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Client Services

We’ve written 27 blog posts about Client Services. View all topics »

  1. Good Questions: Why We Prize Project Definition

    They say the smartest students are the ones who ask the most questions. As a kid, that didn’t make a lot of sense—you think you look vulnerable—but with every answer you get, you’re more informed, wise, and empowered to keep learning.

  2. Cool under pressure

    Why are doctors sometimes considered “cool under pressure?” Is it because their personality is one that doesn’t get riled up when faced with a challenge? Is it because they have an ingrained character trait that allows them to remain calm when everyone else is completely losing it? Have you ever noticed that web developers are sometimes labeled the same way? Is it the same thing? Are web developers saving the world too? Probably not.

  3. Thoughtful Communication

    Comedian/actor Eddie Izzard makes an interesting point in his 2011 stand up Dress To Kill about communication. Through a (famously misunderstood) historic example of JFK’s 1963 address in Berlin, he illustrates how what you say, is often overshadowed by how you say it. The literal translation of what JFK said could have been interpreted in one of two ways. It could have been interpreted to mean he called himself a jelly doughnut. Because of the powerful way he delivered his message however, and the connection he had crafted with the Berlin crowd, they properly understood his meaning and responded enthusiastically when he declared himself a Berliner at heart.

  4. A Tale of Two Launches

    We’ve launched two projects with NYIT and in two weeks and it’s got me feeling reflective. It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of a launch, especially when I’m so very pleased with the results, but a faithful launch isn’t always certain.

  5. Distributed yet synchronized

    I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Brooklyn with four of my coworkers. An all-day client workshop was the reason for the visit but we also squeezed in my first employee review (over tagliatelle, no less) and a team dinner. I spend most of my days away from the Philly office, working in my studio in Baltimore. So it’s refreshing (and fun) to see my colleagues in person.

  6. The digital agency is dead. Long live the digital agency.

    In a mad dash to join all things product many are taking their design or development talents to South Beach the product space. Why the exodus? Curiosity led me to ask former digital agency practitioners representing design, development, and business analytic practice areas why they left agency life to pursue product work.

  7. Be a better painter


    by Mark Huot

    0 Responses

    The past weekend I found myself in middle of the suburban maelstrom that is Saturdays at Home Depot™. If you’ve ever been to Home Depot on a summer weekend in New Jersey you know what I’m talking about. The entire universe of suburban dads swarm to Home Depot on Saturday to get supplies for the weekend’s chore list. It’s a controlled mayhem. Myself, I was in the market for some paint to freshen up our bathroom. I spent some time picking colors with my wife, settled on one, then sent her and the kids home while I waited in line for a gallon.

  8. Show Your Work

    There is no Angie’s List for creative service companies. No IMDb for project credits. No peer review requirements for blog posts. Our industry is out here on its own, and left to act on our collective best behavior.

  9. Don’t Make Me Turn This Project Around…

    As I sit in my living room, laptop open and a Cognition column awaiting my two cent contribution, I listen to the sound of my three children shrieking upstairs. It’s bath time and they’ve been freed from the prisons of their clothing. They may or may not be careening into one another in a darkened second-floor hallway, laughing like maniacs. Parenting, like client services, is the management of the wackiest of variables, people.

  10. The Detail-less Project Plan

    The meeting started 15 minutes ago and all I can think about is how humane cyanide might be at this point in time. If the look in our project team’s eyes are any indication, oh wait, I can’t see their eyes, because they’re rolling back into their heads as the project manager calls everyone’s attention to task 231, WBS ID 2.3.5!

  11. Next Level Project Management

    Recently I’ve been privy to several good discussions in the Digital Project Management community around ‘next level’ project management – going beyond tactical proficiency and honing one’s skills around crafting client-team relationships. Tactical proficiency alone does not build a strong project manager (PM)-client relationship.

  12. Webfont Licensing 101

    Choosing a type palette goes beyond considering aesthetics, legibility, browser support, and performance. For fonts to truly be appropriate for your project, they must also be technically and financially sound solutions. No one wants to be surprised by the outrageous cost of a font package after all designs have been delivered.

  13. Crafting a Business Ecosystem


    by Greg Hoy

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    Sure, do it for money. But just as importantly, do it for fun.

    We’re currently working on a digital redesign for Lagunitas Brewing Company. It’s our first foray into the craft beer world and a bucket-list item for me personally, having long been a fan of Lagunitas. Many of their beers are complete style mashups (they are not staples at the Great American Beer Festival in part because their beer doesn’t fit neatly into judging categories). Their brand is decidedly lo-fi, but filled with personality. If you haven’t read a story on one of their beer bottles or some of the prose on a case, just have a gander.

  14. Cognition Roundtable

    We’re bringing you this special edition of Cognition Roundtable, where Assistant PM Mica McPheeters speaks with our VP of Design Chris Cashdollar about the client’s role in design projects. Spend the next half hour with Chris, as he pulls inspiration from his upcoming presentation at HOW Interactive Design Conference in Washington, DC—“Reevaluating the Role of Your Client in the Design Process.” Specifically, he’ll cover:

  15. We know where passion comes into play and where to put it in check.

    One day a phone call came in from a large, amazing hospitality brand. They were preparing for their annual shareholder meeting and needed some environmental and wayfinding work done in a hurry. It was 2004 and I was a designer at a studio in Southern California. The studio was small, and the team was small, but we had a big passion for great work and cool brands. There wasn’t much that we couldn’t handle.

