Communication isn’t always easy

In my spare time I occasionally do some web design and web hosting work for a couple of different clients. Mostly these are my family members, order friends, story and neighbors who need a relatively simple website and a place to host it.

Recently I started helping out an uncle with a site for his new business. He had already worked with a designer to create some printed letterhead, for sale and he wanted to use the same stuff for the header on his website. He said he’d send me a copy of the letterhead so I could put it on the site.

The letterhead came as a Word document, and I didn’t love the font choice, so I told him. He said he did like it, and he’d already used it to send out some letters and create business cards, so he wanted to keep it. I said I’d get it up on the site.

The Word document had the following font (I’ve only reproduced part of it, for the sake of my client’s privacy):

comm1

I thought the font wasn’t very professional, and I couldn’t get the font out of the Word document, and I wanted to make it a bit clearer for the website, so I found a close font which looked like this:

comm3

It wasn’t a perfect replica, but I thought it looked better than what he had. He contacted me and wanted the font changed back to the original. This didn’t look like his letterhead, and he wanted a consistent look and feel. I told him that without the font file I couldn’t re-create the logo in Photoshop, so I’d have to just take a screen shot of the Word document and make that the header image. He thought that was a fine solution. I took a screen shot of the Word document, and up went the original image:

comm1

The next day he contacted me again and said he still didn’t like the image. He thought it looked unprofessional and by the way, weren’t we going to just take a screen shot of the Word document?

Then it dawned on my wife that what he was seeing in his Word document was different from what we were seeing in our Word document. In fact, he hadn’t embedded the font into the Word document, so when I opened the document on my machine, Word did a silent replacement of the font.

After he embedded the font in the Word document, I was able to see the same letterhead he was seeing:

comm3

No wonder he didn’t like the first two attempts!

We both thought we were communicating, because we were both looking at the same source document, when in fact, we were seeing something completely different, but didn’t know how to talk about it. That was due, in part, to our family relationship; he didn’t want to tell me how ugly it was, and how it didn’t look anything like what he was seeing. Our family relationship hindered our ability to communicate properly in a business relationship.

At least now we have the right font on the site. And next time, we’ll make sure we’re both talking about the same thing when there is an apparent disagreement.

2 Responses to Communication isn’t always easy

  1. Sri September 9, 2008 at 11:10 pm #

    -image-Communication isn’t always easy

    I always send a pdf even for a initial stage review coz word can’t play its trick around.

  2. paul September 10, 2008 at 9:12 am #

    @Sri
    That is a great idea. I’ll be doing it from now on!

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