

As a beginner web designer, you may be an idealist and visionary, but eventually, you will encounter clients who can turn you into a cynic. You will learn that clients often have a clear idea of what they want, but they may not fully understand certain aspects of web design. Are you ready to handle these challenges?

Here are seven common misconceptions that clients have about web design, which can be frustrating or even deadly for your project. We also provide tips on how to counter and prevent these issues from arising during your client-freelancer relationship. If you have any stories or advice to share, please leave them in the comments section.

How to Work Better with Clients

How to Work Better with Clients

Busting web design myths: Navigate through common client misconceptions and enhance your design process. Read more

1. They Believe They Own You

There are clients who believe that they own you once you enter into a contract with them. Beware of these clients! They will constantly email you, demanding revisions and new design features. If you don’t respond immediately, they will become angry and start threatening you.

The problem arises when you don’t properly explain your work schedule to your client. If you don’t mention that you don’t work on weekends, for example, they may assume that you do. This is particularly true if you work as a freelancer, which many people see as the opposite of a fixed 9-to-5 job.

It’s a matter of technicality: if you didn’t say it, it doesn’t apply.

working under pressure
How to Counter This

To avoid this issue, it is important to clearly communicate your working hours and schedule to your clients. This will prevent them from expecting updates or responses during times when you are not working, such as on a Saturday night.

If necessary, consider having a separate phone for work that can be turned off outside of working hours. Clients may try to contact you with new ideas or requests at any time, but it is important to prioritize your own work-life balance.

Additionally, avoid checking or responding to work emails outside of working hours, as there will always be more to address when you return to work.

2. Their Website Will Immediately Go Viral

To some extent, a web designer is responsible for optimizing the website’s markup and ensuring it loads quickly because search engines consider load speed when ranking websites. However, it’s not an exact science to make a site design go "viral".

This buzzword has been around for a while, and some services promote it as a feature. But if a client expects you to drive thousands of visitors to their site, don’t say yes if you can’t deliver. It’s better to explain to them that going viral is a different service and refer them to someone who can help.

How to Counter This

This is a common situation, especially with business owners who don’t know much about the internet. Use it as an opportunity to educate them instead of getting frustrated with their expectations.

3. They Know What People Want

The animated logo, marquee, loads of pop-ups, auto-play music, and many other travesties that were considered cool 20 years ago would make today’s web designer wet their pants in fear. However, for some reason, clients are still asking for these things because they believe "this is what people want." Take a deep breath.

web designer
How to Counter This

When speaking with a client, it is important to convey your expertise and respect for their input. However, if you believe that their suggestions compromise the principles of good design, it is your responsibility as a web designer to respectfully decline

A simple response such as "I will consider your suggestion, but based on user preferences, this alternative may be more effective. Trust me, I have extensive experience in this field and want to ensure your success" can be highly effective.

For additional guidance on navigating these situations, consider reading "Convincing The Client – How To Win A Design Argument."

4. Space Is Bad and It Should Always Be Filled with Something

Everyone needs breathing space, even websites. Having empty space does not mean the website has been rushed or not well-thought-out. In fact, it takes serious consideration to ensure that these "empty" spaces complement the entire website.

Client: “Hey, this website looks like something I can come up with in just five minutes.”

Designer: “It’s called Minimalism. Whitespace.”

Client: “Well, there is too much space here. Can you put some kittens here?”


How to Counter This

There is a reason why cluttered, glittery, and blinking website designs from the 90s have died out. Tastes, needs, and requirements change with time, and generation gaps exist even online

There will always be a transition period in the world of design, whether we like it or not. Currently, whitespace and minimalism are the "in" things (who knows what will happen in a couple of years), and it’s important that your client understands that visitors associate website design with how up-to-date their company is with the latest trends.

5. Mobile App Design and Mobile/Responsive Site Design Are the Same

There is a significant difference between having an app for your website and having a mobile or responsive website. A mobile app or application is something that you can download from marketplaces like Google Play or the App Store and install on your mobile devices. These applications are compact and serve specific purposes, without the newsletter sign-up forms, headers, footers, fancy images, and the like.

On the other hand, a mobile website refers to a copy of a website saved under a different directory or subdomain (e.g., m.youtube.com). Meanwhile, a responsive website is built to "respond" and change to accommodate the different screen sizes on which you view the site.

It is important to note that these are not all the same. A designer who can build a website may not necessarily know how to build an app, and vice versa. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the differences and choose the right option for your business needs.

How to Counter This

Be wary of clients who believe that designing an app is the same as designing a website, and that this is all you are paid to do. This is especially important if you are unable to do both. It is crucial to clarify this to them with clear examples.

One way to do this is by showing them an actual responsive website, a mobile website, and an app that all belong to the same company or brand. This will give them a clear understanding of what each one is and what they require for their specific purpose.

It is important to be patient when dealing with this issue as it may take some time to get through to them.

6. Since You Designed Their Website, You Are Forever Responsible for Any Redesign

Have you heard of animal imprinting? It’s when an animal that is born sees people nearby (or anything moving) and follows it devotedly around thereafter, thinking that they are its parents.

Well, in design, some clients have this tendency to depend on you for redesigns and everything else after a project is done. It starts out as something small, like a font change or a background color change. Then, because you did not invoice them for the changes, they expect every other change request thereafter to fall under the after-sales service.

Their requests keep coming, in batches, nonstop, until you need to wave your white flag.

How to Counter This

If you don’t currently use a contract for your freelance work, it’s a good idea to start using one. And if you do already use one, make sure to clearly explain the "grace period" clause to your clients before beginning any work. Personally, I give my clients 48 hours to send revision requests, and another 24 hours after that for minor changes.

For larger projects, it’s important to provide a longer "testing" period for clients to review the design. The goal is to let them know that they have a pre-determined period of time to request changes for free. After that time period, they will be on their own or may be charged for change requests.

In summary, using a contract and clearly explaining the grace period clause can help ensure that both you and your clients are on the same page regarding revisions and changes.

7. They Think They Can Cancel a Project Anytime and You Will Receive Nothing

This is another reason why you should work with a contract. Clients are human, and some of them are very fickle-minded. They may tell you they want the project done, when you can start, and then disappear for weeks.

Only to come back and tell you they have changed their mind and don’t want to continue with the project. And voila, they are gone from the face of the earth.

How to Counter This

Yes, it is frustrating, but unless you ask for a deposit upfront, don’t expect to be paid for whatever work you have already put into the project. Although it would be easier to ask for an initial commencement deposit if you have a reputation that precedes you, it is common practice nowadays to ask for a starting fee before starting any work.

In many cases, it prevents the client from bailing on you halfway since they have committed financially to the client-freelancer relationship. You can also charge them a predetermined cancellation fee if the project is of a very large scale. This will reduce the losses from the man-hours you have spent on a project that ended up getting canceled because of no fault of yours.


Despite all the suggestions listed above to counter the seven misconceptions or problems clients may have about web design, sometimes it doesn’t help to be as blunt. You might need to resort to hinting or dropping things casually into normal conversations. Don’t expect your clients to know most of these things, but you want to avoid insulting them if they don’t.

For the more important things, keep a black-and-white copy of the communication: emails, Skype conversations, text messages, so you have evidence that you have informed them beforehand of what is involved.

Also, never sign a contract without fully explaining things to a new client. Contracts are supposed to protect your rights and your client’s. At the end of the day, it is a money-for-service exchange, and both sides should walk away from the transaction happy with what transpired over the completion of the project. And who knows, they might keep coming back to you with more projects.

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