Putting Clients at Ease: The Top Five Concerns of New and Potential Website Clients
After working in the website industry for a few years, you can’t help but notice a few similarities when it comes to new clients. Investing in a website can be intimidating for a number of reasons. Here is a list of what I have found to be the top five questions/concerns of new and potential website clients (and how I typically address them).
- “What if I don’t like the design? The contract states I get two design iterations, but what if I don’t like either?”
First of all, the people creating the website are (and should be) professionals trained and experienced in their field. It is their job to recreate a client’s vision in terms of layout, design and content. Before any design work begins, clients are asked a number of questions to determine requirements and preferences.
Web designers may begin with a “wireframe” that looks how it sounds—usually a basic black and white sketch of the general website layout, showing placement of content areas. They may also create a type of “mood board” showing colors, patterns, images, pieces of text etc. that denote the proposed look and feel of the site.
If by chance the first iteration of a design is way off (extremely rare in my experience), the reason for this will be determined before proceeding any further. Having large groups of people such as a board of directors involved in the process can lead to confusion and indecision. Having one or two people act as the decision makers will greatly improve the success of this stage and the project as a whole.
- Will I be able to update the website myself? Will I have to pay a high hourly rate for someone else to do it?
A Content Management System (CMS) is an application or piece of software used by website creators to allow users to update their website content at any time. Depending on the CMS, they may have a wide range of additional tools available. Some CMS’s enable full control of the site’s design, content and functionality. Websites not hooked up to a CMS limit the ability to update content efficiently, so clients should be made aware of this beforehand.
Depending on the comfort level, spare time or budget of the client, they can make the decision to have someone at their organization update content, or pay the website company to do so. An hourly support rate typically applies in the latter situation.
Lastly, support concerning website, programming or CMS errors determined not to be the client’s fault should be provided free of charge as part of the hosting fee. The same applies for CMS software updates. This is another item that should be written into the contract.
- Will the website belong to me even though you created and host it?
Other parts that make up a website (the “back end”) are the database, web server, Content Management System (CMS) and source code. These items are leased or licensed to the client in order to house and run their website.
The good news is that the parts you own can be transferred and rebuilt on any platform. This brings me to the next commonly asked question:
- What happens if I decide to change companies in a couple of years?The process of changing companies should be relatively straightforward in terms of transferring the website. Since the “front end” of the website (as defined above as the HTML/CSS, visual design and content) is typically owned by the client, it can be sent to the new company in order for them to assemble it on their chosen “back end” setup. If a client has prepayed for hosting or other monthly fees, the contract will determine if and how much money is returned or refunded.
- The contract states ___ number of hours. Will I be charged extra if it goes over?
A website contract may state a specific number of hours to be billed at an hourly rate, or an overall total amount. If the project takes longer than expected, a conversation usually takes place as to whether this incurs additional costs. If the project is based on a number of hours, in my experience it is more likely that additional time will be billed. Setting an overall amount instead may avoid extra cost.
If a client requests additional functionality or design elements, an estimate to cover the extra work may be provided, depending on the complexity. Clients can then decide whether or not to sign off on this.
The numbers provided are an estimation based on the communicated needs of the client. Companies look at past projects and compare the original estimate to the actual time it took for completion. Using this information, they can make more accurate predictions in the future. They may also add a little “padding” to cover any potential overages.
In summary, being prepared and addressing a client’s concerns early on can be vital. It will help ensure the process runs smoothly and clients are happy. Happy clients tend to communicate more effectively. It can also mean the difference between whether or not a potential client takes the plunge and signs the contract.
For the client, asking questions and being fully aware of what to expect during the process is important. Your website is not only a substantial (and extremely worthwhile) financial investment, but also a representation of yourself and your company to your market area.
Understanding and addressing the top concerns of new website clients will allow for a much more efficient and enjoyable experience. The end result will be a website both the client and website creator will be proud to showcase.
Answering the Question: Why Do I Need a Website? »