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5 Types of Customers You Should Expect to See if You Work in Programming

Posted March 30, 2018

In the world of programming, there are various customers you will deal with. Some are a dream, and some are not the best to be working with. The following five customers are ones that you might reconsider building something for. Either way, knowing what is coming can help you prepare:

I Know Enough to Be Dangerous

This customer has taken some amateur programming lessons. They know some very basic HTML, CSS, and maybe even JavaScript. They might even call themselves a coder. These customers are the most dangerous, because they actually think they know what they are talking about.

They are the ones most likely to tell you if you are doing something wrong. They will ask a lot of questions (the wrong questions) at every corner of the project. They’ll try to talk with you like they can keep up, but they’ll get the terms wrong and show their ignorance eventually.

The reasons these customers are dangerous is because of their ego. They know deep down that they shouldn’t be messing with any code, but they just can’t stand the thought of having the credit for the project go completely to you. So they feel the need to show off. They tinker with your finished project and then come back to you after they’ve broken some code and claim you didn’t do it right.

The best way to deal with this kind of customer is to always agree with them. When they make a poor suggestion, simply nod in agreement. Then, after they’re done, continue doing whatever you were going to do. But you also need to take it a step further. Put it in writing that however the code looks when you ship it is what you will be judged on and paid for, not any changes they make.

The Idea Guy

“I have an app idea but no programming skills” is the mantra of the idea guy. They think having a successful startup is all about coming up with a grand idea. They, of course, don’t know anything about programming. So that’s why they’ve come to you.

They will probably pitch you on how lucky you would be to get in on the ground floor. They have plans of getting a lot of investment, after you build the app for free of course. But they’re offering equity, which seems fair in their eyes (even though their chances for success are incredibly low). But, they are the “idea guy” after all, so it should be worth it right?

The Impatient One

This customer doesn’t have patience. Not only that, but they have no clue how long a project actually takes to scope out and build from your end. They think you can build the next Facebook in two weeks, and they’re sure to let you know it. Be sure to do some education with these customers. They need to know why projects take so long and why their timelines are simply not feasible.

The Poor Communicator

This customer is impossible to have a conversation with that doesn’t end up in you walking off confused. You try to ask them to clarify their needs and they don’t answer most of the questions you asked. You propose a deadline via email and they never respond back. Avoid these customers if at all possible.

The Flake

Plain and simple, this customer never pays. There is one thing you can do in this situation: sue. The best option however, in order to prevent this, is to get half of the payment up front.

If you work in programming, you will encounter a lot of customers that rub you the wrong way. However, if you are prepared for what is coming then you can deal with them and get a great project out of it still or at least fire them before it is too late. So review the list above and make sure you see the warning signs next time you get one of them asking you to build their next app.

Written by Jeremy Stutter

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