Robert Craven's book is 'Bright Marketing - why should people bother to buy from you?'. (And his latest is 'GROW YOUR SERVICE FIRM'.)
Most, not all!Madge
You need to find the one that 1) understands marketing and 2) writes copy and 3) designs a pretty website and 4) writes good code and 5) understands about the money metrics. Few and far between. They all claim to do the lot but not the case in my experience.
Great article - do take time to read it all, you'll learn a thing or two - and the crunch is at the end:"In so many cases the business abdicates responsibility for the website to a web developer in the mistaken belief that ‘they know best’. While the web developer knows about websites, they are likely to know little or nothing about the client’s business and even less about the customers who will use the website."Once again: it is so important to have the strategy and tactics in place (or better: firmly known throughout your whole business, even if you are a small team) and then to look at the tools you need to implement and execute them.Stating "my website" does not work and it's down to the webdesigner is too easy.Karin H
Robert, this is a great article. Thanks for posting it.I love the fact that there are cowboy web designers - because we get so much work fixing their mistakes!We've been designing website for over 16 years and we're still in business because our focus starts with our clients' bottom line.Dennis Burn (above) is quite right when he lists 5 qualities that a good web design company must have. They should be adept in them all, though not necessarily expert. Specific experts can be brought in, but your web company (perhaps web partner would be more accurate) needs to be able to sythesise those elements with the following to produce a cohesive whole:1. Your business aims2. Your business' personality3. Your business aims and goalsI suggestthat when choosing a web partner, you should look for an ability to clearly understand your future plans and articulate them back to you. This can be done in their proposal document or even in meetings, but you must satisfy yourself that they can do this. Failing to do this can lead to you assuming that they understand you better than they do.Experience has taught us not to rely on a brief from our clients, but to produce our own, based on our discussions, which we then feed back to the client before they sign up. That way, goals can be identified clearly and results measured. Which means you're more likely to achieve them.A website is just another tool to help you achieve your business aims. This article makes the extremely valid point that your relationship with your web designer should be an ongoing partnership. It should never be a strictly client-supplier arrangement. Your web partner's income is dependent on your success, so keep them close.If there's one last tip I can share it's this: meet regularly with your web designers and share a coffee. They are creatives, so there's nothing they want more than for your website to do it's job really well so they can be praised for creating it.
We listen to our clients and deliver high quality work and exceptional customer service. Our clients love us! Check us out here: http://www.teckpert.com
While I will look at Ash's website I am afraid that Adrian's comment makes him look like a cowboy. How ironic or maybe he just doesn't get it.Jerry
Excellent article. As a copywriter I've now developed telepathic powers and I can read minds too. Ah, how I wish! Not all web designers are cowboys, but maybe some could be better communicators? I've worked with web designers worldwide and just once in a while you meet with a designer who really, really understands communication, provides a brief and I'm almost sure he can read minds too! Rocket Powered Web Design www.RocketPowered.co.uk have just designed my website www.jcomcopy.com. See what you think?
It is interesting that the shorter the comment then the more it looks like a nasty ad and you pay the author little or no respect.And the longer the comment, then the more you take them seriously and think about looking at their website to check them out.Robert, there seem to be a number of blatant ads appearing on this blog. Shame.Madge
Personally I have been disappointed by the professionalism of many in the web design trade. So, yes, Robert has made a sound point.R
and the big BUT is about how well we as clients take our responsibility to give the designer a decent brief. They need to help us to flesh out the brief but we need to be clear about what we want.Jane Tomkins (not a web designer)
This on the other hand is taking the p*ss. Sorry but what right have you got to make judgements about web designers.No doubt you think that either1) your website is great because of what you addedor2) it is disappointing because of the web designerDoh! - you just don't get it. It is rarely if ever the fault of the web designer. WE do a fine job. It is just stuck-up clients that you that cause the problems.No offence but you need to get your facts sorted. Web designers are the salt of the earth and it is people like you that give us a bad name.You say something about looking in a mirror to see the answer. I suggest that you do.JM
Oh James - thou doth protest too much. Maybe if you look at things through the eyes of the customer then you might understand what we are all talking about!Madge
And does the 'industry' appear to be doing anything to rectify this sad state of affairs? Seems like a golden opportunity for someone or has the boat gone out too far?
"And does the 'industry' appear to be doing anything to rectify this sad state of affairs? "That would be the same as asking any "industry" to rectify any sad state of affairs (wooden flooring installed cheaply by "cowboys"). Is the industry doing anything about it?YesAre clients listening to the advice?No, if they can get it cheap no amount of professional advice by the industry will change their minds.Not an action for the "industry". Anyone eager to show how it is done properly, no matter in which industry, can take advantage of the sad state by showing/teaching/advising how things should be done and change the mind-set of clients.
