Open Letter to Web Design Agencies

If you can design a fast flyer for a nonprofit organization when there is no work around the office, do it! Moreover, you can participate in the open source community answering questions or contributing with code.

First, let me start by saying that we are in this business because we love what we do. But, that does not change the fact that we also are working in the field because we need to make money as well. This post is for web design, marketing, SEO, development agencies or companies discussing how I think things should work. I am not an “expert” on everything, but I think that we need to be a little clearer with our clients and let them know certain things up front. Here are some suggestions for the business overall.

The Customer is Not Always Right

When the firm is hired to do a job, the firm always considers the target audience and what should work for the business. In no circumstances should the stakeholder be allowed to make drastic changes in the project that don’t improve the user experience. You, as the agency, are the expert and need to keep your feet on the ground for changes that are based only on the stakeholder preferences. You cannot be a child hired just to draw with the computer, you are a professional firm dedicated to provide the best experience possible with your designs. When stakeholders still want the changes even after you explain to them that it may affect the overall design or functionality of the application/site, then you can tell them that you are willing to do the changes even if you don’t recommend it. However, the project is not going to be showcased on your site as part of the portfolio because it goes against best practices in the design and development. That usually scares them because they know that if you are saying this, the decision they are making is wrong. Please remember, you are the professional and you should be trusted because of your experience and education. Nobody tells a doctor or a lawyer what to do. When you go to them, you are trusting them to do the best job possible with your case. The same should happen in all professions, including web design.

Different Projects, Different Prices

The fixed price for everything does not work. Typically, when asked for a price without details, never provide an estimate because most of the time they will be wrong. When you say that the project might cost around $3,000 dollars, for example, the clients tend to believe that that is the top price and that they will get everything they want.
Every project is different and means different things to different clients. We should charge based on the project, the size of the company, and what it means for the business. For example, you cannot have the same hourly price for Microsoft as you do for a freelance photographer. The website for a large corporation, if successful, it will deliver millions of dollars in sales where the fruitful business of a photographer may be expected to reach the thousands of dollars.

Don’t Take Everything

I know that some agencies have to take projects that they don’t even want because they have to pay bills. However, taking projects like this means that you won’t work as hard as you should because you are not inspired by the project. Moreover, if a good project comes along, you must either reject it or take the new project while leaving the one that you already took in limbo. Thus, this will be bad for your reputation, since the client already trusted you with the project. So, in both scenarios you lose.

Collaborate with Other Agencies

There is nothing wrong with collaboration with other agencies. At least, an agency should build a good reputation and relationship with similar business in case the workload of the other businesses is too high that they can refer business and projects to yours. In addition, if your company does not specialize in a field, let’s say mobile development, you can refer clients to other agencies in exchange for more work in the one that you are specialized. This will benefit both companies and will keep the clients happy with the best product that can be produced by both companies.

Help the Community

This is very important because by helping the community, you are giving back to it while inspiring young people to do the same. When I talk about community, I mean everybody in general. If you can design a fast flyer for a nonprofit organization when there is no work around the office, do it! Moreover, you can participate in the open source community answering questions or contributing with code. Even writing an article about web design or web development that you think the community will find useful is benefiting the community. These are ideas, but if you have other ways to give back to the community, you are welcome to share them here.

Take your Time

Don’t try to deliver an unfinished product because you need to finish fast to take the next project. Plan for events that may happen during the development of the project. Nothing goes entirely smoothly, and you need to be prepared with enough time to solve it. Your reputation on delivering a great product, even if it takes a day more, is better than delivering a product with a lot of bugs that make it unusable. Users won’t forget and come back to your site if you do it, and because of that, you will also lose your client.

The Right Tool for the Job

I see a lot of projects where developers jump into a CMS without studying the needs of the project. For example, if the website is not going to be constantly updated and only needs 3 to 10 static pages, why not use pure HTML files? Why jump into WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or any other CSM, when it is not needed. This would make the project more expensive because you will have to transform those HTML files into templates for the CMS. Also, it will need other resources like a database that wouldn’t be needed with static files.

By using static files, you will save time and resources that end up saving money to your clients. If you need a way to maintain those static files, you can use a static file generator that will act as a CMS without needing a database. The more technologies involved creating a project, the more chances of failing or breaking with new updates. Thus, it is better to start small and stay small as much as we can, so we can save money and avoid unnecessary problems.

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