The Details That Matter

by Kevin Potts

42 Reader Comments

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  1. Most clients are on a budget, and its hard to spend a lot of time on making every little thing perfect. Especially when you know that explaining it won’t get you anywhere. The temptation is always to cut corners and make it work just good enough so the client is happy. This is true in every industry, its just that websites make it easier to do.

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  2. “Only the luckiest website builders actually build websites all day. Most of us are also part-time proofers, project managers, usability experts, design critics, navigational architects, therapists for copywriters, and general go-to experts on all thing interweb.”

    “…therapists for copywriters…” love it!

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  3. Kevin
    All of this hits home for me. Most of my clients give me a general idea of what they’d like and then let me run with it. They EXPECT that I will cover all bases and get it right.

    Occasionally, I run in to the opposite client. The one who has a complete vision and particular style they are looking for. While more demanding, and difficult, they do make me better. I have to be much more buttoned-up – as the phrase goes – and that helps with other projects as well. It’s always a learning process.

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  4. Thanks a lot, great article. To me, the “It’s never just about design” part was spot on. Just triple the options and it’s my job in a nutshell. ;)

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  5. I specifically love how you make reference to the constant two-way communication with shockingly uncreative people.

    I am a first year web designer and enjoyed this article.

    Thank you

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  6. I agree, much like with SEO, designing a site that works well for the user and the search engines are all about the details.

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  7. That was spectacular. Sitting here in my dark dungeon at 4am, coffee and hotpocket in their usual places, feet raised on my electronics toolbox and post-it notes filling my periphery, I can’t help but shed a little tear. Someone out there understands my pain.

    I’ve been working the angles since bulletin boards were hip. Those many years ago I thought myself clever, something akin to a Samurai but without so much blood and a far less impressive wardrobe. There were even a few years where I had others believing the same thing… we were pioneers with light sabers and tricked out vespa’s.

    Those days are gone. Now I’m the office curmudgeon… the cranky croc that sits by the watering hole just waiting for some enthusiastic accounting personnel to line up in my sights. I spend my days as a heat shield; deflecting harmful solar flares from clients and management so that my younger counterparts can produce with a regular consistency.

    A better day is coming friends… keep the dream alive. Keep it slim, keep it functional and by all means, make it pretty. What is a Samurai, without a cherry blossom to appreciate?

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  8. Firstly, I like it because I agree with it thoroughly. It matches one of my favourite axioms – there is no magic pixie dust, success online depends on doing many small things well.

    Secondly, while it is framed in design terms, for a design webzine, its principles are much broader. You could swap the word “designer” out and put in “editor”, “author” or “online consultant” and most of it would still hold good.

    Thirdly, it encapsulates so many of the key parts of professionalism – attention to detail, self-critique, peer review – in a very readable article.

    Well done!

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  9. It is, of course, more work to pay attention to details, to finish every last piece of work to a competent level. Doing less means getting it done faster and cheaper, of course, but then you have a cheaper result, and what’s the point, then?

    And there’s the other point: that clients and others involved in the process may not (and likely wouldn’t) have the whole picture, so it’s crucial to educate them in whatever way that’s easiest for them to grasp, so that they can provide their end in an informed manner.

    Yeah, it’s work. But if you want high quality craftsmanship …

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  10. I cannot agree more, actually I wrote a similar post weeks ago

    Edward

    Frontier Blog – No one ahead, no one behind
    http://www.hwswworld.com/wp

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  11. I’ve always been about the details. It’s good to see others feeling the same way.

    All to often I get clients looking to get the project done rather than taking the appropriate time to research & plan.

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  12. It is vital to have all aspects of design. The small details are what people look for, it makes you stand out from others and therefore make people more aware of your talent and service.

    People sometimes over look the smaller details, forgetting that people do in fact notice them. That little extra effort made creates a far more impressionable outlook on you.

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  13. A really interesting article. God is in the details.

    Stu.

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  14. RE: Phil, the first poster. What you ask says a lot about you. People who don’t know what you should be asking just want more for less and don’t care about anything that sounds like it might involve learning something new. Do what you have to do to get that portfolio fodder but don’t ask the proprietor of Bob’s Butcher Mart to care about semantics or the separation of presentation and content structure.

    If you lowball yourself when talking to other developers and web professionals, however it suggests that whatever your claims to the contrary are, you don’t take pride in your work or you’re just not competitive. Entry level IS a bargain to them if your work is good and your turnaround time is decent.

    So know your targets:

    Bob’s Butcher Mart, because you need the portfolio – ask for a very reasonable flat rate so you don’t have to sweat going over his budget and put as much time into it as you have available. Explain the reason you want a flat rate. It’s win/win if they didn’t need a site yesterday.

    A boutique with developers and design pros looking at your resume and portfolio – entry level. No less or they’ll wonder how much you really know about what you’re doing or whether you don’t have some problem they haven’t ferreted out in the application process.

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  15. I agree that the details can make or break a project, but I also agree with some of the comments made by Erik Reppen.  The market you target will play a major role in the level of project detail and price. If you are focusing on entry level small business sites, most small business owners won’t be sweating the details.  They will want a nice web site at a reasonable price. The larger projects like redesigns or a platform transition will be a situation where design element details will become a factor.

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  16. I’m also trying to build a business and temporarily cut my prices to entice new customers. After a few months with meager results I actually reversed that strategy and increased my price to about even with my competition. I found that I had better business and a better class of clientele with the higher rates. More people retained my services after a consultation. They are expecting to get what they pay for.
    “Phoenix Arizona Law Firm”:http://www.harperlawarizona.com

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  17. I just thought it just a design, but never consider them as long-run investment.

    Well, thanks to this good article.

    cyclocross veldrijden
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  18. I don’t take pride in your work or you’re just not competitive.
    “Wartrol Review“http://ezinearticles.com/?Wartrol-Review—-Finally-the-Truth&id=1551904

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  19. Interesting Article and Comments…  I was hoping to see more comments on the arguments/decisions that we must make for Search Engines and Sales Conversions.

    I know that I have no talent in design and pay professionals to do it, but spend a great deal of time working with or influencing the designs to be search engine friendly and improve sales. 

    Scott Jacob

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  20. Making internet it’s for those who like it. ‘Case it’s something that don’t stop to change, you have to keep constantly studing, looking for ways to make tools more acessible, more usable. I think this make the professionals of internet meticulous with details. But, one point that has to be viewed it’s our bosses. Who sometimes doesn’t understant about internet, but about time and money. And for them time is money. And instead of many want to be efficient and fast, I think time, a good time, research and patience it’s impressidible for every project. Even more whem you, like me, work in a small advertisement agency where there is only one person responsable for the design, for the programtion, for checking usability, and all the things that ivolves the internet projects. We have to learn every day how to show our bosses that details are very important in internet. And details are time.

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  21. Attention to detail shows your client you are paying attention to them. Nicely said.

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  22. I understand that you are offering your service at an introductory rate but in business the fastest way to lose clients is to change price. If you have a client that has been with you since the introductory price and you are expecting referrals you will be known by price then quality. I would do this only to build a portfolio of some sorts because it is a marketing expense

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