How to Keep Web Projects Moving Forward, Part 2

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In Part 1, I talked about how eliminating or reducing friction is the key to keeping your web projects moving forward. Here are four more sources of friction that can cause a web project to grind to a halt, and how to avoid them.

Deliverables are Too Difficult

Another cause for delay is when the deliverables are more complex and difficult than the client can handle. Is it realistic to expect your plumber client to provide written copy that’s web-ready, or professional-quality images? I think not.

Solution: Include Copy Writing and Stock Photography in Your Pricing

In the needs analysis portion of a sales call, I would set proper exceptions by explaining how most clients struggle with providing content and imagery, which inevitably delays the project. I would explain the benefits of including copy writing as part of my services:

  1. Takes the burden off the client
  2. Prevents delaying the project
  3. Improves search ranking and website conversions, as content is optimized for both human beings and search engines

There are a number of ways to handle imagery. One is to have a subscription to a stock image library, such as Shutterstock or Dreamstime, and include stock images as part of your prices. The other option is to include a certain number of images, say five, then charge extra if the client needs more.

Too Many Decision-Makers

It’s impossible to prevent your client from asking his mother’s input on your design because “she designed a bake sale flyer back in 1982.” But you can certainly prevent her from being part the official approval process and becoming someone you must answer to.

Solution: Have a Single Point of Contact

Understand that clients may ask their spouse, business partner, or co-workers’ opinion regarding your design. But you can avoid a “design by committee” scenario by gaining agreement with your client beforehand exactly what the official approval process will entail.

It’s important to establish a single point of contact for approval and revisions, and not accept change requests from anyone else. This forces your contact person to be the arbitrator of internal differences of opinion over your design, and to present you with “official” revisions and changes. The alternative is having numerous people emailing you changes—and conflicting ones, at that.

No Project Plan

Unless your client’s a compulsive buyer of web design services, it’s unlikely that he or she will understand your web design workflow—assuming you have one.

Solution: Have a Development Process in Place

A clearly-defined design or development process benefits both parties. Here’s what mine looked like:

  1. Preparation
  2. Planning
  3. Graphic Design
  4. Build
  5. Review

Your project will progress more smoothly when you include your client in the development process and define each person’s responsibility for each step. For instance, “gather client content” would be the first task under Preparation. So the “next step” is the client must provide it.

Your Client is a Micro-Managing Control Freak

As I said in Part 1, in a perfect world, clients would realize they hired you because they liked your work and trust you to deliver what’s in their best interest. In reality, however, those in positions of responsibility are oftentimes micro-managers and control freaks whose sole purpose in life is to find something wrong and correct it.

Solution: Include Deliberate Mistakes for the Client to Find and Correct

If you suspect you’re dealing with this type of a client, consider the tactical benefits of making deliberate mistakes in your design. The idea is that the client will look over your work, find an obvious mistake and—feeling satisfied that they’ve done their due diligence—refrain from nit-picking the rest of your design.

Please note: this should be reserved for those who relish finding flaws that don’t exist; so use with caution.

As web professionals, we need to have the client’s best interests in mind. But be sure to look after your own interests as well. Following my suggestions in both >Part 1 and Part 2 is the first step to ensuring you do.

John TabitaJohn Tabita
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Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.

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