Usually, an event in the week prompts us to write a blog. The event this week was getting another email from another potential client which included the following line:
“I am so frustrated that I have wasted so much money with a developer and now I can’t get hold of him. There is tons of bugs we need to fix, and nobody wants to touch our website. Can you help?”.
This is not unique, as we get many variations of emails and calls for help like this, and most of the time we turn them down! Don’t get us wrong, we are keen on getting new business and making money, but we know when we should back off because we know the pain that comes with taking over a lazy design job!
Web design is supposed to be fusion of the customer’s needs with creative and technical solutions. The problem is most customers do not want to invest time to define their needs, because it is too time consuming and not very exciting! The web developers try to second guess the needs, and most of the time they miss it by a mile! Everyone gets disappointed, frustrated, and nothing really gets done.
The root cause of these problems is not a single issue but the unholy alliance of multiple factors namely:
To short cut this process, many clients take the easy route and tell the developer to check out a website that they like and “Make a website like XYS”.
Not withstanding Copyright issues, this is all very well when discussing aesthetic design, but this is of no use when it comes to functionality.
Most back office functionality of a website are hidden, and only become apparent once you subscribe to the service or make a purchase. Even then, you are unlikely to see all eventualities and “What if” scenarios.
The favourite of referral websites are AirBnB and Amazon (we probably get one request a week for these). We all use Amazon and some of us use AirBnB, but can you honestly say you know exactly how the reverse logistics in Amazon works? Or how the system handles cancellation on AirBnB? How about the way Payment process, user verification, calendar synchronisation with Channel Managers, etc. works on AirBnB?
Usually when we see this we tend to run a mile in the opposite direction!
Customers want to save money, which is understandable. Who doesn’t want to save money?
However, there is a cost involved in finding out the functionality of a referral website. This is called time, which any reputable and experienced developers will not give you for free. Experienced developers know all the pitfalls of “Referral Website” process. They know there are hidden “Poisoned Pills” somewhere along the process, and sooner or later they will have to take it!
Generally experienced developers will walk away from any project that is not well defined. This means the customer ends up with inexperienced chancers, which is a high risk strategy. Sometimes these risks pay-off and the customer gets a great website, but more often than not, the project comes to a grinding halt.
There are 2 documentation processes that are critical in development of any website or software project.
Both these processes cost time and money, so don’t expect them to be included in the cheapest bid. Also be warned, when it comes to updates, troubleshooting, bug fixing, etc., nobody can help you if you cannot provide these documents. Engineers will be looking for a needle in a haystack and that is not a cheap request!
Sorry, there is no lazy way!! Any website or software development project needs the following clearly defined:
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