Thanks for your replies; just to clarify a few points,
I live in a remote holiday destination, the site owner is also resident here and he has developed into quite a good friend. The duo who initially contacted me on his behalf have now finished their time here and have returned to their homes, we are conducting the remaining development by email whilst I have occasional meetings with the site owner.
The site owner is a sports trainer, the duo are students of his who said they would invigorate his website in exchange for part payment on his fees. I was brought on board to actually build the site. The site owner is the one who is paying my fees.
In this arrangement I see myself as the design director and the duo are essentially working for me; we are working together to build the site for the owner. Is it wrong that I am thinking this way?
In my capacity I feel that my opinion trumps theirs; i.e. this is my full time job, I know better, I understand UX and try to find a balance between what the client wants and what I (with my experience) feel that the site visitors want. If we don’t design with the visitors in mind then it may harm the success of the project; that is my fear.
If they were my actual paid employees of mine I would not accept either the design or the content and I would force them to re-work both. When I bring up my concerns they are just brushed aside and I am again instructed to perform those same tasks. As they are only nominees of the site owner; I do feel it is my ethical and professional responsibility to inform the site owner of my concerns and thus allow him to make the decision on who has complete control over the site.
Let me just be clear; this is not me taking work away from other developers; I will still be more than happy to provide footer credits for the duo as I know (and appreciate) the work they have put in to this. The problem I have is that in my opinion, the work they have done is substandard; but they think otherwise.
Many people would say, ‘just walk away’ and it is something I am tempted to do; but as I said, the owner has become a close friend during our meetings; we have even met socially. The other rather important aspect is the sites traffic; they get a lot, as a freelance developer this is a great opportunity for exposure for me. This is a major reason why I have to make sure the site is built correctly and crosses as many boxes as possible when it comes to usability and accessibility; it needs to be something that sits nice in my portfolio.
Hence I really don’t want to walk away from this project; for those reasons; but I would also like to try to get on an even keel with the duo but I don’t feel they are listening to anything I have to say and they are just re-iterating the exact same points.
I have been drafting an email over the last few days; trying to find a balance between being firm but professional. I am considering how to ask them to step aside from the project for its own benefit but I am still toying with the wording. I also have a meeting with the site owner in the next few days anyway; I’m not sure of how to voice my concerns with him.
As it is now; the site owner is asking me to change and amend aspects of the content that the duo has already told me to not do. They have actually said to me not to let him change certain elements such as header images and sidebar/footer content. I don't agree with this; especially if his ideas are better than theirs. If anything I really should inform him of this when he asks me to do them.
All I want to do is make websites; I could do without all this hassle!
NOTE: I am considering for future projects an additional clause in my contracts that states that I have complete control over whether aspects are implemented if I don’t believe they are accessible or add anything to the site. Obviously giving me grounds for withdrawal from the project; although I’m not sure if that is a bit too dictatorial: my way or else; not my style really. Does anyone else include such a clause? How do you word it?