I build websites for companies. I want to acentuate the postive and minimize the negative aspects of working with someone like me. What are some things that I should always remember to do? What are some bad experiences that you've had?
Ah, what a great question @butchewing. For me, it's all about expectation setting. When cash is tight, it can be super stressful to launch a big project and then be told at the end that it wasn't completed because it wasn't scoped properly. As someone who isn't a website expert, I really value when the experts share with me what to expect, what is included, etc. That would be super helpful. The more transparent, the more I trust!
Thank you for your comment. You make an excellent point. Clear expectations are huge, especially when it comes to the scope of the project. I have several milestones that I put in place to be sure that my client and I are on the same page.
I like to start with what I call roadmapping. I have found that many people that come to me don't really know what they want or how to articulate it. Roadmapping helps to map out the project and desired outcome. I use it as the playbook to build the site.
The second thing that I like to do is wireframe out each page. I am able to visualize a completed project while looking at a blank screen. But, I have found that most people do not have that ability. By wireframing each page, I am able to quickly sketch out the basic features, feel, and flow of the website. All changes are able to be made quickly and cost effectively. Then, I use the wireframes as the blueprints of the website. I prefer wireframes over mockups at this stage because many people get distracted by colors, images, and lorum ipsum. By simply sketching things out in a wireframe, we remove all of those distractions.
I work very hard to bring as much transparency as possible. It is a difficult thing to do. Sometimes I feel like I am explaining too much. I don't want to overwhelm my clients, but I do want them to be informed and know as much as they can about their website before, during, and after the project is completed.
Sounds like you have a great approach @butchewing! I personally love "over-communication" from my partners - we all have so many things going on, it helps get it into my thick skull that we are on or off track.
I'm kind of the intermediate guy in the process locally. When a friend gets tired of, or dissatisfied with, the WYSIWYG site builders, they often ask me to help (I'm economical, I do not charge).
I know their industry, so the first thing I do is google that industry and provide them with as many links to different looking web sites as I can, but not more than 10.
I ask them to visit each and write down what they like, dislike, and could care less about.
Then I use that info to, as you say, wire frame it.
Edit: the worst things I have heard about, since I do not use a professional like yourself
1. failure to meet the drop dead date, or any intermediate progress date
2. Per page fees, and looking at the site to see multiple pages that should be combined.
3. dead links or menu choices on the final project
4. Style changes of pages, either menu location, backgrounds, breadcrumb trails, etc etc
5 MY pet peeve - an email contact form. If I can not get an email address to contact support I will rarely do business with that company.
I want to be listened to.
I want you to Admit your weak points and be willing to address them. While you might be really good with graphics and marketing, that doesn't mean you are good with the Language you need to use, so get an Editor or English Major as a subcontractor, to Review the work. There is nothing worse than, for a real example of what happened for an Architectural Firm...
The projects are Multi-million $ custom log homes in outrageous locations. You see them on TV and magazines, such as Log Home Living and Epic Log Homes. The text for the website, for one of the projects mentioned how the Fireplaces were built by craftsmen using "Imported Indigenous Stone."
Indigenous = local to the area.
It really seems to be so expensive to hire a web developer to build a eCommerce. Moreover, with such a great variety of wordpress themes ( https://www.templatemonster.com/category/astronomy-wordpress-themes ) available on the web, there is actually no need. Being a complete non-techie, I managed to set up my own website without special effort.
Way to go @ALexRuf! It feels so good when you can do something on your own that you thought might be out of reach.
I would say the best thing, is that it gives more time to focus on business and running the business. However, my sister builds all of our websites and she does an awesome job on them.
As far as remember what to do, listen to your customers and be able to fulfill what they want before taking the job. We could have saved a few thousand if the person we hired before would have "counted the cost" first before committing.
That is wonderful, that you were able to build your website yourself! I am all about DIY. I even recently launched a DIY Website Builder for people that like to take life by the horns, like you! I want to help empower more people to do exactly what you did.
Unfortunately, most people simply do not have the time, tools, or talent to build their own website. Yes, there is a cost involved in getting a website built by a professional. But, in most cases, the cost is dwarfed by the quality of work and time saved. I can do my own accounting as well, but it is cost effective for me to pay my CPA. Time is money.
Also, there are many security exploits in WordPress. By having a professional build your site, you can have much more confidence in the security of your site.
Many people think they have a design eye, but few can actually produce what they see in their head. Web design is a craft just like any other. Many of my DIY Website clients have built sites that look like they built it. They do not look like a professional built it. There is a difference. Those difference could mean thousands of dollars of revenue lost by your business. Think about it. You look for a service online. You find two. Both do exactly the same thing for the same price. One of them looks better and is easier to navigate. Which would you choose?
We make it look easy, but there is much more happening behind the scenes to make the site fast, responsive, secure, and intuitive to users. Not to mention all of the SEO features that we build in to make Google happy and get you ranked higher.
It seems to be so expensive to hire a web developer to build a eCommerce. Moreover, with such a great variety of business wordpress themes ( https://www.templatemonster.com/category/business-wordpress-themes/ ) available on the web, there is actually no need. Being a complete non-techie, I managed to set up my own website without special effort.
@Anonymous, thanks for sharing this resource. Many web-builders like WordPress, Wix and Squarespace are awesome and fairly easy to use. You can always use these to wire-frame your idea to cut down on developer expenses and iterate on UI
@butchewing it's a great question. Having the initial, honest conversation about expectations really builds a strong business relationship and ultimately ensures delivery of an awesome product!
Benefit of hindsight: The worst thing was NOT hiring someone.
Speaking as someone with one ecommerce web site that is now 17 years old, and some other sites, I'd definitely say that having one build it from scratch is going to be more fit for purpose in the long term than seventeen years of DIY scripting, html, Zend, PHP and java scrambled into one huge mess.
My website is so complicated now that I can't remember what half the code does, or in some cases even where it came from.
Definitely unless its only a few simple pages or based on an out of the box template, web design and proper web deployment is something you shouldn't skimp on, specially where SEO is a concern.
Started off with my first php coding done by my son before he went to university. But I learned from it that i's good to have code annotated so you can see how it works in case you need to change things later.
When I needed odd bits of code I looked for freelancers on E-Lance (Now called UpWork). Their whole system is very slick and easy for the customer to use.
I'd say the most important quality in a web developer or coder is someone who speaks your language, fluently, if he knows his job he will find it very easy to explain what he is doing in language a layman can understand, and he can understand what you want - and they should to be good at annotating the code so that you or a future web developer can see how it works. (sometimes you have to troll up your sleeves and dig into the code for something so mundane that you both missed it, like changing some spelling on the page from English US to english UK, or dollars to sterling or euros, or changes in tax rates. If it is annotated you won't need to bother your dev with it or wait for it to get done)
And once you find one good guy, stick with him. After a while he'll get to know you and your business.
@butchewing this is a great question! Earlier this year I hired someone to design a very simple website for me in Wordpress, thinking it would be easy to update. It generally it is - but every once in a while I run into something that I can't figure out on my own. I *hate* having to going back to my designer with the odd question, even if it takes her only a minute or two to answer. (I'm an independent contractor myself, and I know how those "quick questions" from old clients can add up to lost time.) I guess I'd feel better if our original contract had some provision for these little follow-up questions, and I think I even would have paid a bit extra to accommodate them. Just my two cents!