Here are a few things I hate hearing when talking to a new client about a web site design.

I Want it to Look Exactly Like . . .

When someone says this, what they usually mean is that they want a complete ripoff of someone else’s site.

When you were in school, did you copy someone else’s essay and claim it as your own?  No, that is plagiarism.

There is a difference between getting inspiration from other web sites and copying it.

As an example when designing 1stBling.com, the layout inspiration came from a section of the NYTimes.com and the product feature from Delight.com.  Now that I point it out, I am sure you can see the similarities, but I doubt anyone would be able to tell otherwise.

One of the worst things about working with someone that says that is that they really have no concept of their own company identity or what their style should be.  They have no confidence in their business, so they have to copy another that is successful.

If your site is just a carbon copy of someone else’s . . . why should anyone visit it?

I give guidance in a web development project, that is part of my services.   But it really gets tiring having to continually explain why you can’t just copy other people’s work.

This Should Be Easy If You Know What You’re Doing

Classic statement . . . translated it means, “If you know what you’re doing, I should be able to pay you next to nothing.”

I’ve been getting updates from the WordPress professionals job list, and some of the job requests are outrageous.  The replies from developers have been hysterical though.  Word of warning: don’t post to that list if you don’t actually have a development budget.

When you hire a web developer or programmer, you are paying for their skills, experience, and expertise, all of which took time and expense to develop.

Just because I know what I’m doing, it still will take TIME to do . . . and that is what you are paying for.

Looking for a Web Development Partner

Anyone who has been in web design for any amount of time has received countless of these “proposals.”  Someone has an idea for a web site, doesn’t have a budget for development, and is trying to find someone to create it.

It is presented in one of two ways.  Either they want someone to develop it and if the site makes money, they will kickback a small percentage of the revenue, or they will offer you a “partnership” in the site ownership.    In a nutshell, they want the web designer to work for free and then maybe .  . . someday . . . you might make something.

There are several common characteristics of people who ask for this.  They always think it is an amazing idea and that they are doing you a favor by offering you this “opportunity.”  Also, they usually want a site that has everything plus the kitchen sink and have no appreciation or respect for the skill and work involved in developing a web site.

If what I’ve described above sounds familiar, here are a few things to consider.

First, ideas are a dime a dozen.  Everyone has them and I can guarantee that someone else has had the exact same idea as you.  The difference between a successful idea and a pipe dream is the execution.  If you don’t take action, that is all it will ever be . . . an idea.

As I mentioned above, everyone has ideas . . .  web designers included.  I have a Godaddy account full of domain names that represent great ideas and are waiting for development.   If  I am going to work on spec, I’ll do it on a site that I have full ownership of.

What you are basically asking a web developer to do with a proposal like that is to have more faith in the project than you do yourself.  If it is such an amazing idea, a gold mine that is waiting to happen, then sell a few things on Craigslist or KingwoodYardSales, work some odd jobs, or pull out a credit card to pay for the development.

Even if the site doesn’t have any hard development costs, there still is the opportunity cost of time.  If I spend my time working on your project for free, then I am not able to use that same time to work on a project for a client that is paying or developing new business.

Time is the most valuable asset a service business has . . . you can’t buy anymore of it.

How to be a Client that Web Designers Love

Know What You Like

Take some time to really study your favorite web sites and key in on elements that you really love.  Look both within your industry and without.  A few things to look at are color scheme, layout structure (top or side navigation, two or three columns, etc),  and site features.

Know What You Need

Make a list of feature you would like on your site and categorize them by “must have,” “wishlist,” and “future development.”  Prioritizing site features will help in setting your development budget.

Know What You Can Spend

All too often it is like pulling teeth to get a prospective client to tell you what their budget is.  Would you go to a home builder and say, “build me a house” and give them absolutely no guidance on what you can afford?  Of course not.

If you are hesitant about giving someone a number for fear that they will max their quote out to your limit, then keep looking for a web designer that you can trust.   I have web site design options for almost every business, but I have to know what someone is prepared to invest to make the best recommendation.

When first talking to a potential web development client, I ask them to fill out a web development questionnaire that covers each of the areas above.  If you’d like to receive a copy of the questionnaire and get started on a new web design or a redesign of an existing web site, please contact us.

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