I make it no secret that I care about web design. I care about good design. I care that your website looks good. It means a lot to me when I look at a website and it looks good. If a website brings a smile to my face, it has brought joy to my day. Maybe I am just strange. Maybe I am driven by different emotional powers than the average web designer. To me, however, the “cover” matters. What the face shows matters. That carefully thought out facade convinces me that you care enough about your product or service to take the time to show me. The details do matter.
I was raised believing that we needed to take pride in what we did. It was not so much about the quantity if the quality made up the difference. To a large degree this teaching is still a firm part of the principles I work with when building my websites for clients. It is what drives me when working on many other things as well. Let us make a lasting legacy instead of building something that we will want to throw away tomorrow.
There are times when need drives our actions and time restraints may shape our choices, however this should not trump quality. Quality can be done quickly, but features may be truncated for the sake of efficiency. Money and the saving of it should not trump quality. I have found over the years that cutting corners has yielded many a person burned by many a web designer or developer who have cut corners and without remorse washed their hands and walked away. There is no recourse for these individuals and they end up with a bad taste in their mouth for the rest of us who are putting in an honest effort and try to make everything right.
Quality should always take precedence even if honesty is the hardest medicine to swallow. Honesty is something that is often lacking in this industry. I am not entirely sure why. I have run into many clients or potential clients who been burned in the past and it is always about the lack of honest that bothers them. They cannot trust that I will be any different. Trust is a hard thing to gain when it has been broken, even if you are not the one that broke it in the first place. As such, designers and developers need to learn to be upfront and honest with their clients. They need to learn to anticipate with their clientele niche what issues will arise before they get to the table and be prepared to address them before they happen.
I know that it is not always possible to predict that issues every client will have, but if you have a niche that you cater to you are likely to see the same things repeatedly. If you have spoken with and actually listened to potential clients, you should have gathered enough information to anticipate “what if” scenarios that might arise upon further discussion with them.
For example, if money will always be an issue with your clientele then always be prepared with a counter quote or quotes. We all want to make more money. The client almost always wants to pay less money. What is wrong with being prepared with a counter quote that removes the bells and whistles from the equation? Present a quote with all their needs and wants, but if they seem to have a problem with the financial impact of it present them with a counter offer that suits their needs only. You could even have a third quote that presents a solution over time that builds up to their wants. I do this a lot and some clients like this because it spreads the cost of the project out over a longer period of time. They are only committed to their needs up front, they can take an a la carté approach to their wants after we have finished the project and reevaluated their needs and wants.
I have found that this has streamlined the process overall. It might seem like a lot more work upfront, and it probably is. I am a small enough firm that I can afford to do a little bit more work up front to have a smoother process long term. If I present potential clients with a quote ahead of time, it often saves me the headache of having to draw up another quote further down the line and unless there are dramatic changes in the overall scope of the project these quotes remain fairly accurate. They are already aware of the rough cost of the project before they approach me to do more work. They are happy and less surprised by the amount of any secondary work requests and orders.
As a whole, I enjoy taking a little bit longer if I need to in order to provide the quality product that clients did not find elsewhere. I have found that walking through the process with clients and making sure that they understand the process is sometimes hard but it is far more rewarding to me if the client ends up with what they truly wanted. There will always be the picky clients out there, but sometimes they are picky because they do not understand how to articulate what they are visualizing or what they want. It takes a special amount of patience to deal with these people. I take a great amount of care in these types of clients. To me, they are not problem clients, they are simply special. They special attention. I have to pay special attention to detail with them.
I choose to do a bit more hand holding with some of my clientele because that is the niche I choose to cater to. I actually take great joy away from these projects in the end. I like being able to take this abstract and inarticulate idea from someone’s head and produce a fine work with it. It is not easy, but it is still doable if you are patient and you are willing to ask the right questions and endure a little longer. There is no rush to the end of the project when these clients are involved. I am upfront with my clients when we set a schedule. I let them know that their project while it might take me 4-6 weeks to complete the project under the best of circumstances, it will take longer if they drag it out. I have found through most experiences that clients drag it out due to their own inexperience and own lack of knowledge. Sometimes it is their own inability to make a decision. For many of them, this is a big decision and they simply cannot decide. It is my job then to help them decide what will be the best representation of them and their company. This is not always easy because there are a lot of factors to consider. I have to do my own research. I have to know their company and their product or services. I have to know them. This is not easy because sometimes they are not easy to get to know.
I am a firm believer of quality over quantity and I prefer to have a project take longer than to turn out numerous amounts of projects where the client is unhappy. Unhappy clients yield results that do not last. I want my work to last more than a week. I want my work to stick around a few years.