When you’re looking for a new website, there’s likely a lot of things on your mind. But the relationship with your designer or developer usually isn’t one of them. Which is unfortunate, because having the right client/provider dynamic is crucial to the success of a project. If you don’t quite “mesh” with your chosen designer/developer, your website may turn into a pain point rather than a valuable biz tool.
I’ve broken down 3 huge myths about working with a designer or developer – including some red flags from them, and some behavior for you to avoid so you don’t become a nightmare client.
Myth 1: It’s Normal For All Their Conversations to be Full of Jargon
Web Development is, by nature, a very technical trade. In my development process, I routinely use all sorts of tools and resources with funky sounding names, like SASS, flexbox, PHP, SFTP, git, or gulp. Even the tools with normal sounding names, like Code Kit, are still explicitly technical.
As a client, I don’t expect you to know what most, if any, of those things are. Or how they work. Hell, you don’t even need to know if they exist or are being used on your project. They’re the silent utilities that run behind-the-scenes, allowing me to make you the best website possible. You, as the client, have permission to not give a damn about them.
But there’s a prevailing attitude that the more technical a web designer/developer/agency sounds, the smarter, more high-tech, and exclusive they must be. And all that technology they’re talking about must be better than anything else another designer/developer/agency could possibly offer.
And it’s a load of crap.
You see, a fancy vocabulary doesn’t mean someone is smarter, or better at their job.
It’s important that your web developer knows what they’re doing, and doesn’t overpromise and underdeliver. But they also need to be able to communicate. A good developer should have the knowledge and tools necessary to do the job, but also the skills to communicate what they’re doing in a way that everyone will understand.
If you don’t understand a word coming out of your developer’s mouth, they usually either:
- Are trying to sound impressive and smart.
- Don’t understand the technology enough to explain it in simpler terms.
- Or don’t care if you understand their process.
Either way, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Myth 2: They Should Do Everything You Say
Working for myself, I’ve had my fair share of nightmare clients. (Not you, I’m sure you’re an awesome client.)
It’s not uncommon to have clients who want everything, plus the kitchen sink, and throw in the oven while you’re at it ’cause they’re on a roll. It’s also not uncommon to have clients that have a specific “vision” and will settle for absolutely nothing less than the imaginary website in their head.
Now, it’s a general rule in business that the customer is never wrong. And that, as a service provider, it is our duty to accommodate every desire and whim of our clients.
That could not be less true if it tried.
It is a web designer or developer’s job to give you the best website they possibly can. Now, this does mean creating you a website that is on-brand, attractive, and that you’re happy with. But it also means your website needs to be functional and helps you meet your goals. It needs to be up to modern standards – mobile-friendly, accessible, easy to navigate – and work on a wide variety of devices. Because your developer’s responsibility is not only to you, the client, but to your audience.
Basically, if your vision means your website won’t work on iPhones and half the features are only available in Chrome, it shouldn’t happen.
This isn’t to be mean. Or to be stubborn. But while you are an expert in your respective field, your designer/developer should be an expert in theirs. And they have the right – no, the duty – to refuse to build “bad” websites that will ultimately hurt their client’s business, audience, or brand.
Moral high road aside, if your developer just rolls with the punches and does everything you’ve asked without question, it could also indicate they’re just in it for the paycheck. And while everybody’s gotta get paid, I’ve found it’s best to work with people who genuinely care about you/your business.
Myth 3: They Should Literally Always Be Available
Web designers and developers make their living online! Their entire job is to sit in front of a computer! Why is it so unreasonable to expect them to be just an email or message away?
First of all, if you want your website to get done, you can’t always be in contact with your designer/developer. Answering questions, responding to emails, and other forms of communication take time. And the more time that’s spent on communications, the less time is spent on actual design or development – which means projects take longer to get done.
Second, it’s ~ mildly unreasonable ~ to expect your developer to drop everything and dedicate time to just you, whenever you call. It messes up our workflows.
This post from Reddit sums it up pretty succinctly:
Most of us have schedules, workflows, and processes in place so we can do our jobs efficiently. Being creative, or coding, isn’t something that can necessarily happen on a whim – you have to be in the right frame of mind for it. And when we have constant disruptions, it messes up our mindset and we, inevitably, have a harder time getting the job done.
Third, it’s a guaranteed recipe for burnout. And if you burnout your designer or developer, your project is going to take a lot longer to get down. I speak from experience: I had a project for a colleague of my husband’s. The near constant client access drove me up a wall, and the project (and the relationship) went sour because I couldn’t deal with any more pressure. It’s unfortunate, but it happens, and it sucks for everyone involved.
Obviously, if you developer ignores you for two weeks, shoot them a quick email and ask what’s going on. But on the other hand, if it takes 48 hours for them to answer or implement a fix, it’s likely that they’re doing the best job possible, because they’re tackling the project at their own pace.
It’s also important to recognize that web designers and developers are people, and set reasonable expectations for their work. But it’s also important to recognize when a designer or developer may not be a good fit for you, your project, or your business.
And, hey, if you need a new website, I’m booking for April 2018. Let’s chat. 😉