In my last post, I talked about what it takes to be a good client. These guidelines apply whether hiring a web designer to create your business website or a painter to recolor your living space. You know how you want for the desired end result and you know what you can afford to spend. Good communication with a contractor means letting them in on those expectations.
I write about this as much to remind myself as I hire contractors as it is to share my insights for you when you hire one.
Define the desired end result
“We can hit the target, but you have to take off my blindfold and tell me where it is”
If I don’t know what a client is looking to accomplish and what my client likes, I am going to have a difficult time creating website architecture and a website design that will accomplish their desired end result. Of course, that means pinning them down to find out, and sometimes that can be an uncomfortable process. It’s easier for them to say, ”I’ll know what I like when I see it” than to say, “I like edgy but sophisticated. I like this that my competitor has done, but not this”.
However, it just isn’t fair to force someone else to be responsible for your happiness without giving them some guidelines and clarifying your expectations.
I once told a painter to use a blue-white rather than a yellow-white for a ceiling. He should have said then and there that all whites were the same to him or that he only used one white for a ceiling. So there was dissatisfaction when he used a yellow-white on my ceiling. When I fired him and was looking for a replacement, one guy came in with a palette ring of thousands of white chips and knew which was the best to use just by looking, and he was right. We both understood the desired end result, so the process was easier on us both.
Determine Your Budget – and Communicate It
Giving guidelines doesn’t stop with what you want in a project (or in your business website). It also extends to defining your budget. I always ask my clients their budget early in the process. As I say to them, I don’t ask their budget to see how quickly I can spend their money, but (for both of us) to keep in mind how much of what they want done we can do within their budget. There is no point in giving them a proposal for all they want if it’s well beyond their means – that is a waste of time and frustrating for both of us. Part of the desired end result is how much its going to cost.
I once had a client who kept adding features they wanted to the site after the original proposal. The site they were referencing cost a quarter of a million dollars. Their budget was less than 1% of that. My reminder:
“We can do anything you want, but do you have the budget for it?”