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Help! A client ruined my work

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

The customer is always right, and when they’re paying for a service it’s their decision that is final. But at times a client can bypass all experienced views and proven testing to impart their own personal tastes on a project. This may be suitable for a personal website but not for a business site.

In most cases a clients modifications can be worked with to ensure the final website is still an example of good design. However there are cases when a clients wishes result in a website more at home in the 20th rather than 21st century. Luckily at this stage of development you can disassociate yourself from the project if you wish.

When launching a website it is common practice to place a link to your website in the footer and include it in your portfolio of work. If you’re launching a website you feel is sub-standard you can remove/neglect to do both of these.

But what happens after launch?

At work we host many of our websites in-house and as such provide ongoing support and modifications for a website. Many sites are static and we agree with the client to make a number of modifications to the site over its life cycle. However some sites are more dynamic or some clients take more control over a website.

A common problem is when a client runs a CMS or blog driven website. At times they will copy content from the web or software like Microsoft Word and damage the style of a website. In these cases support is provided and the client is reminded about best practices for integrating content.

Providing a client with FTP access to a site provides more issues. When this occurs then support is severely restricted as the client has the ability to make large scale modifications to a website. The results of this can be a broken or rather different website from that originally launched. Yet your link remains on the website. Until the client removes the link you are forever tied to the website in whatever state it may take.

What can you do?

You could ask the client to remove the link, although explaining why could be an awkward conversation. As hosts you could remove the link yourself, but accessing files on the sly could be potentially dangerous.

Instead why not have the link external to the client site and under your own control? Simply put, you have a file hidden within your own website that has the code for the link. In the clients website you include that file wherever necessary and with the addition of some extra coding you can then specifically target a site to display an alternate link or no link at all. The client still retains the right to remove your link by removing the line including your file at any time, but you also have the right to edit your own file to remove that link and also update any other sites link whenever you wish.

Is this all necessary?

A link that at least brings some work has to be more beneficial than nothing that brings nothing. No matter the state of the referring website a potential client has been generated that may not have been otherwise. While removing such a site from your portfolio ensures that any potential clients see only the best of your work, removing your link from a client’s website should only be necessary if the site actively damages your site.

The concept of externalising your link is still a worthwhile option as it gives you extra control as well as opportunities to modify the link. But when it comes to removing the link remember that such a link could be generating work.