Why The Client Is Always (Often) Wrong
The importance of web development to the success of a business is widely misunderstood and undervalued. Not understanding the process or requirements of development, a majority of developer’s clients make personal decisions about their websites that can undermine their potential success.
If It Bleeds, It Leads
Ignoring your doctor or lawyer could result in very dire consequences. Ignoring your checker at the market might just mean a few broken eggs. We tend to take some commercial relations far more seriously than others based largely on the potential impact on our lives and livelihoods.
One might think that has everything to do with how much money we invest in those relations. In many cases this is true. The gym costs $400 a year and we may never go. A lawyer may cost $400 an hour and certainly won’t be ignored.
In other cases we place more value on services that we feel have a more significant impact on our lives. We will probably value the advice of a doctor a lot more than the advice of a hair stylist.
However, one exception to these rules continues to be how people regard web development. Despite being relatively expensive and involving a high degree of expertise, many choose to ignore the advice of developers who are trying to use their diverse skills to help their clients succeed.
Web Development Has Evolved
Unfortunately, the value and process of web development isn’t widely understood. This is in part to do the continued evolution of web technology. As time has passed the potential for websites to enhance and even shape businesses has changed dramatically and many people aren’t hip to current online options or standards.
In the last 10 years the internet has transformed the way businesses operate and compete in a number of critical ways:
- The internet has become the primary portal people use to learn about and interact with a majority of businesses.
- Online business is highly competitive, necessitating the application of proven marketing and promotional strategies.
- Web programming languages have advanced greatly allowing for the full application of graphic design principles.
Good Developers Are Highly Skilled
As the internet has changed, web developers have had to learn an ever wider array of skills to provide their clients an effective online presence. Early on, developers simply had to know a bit of html to create a website. At that point websites were little more than enhanced print ads. That is no longer the case.
With all the developments since that time web developers now have to maintain an ever increasing level of knowledge about a diverse set of skills.
- Design – Is your site contemporary and suited to your target audience?
- Usability – Will Your site be easy to read, navigate, and understand?
- Strategy – Will your site appeal to your intended audience?
- Programming – Is your site stable and will it look solid in different browsers?
- SEO – Is your site set up to improve your search ranking?
- Marketing – Does your site effectively promote your business?
Effective Web Developers Care About Your Bottom Line
Most professional web developers, who enjoy what they do, want to help their clients succeed. There’s a sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing that you’ve provided your clients an effective and competitive online presence. Many developers go beyond the basics of what they’ve been paid to do, adding back-end elements that ensure that your site will be effective and can be enhanced at a later time.
Common Requests From Clients That May Not Be Helpful
Unfortunately, despite a developer’s broad experience and the best of intentions many clients still insist on ignoring sound advice. Common requests clients make that can undermine the potential success of their websites include:
- “Could you make the fonts smaller.” – This undermines legibility. Fonts are getting bigger to accommodate mobile browsing.
- “Could you add more colors.” – This decreases focus on critical elements. You want few or even one highlight color that directs attention.
- “Could you add more pages to the top navigation” – This dilutes focus on the most important pages. More options aren’t necessarily better.
- “Could you add more elements to a page?” – This can overwhelm the visitor and prevent them from seeing the most critical information.
- “Could you remove elements from the page?” – Clients often don’t realize how significant one arrow or image can be in directing the visitors attention.
You Aren’t The Audience
Business owners are very often not their own target audience. And friends and family of business owners aren’t either. It is all too common for web developers to hear from clients that they or their friends don’t like something about a site and want a change made. And yet these changes have nothing to do with the success of the website.
Experienced web developers make many decisions based on market research and direct experience to determine the best course of action about design and function. Personal opinions are hardly relevant next to a large body of research that reveals for example that people find white and blue to be trusted and relaxing colors. The client may like the color red. But that has little to do with how to reach their customer.
How To Be A Good Client
- Find a developer with broad experience that you feel you can trust.
- Spend time thinking about your customer. Who are they and what do they want?
- Don’t let your desire to be involved be stronger than your desire to have an effective website.
- If you don’t understand a developers decision, assume there is a reason and ask about it.
- Don’t let your personal preferences, or those of associates, be a higher priority than proven design principles and market research.
- Do some research online to confirm design and development principles your developer has advocated.