[thelist] What would you do?

Paola Kathuria paola at limitless.co.uk
Wed Apr 11 18:24:40 CDT 2001

"Gina K. Anderson" wrote:
> I really don't seek direct with client work, I hate holding someone's hand,
> yakking about their site..I'd rather spend my time in front of the computer,
> hacking it out. Therefore, I do mostly subcontracting work with other design
> firms. [...] I enjoyed that kind of exchange and catering to [hairdressing
> clients], but honestly--web design clients make me nuts. I wish they were
> as involved and knowledgable about what they wanted in a web site as they
> are about what's on their head. ;)

I understand what you're saying - however, I see your situation
as an opportunity for you to make more money.  Of course, if you
don't enjoy doing certain things, don't do them but I think that,
when competing with other freelancers or companies, any value you
can add - in terms of the skills and services that you can offer -
can only make you more appealing to a potential client.

It took me a while but in my first discussion with potential
clients (usually on the phone), I try to get past their
description of a solution - "it's got to have animated GIFs
and lots of interactivity" - to a description of the problem
they're trying to solve with a web site - "we're launching a
new brand/product", "we want to sell into Europe" or "we want
to be seen as leading edge".

I find that, once you get to this, the little they do say about
what they think needs to go on their site makes sense and I can
give feedback on it (some ideas may be great but others may be
overly complicated).  One can then also suggest other ways of
solving their problem (even if it's sometimes a non-web site
solution).  When companies say "hmmm, no one else said any of
this", you know you're in with a good chance!

We (that is, when I used to work for a web dev company) then
have some idea of what is possible and give a fairly broad
ball-park estimate.  The first step of the project is often to
figure out the requirements in detail (as a billable piece of
work), after which we can give a proper quote for the site.

This approach worked very well for us as it gave companies an
opportunity to get to see us in action without committing to a
big piece of work.  We would tell them beforehand that they can
walk away after the requirements phase or that they can take the
requirements to another company to implement.  As I said before,
I do enjoy these first phases more but I also think it's part
of what the "design" should mean in "web designer" (or, certainly,
"web consultant").

That all said, I avoid working on projects where I would never
meet the client and I - personally - avoid sub-contracting.  I'd
forgotten how small the UK is and that my being close to London
makes it easier to meet clients.  Is it common elsewhere for web
folk to work for people they never meet?  And, for the people
reading who hire web designers, how do you choose who to hire
when you can never meet any of them?

Paola, hoping she's on-topic

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