These five things can actually apply to anyone in most creative fields. If you are a writer, tattoo artist, painter, or a graphic designer, there is truth to all of these rules. But as a former professional web designer who has dealt with hundreds of clients, I thought I could give my perspective.

Would you copy this site?

You may be surprised how often this question is asked. “I’d like our site to be just like theirs.” is something that I’ve hear a hundred times. What I tended to do in this situation is to guide the client to a different thought process by saying thigs like, “So you like that site? Tell me the things you like about it.” and “What are some other websites you like?” At this point you suggest combining elements from all of those sites that make up one unique site that the client will like. But if you agree to straight up copy a website, eventually competitors and customers are going to notice.

Sorry. I’m not a copywriter or content creator.

When you are dealing with an inexperienced client, it’s important to be very upfront about this from the beginning. A lof of clients don’t understand that content and copywriting is a separate part of web design. So if they need copywriting or content creation this needs to be discussed up front, so you can charge accordingly. This keeps you and your clients both happy.

My world can’t revolve around you.

Don’t take that the wrong way. But it’s important to realize that I have other clients with the same needs and expectations as you. If you call me, I’m happy to help you, but I might be in the middle of something else so I may not be available right that second. I’m not a big company with a support team, I’m one guy. And please don’t call me about a question that you can answer with a simple Google search.

I’m going to make you an original, complicated, updatable, thought out website. This takes more than a day.

Some clients, especially those who have a little bit of experience using programs like Frontpage or Dreamweaver can sometimes have unreasonable expectations. A website isn’t just the pretty parts you are looking at. There can be back end programming involved with MySQL and PHP or customizing a content management system like Drupal or WordPress. This takes longer than a day. However, its my job as the designer to set expectations up front, before work even starts.

Sorry, I can’t make your product good if it’s not that good.

I’ve been asked to make a good website for a crappy product or service. It happens, and thats okay. It’s not my place to judge. I’ve also been blamed when a client, who wanted a website so he could sell unlicensed sports paraphernalia, when the business ultimately failed he said it was because the website wasn’t very good. ’m sorry, I don’t work miracles. If you have a bad idea, bad business, a dysfunctional work environment, or stupid marketing, I doubt I can fix any of that for you.

The key for all five of these is upfront communication. Setting expectations for you and your client before work starts is going to make it much more likely that you’re going to have a positive experience once the job is over. This leads to long relationships and referrals for more work.

Author Bio: Matt Baker is a former web developer and current writer. He contributes to the web development category of the site Build Fix Make.