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Issue № 116

Nipping Client Silliness in the Bud

by Published in Business, Industry, Project Management

A note from the editors: The forum associated with this article is now closed. Thanks to all who participated.

A significant number of ALA posts talk about unreasonable requests from clients. Either they want a Sony-level website on an AOL user’s look at my kitties budget, or else they want so many features added to their sites that they will become as unusuable as the original boo.com. I’m engaged in a project that may help keep your clients from acting stupid, but I can’t do it alone. I need your help.

It’s a book

The project is a book for Financial Times Penguin Putnam called Build Profits Online. It’s a business book, not a tech or web design tome, and it’ll be in the business section, not the computer section, of your local bookstore when it comes out early next year. The publisher is tossing huge gobs of promo money at this title, so chances are that it’ll sell pretty well, and that at least some of your clients will read it. If nothing else, it’s going to give you something authoritative to quote when you try to set a client straight.

This whole book idea grew from a conversation with a web developer friend of mine, who begged me to write something he could hand to clients and prospective clients and say, “Here’s the manual on how things are supposed to be done, written by one of the world’s most experienced and most widely-read Internet journalists.”

Yes, it took a lot of ego to write that last paragraph, but it’s true. I’ve been at this web game longer than most, and (surprisingly) I have managed to flummox a whole lot of people into thinking I know what I’m talking about. But the real secret of any success I may have had is in knowing how little I really know, combined with my willingness to cry “Help!” And that’s what I’m doing right now.

Stating the obvious

As a web designer or site developer, many things are apparent to you that may not be obvious to your clients. My favorite mistake on local business websites – and it’s one of the most common ones I see – is a failure to put the site owner’s complete business address prominently on every page that might be detected by a search engine.

“Think globally, act locally,” is a nice slogan. But few small business owners seem to understand that their website can be seen as readily by someone half way around the world as by someone down the street.

Perhaps making sure the city, state or province and country are part of the address shown on a site for a geographically limited business is something you do instinctively, but I assure you that it is not an obvious concept to most business owners until someone like you or me comes along and tells them why they have to do it.

Throw me a bone

So what are your pet client peeves? This is your chance to unload in a way that just might do some good. The best place to have your say is in the ALA discussion forum; I’ll be checking it almost every day, and may pop up with a comment of my own now and then.

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