Can You Prevent Your Clients from Being Amateur Designers?

I'm wondering if anyone else has run into this issue...

I've got a client for whom I've designed multiple templates. This client has one employee that habitually will go in to make new emails using the templates we've designed, and will overwrite / change the text colors / fonts in the editor - completely jacking up the nice look we've established in the templates.

I mean, this person makes these emails look BAD. Like Geocities 1996 hot pink comic sans on a bright blue background bad.

I've explained to this person time and time again that all they need to do is work with the basic styling calls: bolding text as needed, creating links, italics, making paragraphs, bullets, that's really all they should be doing to text in the templates. But no, this person just can't keep their hands out of the cookie jar - next email I get from them has 36pt hot pink & orange type in a design that is supposed to have muted browns & khakis.

I've done everything I can to keep them from doing this - calling out and styling every style imaginable in the CSS, but once the templates get into the system and you define a block of text with multiline, there's just no way I've found to keep that person from being able to create what can only be described as an email freakshow.

Aside from forcing this client to enter a block of text into a field defined with singleline, is there any way of keeping this from happening?

roshodgekiss roshodgekiss, 5 years ago

Great question! I'm opening up this one to discussion. On our part, there's probably a lot we can do in the way of restricting how clients can edit templates (and yes, I've added a feature request or two on your behalf), but I'd love to know how designers proactively rope in their clients' ambitions. Come on, let us know - can you prevent your clients from playing designer? :D

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oskarsmith oskarsmith, 5 years ago

In our website CMS systems we now install a Markdown editor instead of a WYSIWYG one. With a little explanation of the reasons for giving the client this editor and a few pointers on how to use it, this has seemed to work well for us. It gives us a lot more control over styling without disempowering the client entirely.

Might be worth considering as an optional editor for Campaign Monitor? (i.e. "Choose your editor for this client/campaign: WYSIWYG / Markdown / Plain Text" [toggle])

e-man, 5 years ago

This isn't the client's fault.
The options you mention (font-size, colour etc...) simply shouldn't be present in the editor (wysiwyg or not) and that's it. If the client doesn't have the option then he can't abuse it.

gtomlinson gtomlinson, 5 years ago

+1 for oskarsmith's reco - having a choice for editor would be the ultimate scenario. However, just having a minimal editor would also work too - one in which the client could choose the following:

• boldtype
• italics
• create a hyperlink

That's about it. You could control all of this thru specific CSS calls in your markup, and Client could still have the perception of customizing their campaign - within the parameters you define.

Gregg Tomlinson

Web: // Twitter: @fatheaddesign
crondeau crondeau, 5 years ago

I spend my days building wordPress sites for clients and run into this issue all the time. In the past few years, I've simply learned to let it go. I do my best, present my arguments, but in the end, the client has paid for their theme/website/template and if they don't have the same taste as you (or no taste at all) then so be it. It's their image and brand. If they are happy with ruining the design, then so be it. Worrying about it or getting agree won't help.

Christine Rondeau
Twitter: @bluelimemedia
gtomlinson gtomlinson, 5 years ago

See, I see this exact same problem in the complete opposite perspective. Yes, my clients pay me to design something that reflects their image and brand, and by creating an email template that allows them to 1) put in the copy they want while 2) preserving the integrity of their brand would only be allowing me to even better service my clients.

I know this is a half empty / half full scenario, so maybe I'm just choosing to look at this thru the half full filter. You see restrictions... I see opportunity. I love the idea of making a simplified editor available, so the client can edit within reason.

At the end of the day you're absolutely right, you have been hired to create their image and brand - and by restricting their ability to screw up that visual consistency of their brand, I see that as part of the job of a designer.

Gregg Tomlinson

Web: // Twitter: @fatheaddesign
roshodgekiss roshodgekiss, 5 years ago

Thanks for the feature requests that have come in so far - we've also considered adding a tag attribute that tells the editor to present a limited set of editing tools, but it's all up in the air as yet. I'll make sure all your suggestions are noted here and keep you posted :)

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adesignapart, 5 years ago

I wouldn't restrict the user, although if the feature was there it would be a possibility.  If they get restricted now after having the features, they will just ask for them again, then you either have to give them to them, or tell them why you removed them.  Which is sort of going behind their back and taking their toys away.

Rather I would prove to the user that it is better your way (if it really is). Results, is what drives these people to send out the emails.  They want opens, clicks, shares etc.  Get the results of their emails, get them to send some with your emails and prove to them that you design gets better clicks, more shares or whatever they are after.  That is if it does, to do this you need to have confidence in your product. 

Remember for them it is more about results than anything else.  A good design can be great but if they think by making the header huge, pink and comic-sans is going to get them clicks... well they are going to do that.

Jarrod Jarrod, 5 years ago

I agree that explaining to your client why you have designed their template the way it is is a good move. Perhaps have them compare their "Geocities" email with other HTML emails they subscribe to side-by-side?

However, if you want a hack, include the following style in your template:

span { 
color: #yourParagraphColor !important;
font-size: yourParagraphSize !important;

This should override any spans that the editor includes.

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