Thursday, March 17, 2011

Working Well with Your Web Designer - Part Two

When your site demo is presented to you, make sure it’s what you want before you give your approval. If it’s not, be very specific about the changes you want, whether in design, functionality or content. Please do not let us get to the middle or near the end of your project before telling us you don’t like something and want some element of the design changed. This could potentially mean a huge amount of work for us, delays in live date and without a doubt, higher cost to you depending on the changes. Do not assume that your flat rate contract fee will include major changes in design and functionality once you have signed off on major design features.

A smart designer has business policies set up just like any other business, whether they are terms of use, contract policies, turn-around times, or simple hours of operation. Whatever they are, you can bet the designer has a good reason for implementing them. What those reasons are doesn’t matter, they are what they are and your respect of them is greatly appreciated.

Please understand that if there is something you want on your web site that your designer might not be skilled in (Flash, for example), that does not mean that you won't get what you want. Most of us have resources to sub-contract that which we aren’t personally skilled in. If you spring this on us when the project is at the mid-way point or nearly done, don’t expect to have it accomplished without a delay or additional cost. If your request is out of the scope of your contract, you will be billed the cost of the sub-contractor’s fees, and must remember that the work will be done on their time-table.

Don’t make demands and expect immediate responses. Do not email updates and changes at 3 am and want to know why they aren't completed by 8 am. Please respect our telephone and business hours. As important as you are to us, you are not our only client nor are you the only need we have on our To-Do list on any given day. Remember that you are not the only one paying us to do a job.

Constantly asking “how much will this cost” will likely add to your cost! If time has to be spent to figure cost estimates for every little thing, most designers are going to charge you for the research and calculation time if your requests for estimates become excessive. Your designer is quite conscious of your budget and will do what they can to stick close to it. If it looks like things are going to go significantly over budget, whether that is due to complications or your additional demands and requirements, a responsible designer will notify you of this.

Once your project has been completed, Visit your own web site (and not just the home page) on a regular basis. Servers sometimes do strange things to web sites. Your host may have changed or updated a script that runs in the background, some host companies change servers without your knowledge which may break something on your site. Your site may be disfigured by hackers. Checking your site on some kind of regular basis is to your benefit. If you find something amiss, let your designer know right away so they can fix it. We recommend checking your site completely at least once a week.

Check your eMail, check your eMail, check your eMail and make it a priority to communicate with your designer. If you change eMail addresses, notify your designer. If you’re going to be gone for an extended period of time, notify your designer. If you send your designer an eMail and don’t receive a timely response, send it again, perhaps the designer didn’t receive it. Although they like to say they can, even the Post Office can’t guarantee mail delivery. Cyberspace is unpredictable. Most designers work strictly by eMail for very good reasons. eMail provides a way for us to document what you tell us. We have your information in hard copy format to refer to.

Using the telephone for edits, updates and design changes means we have to take fast notes. Did you ever try to take notes during a conversation that speeds along and changes direction several times and then have to try to decipher those notes later? Not always an easy task and so very easy to get wrong! eMail input from the client gives us a chance to research a question or problem rather than try to answer it verbally on the spot – which sometimes can be incorrect, misinterpreted or not complete enough.

Don’t fall into the “if you build it they will come” philosophy. Putting a site up on the web does not mean automatic immediate exposure nor is it a recipe for overnight success. It does not mean your site goes straight to the top of the search engines. It does not mean that people are going to flock to your site the moment it hits the web. Once your web site is up, it takes care and maintenance to get it to the point of being seen. You cannot just “set it and forget it, ” there is no such thing as an “automatic pilot” button for your web site. This is where SEO comes into the picture. It’s imperative that you understand that although your site is live, it doesn’t mean the work is done. Please include SEO into your contracts, or be aware that you will be invoiced for this service when you request it later.

Never rely totally on your website for income or exposure for your business. You must have other ways to sell your product, and must use means to promote your web site as a way to sell them. Your web site should be just one tool in your business toolbox.

Listen to and work with your designer. You are, after all, hiring and paying them for their expertise. We are all aware of the phrase “the customer is always right.” If you insist on something, more than likely we will comply even if we feel it’s detrimental to your site. Please remember that it is part of our job to guide you, to look out for the best interest of your site, make suggestions, provide solutions and advise you of what might be a serious mistake. However, we can’t force you to follow our advice. The final say-so comes from you. If you don’t listen to us and your site doesn’t do as well as you’d hoped, you don’t have a leg to stand on when you blame the designer.

An experienced web designer is a walking talking wealth of information that has taken years and a tremendous amount of work and hours to accumulate. Pumping us for information and then taking that information and doing your web site yourself or giving the information to another designer you’ve hired to do the work is no different than stealing. A smart designer will not give too much information without being paid for it – this kind of conversation is called a consultation. If you go to a lawyer, they may give you an hour’s free consultation but if you want more, you pay for it.