[thelist] How to Talk Down to the Client (WAS: getting rid of the quote builder)

Joel D Canfield joel at spinhead.com
Wed Dec 8 12:17:58 CST 2004

[I'll try to make these comments stand alone so I don't have to quote
extensively from your extensive and interesting query]

I find that my clients/prospects tend toward the less technical end of
the range, from 'slightly computer literate' to 'absolute zero.'

I do find that the farther down the techlit chain, the more grateful
they are, and I love explaining technology in terms anyone can
understand. "A little learning is a dangerous thing" - the ones who know
a little bit often think they know more than they do, and are more
difficult to deal with on occasion. But it's usually just a matter of
personality as much as technical knowledge.

Why does your explanatory web writing need to be 'more formal'? I'd
write a high level overview aimed at what *you* consider 'average'
technical level for your current (or desired) clients. Then, in every
place where you think it might be over *anyone's* head, provide linkage
to clear, simple, and yes, humourous, explanations in excrutiating
detail. (Write like a newspaper: critical info in the headline,
important stuff in the first paragraph, then continue in descending
order of importance until you get to the fun trivial stuff in the last

As I said, I love teaching technology, and most of my clients appreciate
it (or ask me to stop 'cause they don't care, which is fine, too ;) The
ones I end up avoiding and hoping they'll go away, it's really because
they're demanding and unreasonable - and they'd be that way whether we
were dealing with technology or ditch digging.


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