Web Design Loyalty
by Raymond Lamb
Web Design Loyalty
Web Design Loyalty has become a larger problem over the years. Clients jumping ship to the next web designer or design firm that promises them huge results. I blame the phenomenon on the amount of designers, freelance or otherwise, that have saturated the market. I’m not throwing stones however, because I fit in that same category. Let’s talk about the problem and potential solutions.
Most of the problem when it comes to Web Design Loyalty starts with the client, and their lack of knowledge on the subject and just what it takes to get the job done. That’s where it becomes crucial for the web designers to educate these potential clients on what exactly it takes to get the job completed and above all, be realistic about it. Most of these clients aren’t going to know anything about the technical terms you will be throwing around (hosting, DNS, propagation, WHM, VPS, etc.); and that’s where some web designers might see an opportunity to take advantage of that lack of understanding. But taking the time up front in the beginning might save you work or even earn you more work in the long run.
If a designer takes an extra step in the beginning of a project to go over some of the details and outline the steps that they plan to take to get this new project completed, the client will be more comfortable through-out the process. Most of us, especially me, want to see results, something getting done, so we want to rush to setup a new hosting package, or new account on our server, install some website software and get things started. This is normally the fun part for me, it’s when you can see the largest results, before you get into the “work” of content creation and fine tuning and client reviews.
But back to the problem at hand. If you don’t take the time up front to explain to the client what you are capable of, or the steps you plan to take, or just all of the tools and knowledge you have at your disposal; you are leaving the door wide open for someone else to come in and take your client and work away from you. For instance if you don’t make it known that you can provide a security solution, or a backup solution, email solution; then they may never know. Some of these clients may be tasked with finding these solutions on their own, and where do they turn, Google. The client won’t think to ask the web designer because it’s been months since they’ve talked to them and this couldn’t be related, could it???
About four to five years ago I was hired to build a new website for a company. They had a very basic HTML site that was fine fifteen years ago, but they needed something new and mobile friendly. So I set to work building a new site, new features, mobile friendly; everything they asked for. Got the site finished and live online in short order, they loved it, I got paid, case closed. I typically try to check in with all of my clients regularly to see if they need anything; updates, new ideas, anything at all. But I will be the first to admit this one didn’t get the attention it deserved and I paid for it.
About two years after the site was finished, I was sending a new potential client some reference site links of past work and was going to include this one as well. I browsed to it and to my surprise it was nowhere near like I had left it. Another company had come in behind me and had taken my design, pictures, etc. changed some things around and slapped their name right in the footer. I tried to be the better person and not be upset about it, but it was difficult to do. It’s like when a girlfriend breaks up with you with no explanation, and you’re left wondering what you did wrong. Where was the web design loyalty then, what happened? I thought I’d never know and figured it was petty to just call them or email and ask what happened? So I left it alone and moved on to the next job.
Fast forward about four years later. I get a call from a marketing company that has been called in to revamp the entire brand for this company that I originally did the site for. They understood that I did the original design and wanted me back on board for the redesign as well. The pieces were starting to fall into place. I finally figured out that a different marketing company had come in behind me and promised the moon and stars and that they could drive more traffic to the site and do social media posts, etc. etc. Without consulting with me to see if I could perform the same tasks the company jumped ship and went with the other website designer, again, no web design loyalty at all. After a few nightmare years with this marketing company with no results, they decided to cut their losses.
After quite a bit of money spent and time wasted, we are back to where we started. The company has another brand new website and is getting the results they were after. I’ve teamed up with the new marketing company to make sure everything they need is accounted for. Most if not all of these issues could have been avoided altogether by simply asking me if I offered those services or could handle it for them. But I can’t completely pass the blame, it was just as much my fault for not educating them on what I could do for their business.
In order to retain web design loyalty, web designers have to be diligent about educating potential or existing clients on their services and capabilities. Most of us have some sort of website that outlines these services, but we can’t rely on clients to actually go there and read anything. Perhaps it’s just a quick numbered list of services you provide that you email to them. Or it’s a newsletter you send out to remind people what you can do to help their site and business grow.
The moral of the story is that if you expect clients to give you web design loyalty you have to do something about it and be proactive. You cannot afford to sit back and hope they return.
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