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How to be a good customer for your website developer

It has been a recent revelation that certain customers had a higher chance of success than others when it comes to website outcomes.

I am not sure if there are any statistics on this but I would bet that the number of successful sites are a minority.

It is such an issue that I have developed a customer profile question and answer sheet that helps me predict the likely outcome of a web project.

"The mechanic effect - just trust me" The mechanic effect

The Mechanic Effect The Mechanic Effect is where a customer has heard such horror stories that they assume every mechanic is dishonest or needs to be closely supervised.
Similarly web developers are often treated with mistrust due to previous bad outcomes and experiences.

For a successful website these 4 skills are required :-

  • Research the market
  • Communicate an effective message
  • Technical coding skills (it works and is easily and inexpensively maintainable)
  • Be found in Google (search engine optimisation)

Many developers have some of these abilities but few can effectively accomplish all.
However certain clients acheive better outcomes so the remainder of this article focusses on this.
Unlike motor mechanics the public has an opportunity to look at a web developers portfolio - even call up owners of websites to check if this developer suits you.

"No wonder the public mistrust web developers"

Why develop a customer profile?
One reason is that as a web developer I make much more money from my successful clients. The best customers are always those that have not already been burnt or had bad experiences with getting a website created. Part of the problem is a lack of obvious criteria that is used to judge the quality of a website.
What is a great website for one is not necesarily the same gem for another. To this end you need to establish before you start what a successful outcome is.
Usability testing can and should be used to ensure that what is being designed works. This is often avoided to cut costs often to the detriment of the site. Refer to this article on Usability Testing »

Customer Profile

Some of the issues that make for a successful site include:-

Business Potential
Business potential refers to the possiblity for growth and the suitability to the web. Incredibly some products and services are suited to the web and others are not. In this area we also look at the chances of success against the existing competition. Again there are often some real surprises here, some areas are way over done on the Internet yet others are almost untouched, with great potential for growth.

Business Skill
Business skill refers to the current success of the business or the skill of the individual. Generally the more business expertise a customer has, the better the outcome.

Financial Position
Is the business/customer in a good financial position. There are obvious cases of people who manage their finances well and others that no matter what they earn are in a constant state of debt. Some will throw money into poorly researched and risky ventures. Fiscal responsibility is important - it allows those ideas to be transferred to reality.

Is the business/customer in any disputes with other people or companies. Often these disputes are so time consuming and malicious they do not make for a good client.

Computer skills and knowledge
Is the business/customer able to run and maintain their own computer? Can they adequately provide updates to information in a timely manner. A small amount of knowledge goes a long way when it comes to effectively passing information to your web developer. Customers that can send even a word document with a rough version of what they want, including any images are far easier to work with than someone with no computer skills. Age is no barrier, email is one of the most efficient means of transferring information and needs to be used effectively.

Communicaton skills - availability
Is the business/customer reachable and do they return calls or reply to emails. If the person sponsoring the project is not actively involved or the contact you have is not prompt in supplying information it can be a disaster. Clients that do not reply to emails or phone calls and then call you (sometimes out of work hours or on weekends) are often too busy for their own good.


How did you go on my Customer Profile? If you think you would score well on this criteria - you should contact me as a matter of urgency. We will establish if there is a competitive niche and have a very good forcast of success. I can use various indicators on the web that will accurately predict your potential traffic and possibilty of search engine success.

Phil Hoile - GoldCoastLogin.com.au programmer
Griffith University Lecturer in industry courses
- e Business & advanced e Business
Email Me

"Knowing a little is sometimes enough"

Websites are complex and what may work in one situation completely bombs in another.

If you understand your business and have reasonable literacy and computer skills (or someone in your business has) you have a very good chance of succeeding on the Internet. Using similar principals as if you were getting a house built (experience counts) should ensure success.

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