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How your client's personality type can affect your web design project

How your client's personality type can affect your web design project

Understanding your client’s personality can be extremely helpful, from your initial pitch to collaborating on design to chasing down payment.

The example quotes below are mostly provided as a mental spark for you to consider why some clients may seem so different. I’ve provided a sort of mix of good & bad sides for each example.

If you’d like to discover more about your own type, you can take the Jung Typology Test at the Human Metrics website.

INFJ Clients:

[Naturally Supportive and Synergistic] I want to understand your goals and help you develop your career while we build a great site for my business. Sound good?

[A Bit Evangelical at Times] What is it like being a web designer? I guess you sit down a lot, right? That can be really hard on your self esteem—have you thought about becoming a landscaper?

INTJ Clients:

[Open to Independent Thought] You are the expert here. I’m open to just about any approach that works, so let me know what you need from me and I look forward to hearing your advice.

[Obsessed with Details when Stressed] Will this be maintainable, or will it go obsolete quickly? Does it support the newest ways of doing things? What do I need to learn about to make it work? Let me explore all of my options in depth on Google and get back to you.

ENTJ Clients:

[Pro at Organization] I have written up a full site map that shows how I see the website content working. This is just an amateur effort, but I want you to know that I’m committed to this project and also open to your expert ideas.

[Stressed by Too Many Feeling-words] Could you stop saying my new website will be cool? I need to know WHY it’s going to be so great and why people will love it. No happy talk or rainbow words please.

ISTJ Clients:

[Naturally Detail-oriented and Attentive to Requirements] I hired you because I appreciated your attention to these details that so many others get wrong. I’m really good with these little points, so I’m here to support you and offer any guidance I can as to how I’d prefer that some of the little things work.

[Off Day—Afraid Things Wont Meet Own Standards] I’m excited to review every inch of your work in painstaking detail. Do I have to pay for fixes to mistakes that I find? Do we need to meet together often, or can you just email me with an update once a week or so? Hopefully you don’t need much input or assistance or…anything at all, really, from my end.

ISFJ Clients:

[Applying Their Gifts] If you will make a list of things I need to do next, I’ll have them all complete as soon as I can. Is there anything else I need to know about how the website development process works?

[Love People Way More than Tech!] I saw the picture of your kids on your portfolio website! They are so cute!!! How old are they? Do you live around here, and do you like homemade bread?

ESFJ Clients:

[Applying Their Gifts] I found some examples of websites I really like. Maybe you can help me figure out why I like them, and how those aspects could be added to my website.

[A Bit Stressed] OK, it looks good, that’s fine, whatever. I don’t even care about the website anymore. Yes, I’ll still pay you. Check’s in the mail. Sheesh.

ESFP Clients:

[Using Natural Gifts for Spontaneity] I am really excited about this process. Can I add new articles to the website whenever I’m in the mood? What should I write about to make people feel like the site is worth reading?

[Really Stressed] I really want this to be the best website that our customers have ever seen. Can I call you Sunday morning at 2 a.m. when I get all my best design ideas?

ENFP Clients:

[Being a Natural Advocate] I am amazed at how professional this process has been! What should I do to spread the word about the new website?

[On an Off Day] It needs to do (long list of things). And social media sharing at every step would be perfect. Oh that will cost $300K? LOL I feel pretty silly.

ESTJ Clients:

[Being Resourceful, Tuned to Details, and Organized] I have everything you could possibly need—images, logos, maps, articles, everything. You just call me anytime and I’ll get anything else you need, too.

[Getting Stressed] Exactly what are you providing at this price? I will hold you to it like I did with the last five web designers that fired me. I mean, I fired them—ahem, I’m getting serious again—let’s make some small talk. OK, was that enough small talk?

INTP Clients:

[Naturally Curious, Thoughtful] I’m excited to use the website to communicate about subject X! And last night I got ideas for a few other websites…even if I don’t build them, maybe you’d like to hear about my ideas?

[Caught Off Guard] Will this interface with the Russian GLONASS satellite system? I was just curious because I was reading about that on Wikipedia yesterday instead of working. Yes, I guess I am kind of joking. Anyway, you’re the expert. Carry on.

ISTP Clients:

[On a good day] I really like that the website does X and Y. What else can it do? How many articles and videos and images can I add on my own?

[Getting a Bit Over-Involved] Would you mind if I redo all the code and/or graphics whenever I feel the urge? Let me know the password.

ESTP Clients:

[Initiating Positive Movement and Growth] I was thinking it’d be pretty neat if the website could also do X. Wouldn’t that be neat? How much extra would that cost?

[Prematurely Bored with the Project] Let’s do this. By the way, I won’t be using the end result much, but I hope you put in 150% of your energy! Can it be done this week?

ENTP Clients:

[Project-Oriented Problem Solver] I know we have a few problems with budget for feature X and the general timeline. But I thought of some creative solutions that will be a win-win.

[Natural Know-it-all] I built a website myself once. Took me like an hour. This stuff is pretty easy, guess a lot of people don’t know that, right?

ENFJ Clients:

[Using Natural People Gifts] I know we probably haven’t been the best client you’ve ever had, but we really enjoy working with you.

[A Bit Too Concerned About People] I LOVE your portfolio. OMG I am so happy to be working with you!!!! You should see the coworkers I have to put up with. Don’t listen to anything they say.

ISFP Clients:

[Slower Paced, Yet Willing to Follow Through] You said blogging is important, so I am going to do my best, even though it is really stressful for me. I’m new at this!

[Feeling a Bit Insignificant] I put your check in the mail, with a little gold star sticker on the envelope. I hope I was easy to work with!

INFP Clients:

[Naturally Open and Visionary] Here, I found this awesome website where there are a bunch of cool resources I’d like to use. Can you show me how to keep the website updated with these neat pictures and stuff?

[Running Late] The website was really cool, I pulled it up here on my laptop. You did a great job. What…wait, that wasn’t the website you made? What’s the address again?

After all that’s been said

I know I’m pointing out faults in the examples above, so keep in mind that everybody has a corresponding set of gifts. For example, I’d rather take big creative risks and go over budget on a project for an ENFP than almost anyone else—they tend to be incredibly fun, understanding, and forgiving people.

Coming to grips with your client’s personality type—even if you have to guess—can make a dramatic difference in your decision making process and project workflow. And it’s not hard to guesstimate who’s a what, if you’re willing to put in the work. Please see the book Personality Type: An Owner’s Manual for more information.

Photo of Marc Carson