Conclusion — What actually happened to company offering mock ups

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Thank you for the great posts to the last blog entry, about using mock ups as a marketing tool. The story has reached its conclusion, and this entry will tell you what finally happened with the eLance bidder who provided a mock up for me.

First, a couple of points of clarification based on some of the many posts to last blog:

1. I provided very detailed specifications to any designer who requested them, including complete copy, proposed navigation scheme, and details about look and feel I wanted to convey (which should also have been apparent in the copy). I definitely agree with all of you who wondered how anyone could provide a mock up without getting into a detailed discussion with client.

2. While this was a simple web site (10 pages and two forms emailable to me for manual processing) for a non-profit venture, on any web project I as a consumer separate the work of more complex undertakings into a few buckets: copy, graphic/web design, architecture, infrastructure, coding/development. I’ve found no firms that can do a great job on all of these elements, and tend to parse them out — especially copy, graphics, and the development/infrastructure/architecture aspects. Therefore, getting mockups is very appealing to me as a prospect because I can isolate that aspect of a project.

3. A couple of you wrote about engaging the client in dialogue. That really is crucial. The process of using mock ups is one of dozens of approaches to build trust, establish credibility, and build a RELATIONSHIP with a potential customer. So mock ups work best not in blind bidding situations, but in situations when they help you establish your expertise and professionalism.

Point #3 is especially validated by what finally happened in my situation:

The company on eLance that provided a mockup did a fine job, and clearly set themselves apart from the other 24 bidders (now up to 30). However, I still wasn’t completed satisfied with their mockup. It seemed a bit cliche and generic (as some of you predicted it would).

So I invited a designer that I know and like (and who is an avid Sitepoint reader) if he wanted to bid on the project. I let him know that I had a mockup from another firm, and that I liked some things but not others about their mockup.

He promptly provided his own mock up, and provided a bid that included some things the eLance firm couldn’t: free hosting, a traffic log tool, and unlimited revisions. His price was higher, but we engaged in phone conversations (vs. the private boards on eLance) to work out the details of scope.

So I’m working with him.

(Why didn’t I invite him to bid in the first place? Because I’m always looking for new people to do work, and because I had worked with him on for-profit but not non-profit ventures. But I called on him after dis-satisfaction with the eLance bidders overall.)

Those of you who indicated that relationships are key — you are exactly right.

Those of you who indicated that mockups are a great tool for you — you are exactly right.

Those of you who think that providing mockups to clients is belittling to yourself and the industry — that’s kind of strange to me, but whatever. If it works and gets you satisfied clients, why wouldn’t you do it?

Andrew NeitlichAndrew Neitlich
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