    Our passion for this particular project was pretty intense. We were collectively excited; not only by the type of work, but for the brand as well. Nights and weekends be damned, this project was going to kick ass. And it did — but not without its bumps in the road and small anxiety attacks. Communication started to breakdown and frustration started to take over. The client’s trust in our ability to see the project through started to evaporate.

  16. 7 Lessons in 8 Years of Client Services

    Eight years ago next month, I came onboard as Airbag Industries’ first employee (we later became part of Happy Cog). In a moment of reflection recently, I sat down with my eight-years-ago-self and wrote down some of what I’ve learned. Here’s what I would share with 2006 Ryan, to not necessarily prevent mistakes but to help him (me) manage them better.

    In the beginning, I worked as a project manager for a retainer client Greg Storey secured. I spent every day for a year talking to lawyers about blogs. I presented designs to lawyers, handled their requests and feedback, and then worked with them to get their new blog populated with content and launched.

  17. Taking the Local

    A prospective client recently raised the (periodic) concern that our team wasn’t in close proximity to their headquarters. My reply was thorough: “We have two locations ourselves; successfully working remotely is in our DNA.” “We have a track record of working with clients all over North America and abroad, and a laundry list of client testimonials and references.” “Even when we work with a client in Philadelphia or Austin (where we’re based), those projects behave the same way as when we work with a client in South Dakota. Our process is location-agnostic.” Etc. etc. etc.

    The client seemed to appreciate my response, but in the end, they chose a local firm instead. I missed my opportunity to win that particular project, but the next time our proximity to clients comes into question, I’ll have a different response. My answer should have been simple, concise.

  18. ’Tis but thy name that is my (fr)enemy

    “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet; / So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d” (Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet, 2.2).

    In the world of project management, naming conventions are often the source of miscommunication. You have to call your work something, but if you assume everyone interprets a name the way you intended, you’re likely to stub your toe during the course of the project. As managers, minimizing risk and setting expectations is an everyday task, yet something as simple as a name or label can fly under our radar. We live and breathe our work, and we are passionate about it. It’s a good practice to never assume labels are understood out of the gate. Here’s a few tactics to help you make naming conventions work for you.

  19. Recruit the Recruiters

    Business development in a client service organization is a complex responsibility. Each approach is different from the next, but good salespeople share core competencies. I’ve talked to dozens of agency owners at Owner Camp, where the importance and role of business development is a popular conversation topic. Salespeople can be found in all walks of life. But, more than a few great ones I know were formerly recruiters, and here’s why.

  20. War on Spec

    Some agencies adhere to the mantra “you get the clients you deserve.” If that’s the case, clients also get the results they deserve—especially when they hire based on spec. This past year, I watched two projects implode after they landed with other agencies who provided spec work in the sales process. I’m not typically a sore loser, but if you hire a partner based off of spec work, you’re digging your own grave.

  21. Thomas Bayes, Save Me From Statistics!

    The only class I’ve ever failed was Statistics. I mean I flat-out failed that class.

    Since then, I’ve been statistically impaired. I’ve never argued with the value of crunching collected data, but I’ve always struggled to see the value in statistically-predictive analysis. In my role in sales, however, I’m very interested in understanding the behavior and the alchemy behind our sales process. Many of our leads come in through our online planner, but discerning how they arrived at the gates of our form has always been a mystery.

  22. Keep Calm and Carry On

    You know the poster: the one that was really amazingly-inspiring for a few minutes in 2000 until it was killed by hundreds of parodies. I’ll admit it. I loved it when I first saw it. Still do.

  23. Win Some, Lose Some

    We work in a wonderfully open community where ideas and best practices are shared and implemented liberally. Well, except when it comes to sales.

  24. All Systems Are Go!(ing to Come Apart)

    Bless her soul, Bessie stunk at jigsaw puzzles. She seemed less interested in recreating the dissected bucolic scene she’d purchased at Rose’s pharmacy decades ago than she was in hurriedly rearranging and redefining the jumbled mess splashed onto the modest kitchen table in front of her. There was no right way, just her way—and the multiple arrangements that lay ahead were every bit as valid to her as the ordered state its designer printed on the box. She just can’t see well, I figured. I never asked.

  25. Shut It Down!

    While cruising the boardwalk with my family this weekend, I was struck by what the boardwalk has in common with web design and development: ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

  26. Vendor Selection Advice From The Front Lines…

    Recently, I offered my suggestions regarding the RFP construction and management process, but I left my dear readers with a cliffhanger… Now that your RFP is complete and you’re evaluating responses and pitches, how do you select the right proposal?

  27. RFP Advice From The Front Lines

    Stop what you’re doing! John Conner sent me from the future to prevent you from authoring this RFP. I’ve seen the aftermath. Internal teams at odds over the redesigned site, users confused by an experience that somehow got more complicated, unreconciled technologies, hopes dashed, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.