Listen To Your Web Developer and Be Flexible for a Better Product

Today was one of those days. No, not one of ‘those days‘ where the only appropriate thing at this time of night would be to crack open a beer and dread the fact that tomorrow will be here soon. Instead I’m talking about one of those days that I actually really enjoyed my job.

Flexible Clients Make for Great Web Projects

So what made today so much better than any other day? I’m currently working on a few projects for various clients and it just seems that these particular clients are easy to work with and our projects typically go very smooth. Coincidently these are also some of my most demanding clients.

‘Easy’ is not so much a measurement of the level of tasks they send me or even the timelines they give me to complete the tasks. Instead it is how the relationship works. Looking back, I enjoyed today and I enjoy these clients because there is a true consulting relationship there.

They ask, we evaluate and we come up with a way to meet their challenge. The final method is not always what they had in mind when they first contacted me, but after some discussion an agreement is made based on cost, timelines, capabilities, etc.

The key ingredients here are trust and flexibility. I trust them to understand their business and they trust me to give them the best and most practical methods I know.

Why ‘Just Do As I Ask’ Doesn’t Always Work

So I went into focusing more on web support and website maintenance and less on full development a couple years ago. I did this because I love solving problems and I love when a specific task has a measurable start and end. So sometimes, I do really enjoy it when a client knows what they want and just wants it done.

However if I look back at what a bad day looks like compared to a good day, its when a client doesn’t want advise or is not flexible to how any challenge within their web application will be met. So the scenario unfolds; I advise the client that the proposed task may be met another way, or that the way they have asked to have something built might lead to unforeseen issues and they reply that they just want it done and are really not interested in my options.

Fair enough. I don’t typically interject unless I am worried that the client will not actually be happy with what they asked for or it will not reasonably work they way they expect. So this situation basically puts me as the developer in a failing position. Now not only do I have build out something that I feel is not right, but I’m just waiting for the not-so-happy email or call from the client once they realize that. That’s a bad day.

Looking back, I would say without question the projects I have worked on that have been the biggest successes and result in the happiest clients are where their is a solid web consulting relationship versus being a strict developer with a task list.

Post by Shane Larrabee

Shane Larrabee is founder of FatLab, LLC and has over 20 years experience as a business leader, web developer and online communication consultant.