A familiar theme on this blog.The sad state of customer service in Industry A. Incompetent delivery. Lack of care. Customnes buying on price. Surely, it is up to you (or rather US) to break the circle.Colin
I still struggle to see why there seems to be no way of proteting innocent customers from the cowboys. Other than word of mouth, that is.Jerry
Firstly I would like to thank Robert publicly for posting a link to my article ‘Are all webs designers Cowboys?’ I can see that it has caused quite a stir and I look forward to coming back from time to time to see how this develops.The article took some time to research and to draw my conclusions from the evidence. I have had a range of responses from all over the world, the main reaction has been agreement with my article and its title. Business owners and marketing executives have invariably been at odds with their web developers. Most accept that they did not brief the developer in the beginning but many agreed with my statement that too many of the developers they had sites built by confused their own skills for the functionality of the software they were using.One comment here which is repeated in other forum and blog posts is the price of the project. If you were to start a business in the high street then the cost of the shop or office and the price of decorating and furnishing that office would be accepted as part of the set up cost. When it comes to a website, business owners and those in charge of the budgets think it is OK to pay as little as possible.A web developer has to make a living and if you want an online presence that will do justice to your business then you have to invest.In the middle of last year we worked for a client who runs a small construction company. He paid a small amount of money to a web developer to build a website for him. Three years later the site had produced less than £2000 worth of business. The owner of the website read my book and decided to take the plunge and invest in a professional to help him get the most of his online presence. We worked with a developer and within a month the new site went live. It took three weeks for the new site to generate a 700% return on the investment. Since then the business owner has done over £300k of business from his site. We have all heard of stories like this and take them with a bit of salt but believe me when UK retail sales online are reaching £1billion per week something is happening. Our customers are using the internet to get their shopping done. Businesses are seeking suppliers online and they are placing orders with those companies that present their products and services in a way that is easy to navigate, does not present barriers when they enter the website and the user is able to understand, trust and have the confidence to place the order.Our research shows that online users are task orientated and if you try the hard sell, make life difficult or present more than one offering on the page they will hit the back button and return to the search results to go to another site.Thank you all for your comments and make sure that you convey your requirements to your developer before they start building your site.Remember the website is not for you it’s for your customers… try to think like them.Nigel T Packer
Well, there's a fine line between participating (and networking) and paticipating (and writing adveristing copy). Ash seemed to get it right but some of the others seem a trifle dumb to me. Shoot yourself in the foot or what. See the later posts from Robert re selling and trying too hard.
As mentioned elsewhere,why do people insist on "plugging" themselves and turning off anyone who might be vaguely intelligent. They should be less self-serving.
Sorry to be repeating myself but what do you expect from someone without a proper business education and few qualifications.Yvonne
Interesting. I run a busy and successful web development company, and I know why many of the problems occur. Lack of education on both sides! Firstly, the problem with websites is what you can do with them is getting more and more amazing, but underneath the pretty page there is a very complex computer program - often totally bespoke to your business. I used to be an architect (of the buildings variety) before I got in to IT, and believe me, some of the websites we do now require more complex planning than the hotels I used to work on "drawing up", but no one ever questions the word OR the fee of an architect. But web developers? Too many customers want something for nothing.Secondly, sure, there are some cowboy web developers, I know a few - but the majority are not cowboys, they simply have no experience of managing clients and will take jobs too readily. That's the key here. This still works if the client is smart, amiable, understands that websites are complex things, knows exactly what they want and understands who they're dealing with. But when this is NOT the case, that's when the wheels fall off!We do fine, in fact I can honestly say I don't believe we've ever had a disatisfied customer in coming on for 2 years of trading in a difficult industry and a recession, and I believe the main reason is:We know what we're doing, we know what information we need and we know how we need to work to keep everyone happy - if a client doesn't want to work our way, they don't want to work with us, period.That may sound arrogant, but there is no point starting out with a client who does not know what they want, does not want to do the groundwork and does not want to pay for someone else to do the groundwork. This is a situation we find a lot and we end it quick with "Sorry, we can't help you."Spend one week working new business for us and you'll be amazed how many people contact us and have a conversation something like this:Prospect: "I want something like Amazon to sell my stuff on."Me: "That's kinda vague, do you have any more specifications than that?"Prospect: "No, we just want Amazon, but just with our stuff."Me: "Ok, how much money is allocated in your business plan for this shopping site you have in mind?"Prospect: "We want to keep it under £5,000 for now, but in the future we'll spend much more."Me: "You want Amazon for less than £5,000... and you have no internal plan yet at all?"Prospect: "Um, no."Me: "I don't think we can help you."The problem is too many web developers don't say "I don't think we can help you" - they say "let's see what we can do".MISTAKE!!! This person needs £5,000-worth of consultancy to just help them understand what they want, and yet they're saying £5,000 is as much as they want to spend. This person will be the one telling everyone who'll listen all web developers are cowboys in 3 months time, when they've been stripped of their £5,000, they don't have Amazon, they don't even know how to use their new site and anyway, it's not what they had in mind.These developers are no more cowboys than the clients are "idiots" (the flip side of this is most of the web development crowd say "all clients are idiots"). But all you have now is another client saying all web developers are cowboys and another web developer saying all clients are idiots. Business as usual.It takes two to tango, both parties are naive and unreaslistic and the result is a mess.
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