NRCW Clients are the heart and soul of our existance. Drew Eppley is the passion and drive for continuing success at unprecedented (and well recognized) growing levels of achievement. There are a few things Drew needs you to know before partnering with his company by investing in his talent, skills and time. He requires all clients sign this document!
NRCW LLC is a Professional Company & Skilled Consultant – We Are Not Contract Labor
Understand that we are a professional creative company with the unique but similar talents, skills and experience that other professionals or individual web developers might have. When working with web media and online marketing we find that there is a common mind set around customer interactions. Most people don’t tell their doctors or electricians how to do their jobs… why? Because most people recognize that doctors and electricians know more about their respective trades than they do. This seems to change with web designers though because a lot of clients think that simply surfing the web qualifies them to make design decisions… which means that they usually treat web designers as extensions of their own minds.
Because of this false-perception, clients often take creative professionals like us for laborers who were born to do our work, not experienced professionals that are an equal part of the design process. Most of our clients start out with the mindset that because we don’t have an office, we don’t have any work hours. It is important to us that we educate our clients about our set times of the day that we work. When clients understand this concept, it really helps establish a respectful work relationship. We are professionals just in the same way you are but we do need time for myself, my family and all other things in the world also.
Website Media vs. Print Media
Some clients, especially the ones who are going through the web designing process for the first time, are unable to differentiate between print medium and the web. We often encounter this with older clients who are familiar with print advertising but are just now venturing into the web. For us, we take for granted that our entire lives have probably been spent surfing the web but it’s still important for us to remember that there is a very large segment of the population for which the web is still a strange and foreign place. Taking the time to educate our clients on the subtleties of the web can help clients understand that sometimes a simpler design will have a much more positive impact on your customers than the well known website that starts playing music when you access it (might have dancing cats too?). There are also the clients who want to make (rather force) their website look like a brochure of their product or service. Being an expert in the field, it is our responsibility to inform our clients that although the website can be made like a brochure, doing so will often fail to tap the real power of the internet which will ultimately set those clients up for failure on the web.
Attitude & Impositions
Communication is crucial. However, there is a difference between having an open line of communication with our clients, and our client feeling as though their voice commands every move of our mouse and keyboard. The moment a client wants to begin micromanaging a design, they will probably get an email or call from Drew wanting to discuss with them over whether they just want to take over the project themselves. This is more of an attitude concern than a practical issue. Most clients won’t get this way unless they feel like we’re incompetent or otherwise failing to understand their project. Taking the time early on in a project to really communicate, explain (and ask questions) about what the client is looking for in a website can help avoid the need to teach this lesson at all.
Drew’s Passion vs. Client Objectives
Drew will often go out of his way to please my clients from making endless edits, adding in features that were never discussed, or giving in to every whim of his clients. Usually he ends up feeling snubbed or mistreated. To me this can feel like some clients have a superiority complex and simply exist to get in the way of our creative masterpieces.
Communication is Key
Lack of communication and miscommunications could destroy an entire project. As a designer, we don’t have a crystal ball to read our clients’ minds so explaining the importance of their feedback and involvement at each step of the project is vital. This is a unique problem for web designers and we’ve been through it with many clients. Many clients tend to be very involved and vocal at the start of a project, but can become distant and increasingly quiet during the middle stages of a project. This leads designers to believe that everything is going well, until the end of a project when the client shows up with a laundry list of edits or decides to take another path. I know it takes time away from your day but we need regular communication from our client’s during the entire partnership process. From an issue as large as payment or billings to a matter as small as color combinations of the website, regular communication between us and our clients will help produce a better product within the limited time allowed each month.
Revisions & Changes at Launchtime or End of Leased Content Contract
One of the worst habits of some of our past clients is to ask for last minute changes, no matter how major or minor they are. I have seen clients who, after making the designer go through a tiring design process, approve a final design, only to change their minds at the last minute. To the client changing the color from red to black might seem a minor job, however, what they don’t know is that you might have to go back to the source file, export all the slices, modify the style-sheet, modify some other details to complement the new color, and the list goes on. At this point, you need to make your client understand that there is no such a thing as ‘one small change’ and that they should finalize everything once and for all, before the actual product gets public. Revision rules our outlined in the contract. Explain them in detail before both parties sign the contract, and when problems arise later on, invite them to go back and read what they signed. Make it very clear when revisions and change-requests are allowed, and stick to your rules. It can even be helpful to build in costs associated with requests made after a certain date, just to help re-enforce the lesson.
NRCW LLC’s Flexible & Reasonable Deadlines
Every client in the world wants their site done “as soon as possible”. That’s fine… when I ask order a cheeseburger, I want it done quickly too. The problem that most web designers have is in 1) setting deadlines that they can actually meet and 2) explaining these deadlines to their clients.
Let’s address the first problem quickly with a rule that’s never let me down: Whenever you make a time estimate for a website, take at least an hour or two to go through each step of the project and attach a time estimate (ie: design phase 1 = 3 days). Then, when you’re all done, add everything up and triple it.
The simple fact is that you can always work faster (clients will be excited if you finish early!), but the moment you run into a problem, delay, or life-emergency, your clients are going to be seriously frustrated if you can’t meet your deadlines.
Next: take the time to set project milestones and explain each one to your clients. Explaining why you set the project milestones the way that you did can even help to educate clients about what it is that you’re doing at each step in the project, which should help with any communication problems as well.
What are NRCW LLC’s Expectations from me?
It is vital that both sides of web agreement understand the the timeline, budget, scope, and more importantly, the nature of the project(s) before we partner together.
The Terms In Your Contract Are Meant To Be Followed
Having a detailed service contract / terms of partnership & service is the single most important way to teach our clients about our services and a way to communicate and train clients to work best with our company. The following details are important to us:
Requirements for Feedback
Reasonable Work Hours
Licensing Rules (who owns what at the end of a project)
The Budget (and the cost of overtime requests)
Our terms of service should be reviewed with every client. How many “contracts” have you signed in your life that you’ve never read? Lots of them, I’m sure. That’s probably fine if you’re signing a cell phone contract and want to avoid reading 25 pages of legal mumbo jumbo, but this should never be the case with your NRCW LLC web project contract. Drew has taken a lot of time and made many revisions and additions to help both sides of the partnership and it is worth your time to read it over with Drew to ensure that you fully understand what you are getting into.
One of the main challenges for any service-oriented business like NRCW LLC / Drew Eppley is to learn to manage clients successfully (for both parties). Educating our clients has always been the most successful way to maintain good long-term working relationships. Web development, being an integral part of the service industry, follows the same rules. For Drew it has been a long road to be able to stand up to our clients and is one of the hardest things he has ever have to do, but it’s something Drew needs to be doing regularly in order to turn the web designing process into a pleasant experience for both himself and his clients.
A few questions we like to know about our clients before we partner with them:
Are you willing to devote time to our consultants to maximize your return on your investment?
I [Client’s Name] have received a copy of the new client survey and will do my best to uphold and respect the professionalism of NRCW LLC.