What should our customers expect from us (their website designer / developer)?
October 13, 2015
Short answer: to exceed your expectations.
Long answer: to exceed your expectations.
We aren’t trying to be sarcastic. Rather, we want to serve our customers in a way that is meaningful.
With each engagement we enter we ask a few simple questions:
- How can we exceed our customers expectation?
- Is this “INSERT PROJECT NAME” going to help the customer’s business bottom line or core objective in our opinion?
While this could be a sales’y piece about how great Ravenna is, lets be honest. No one hits the ball out of the part every single time. We are all works in progress, so this is more of a call to ourselves, and by you reading this, you.
So what should we provide to our customers?
Clear Communication: Communication is critical to every project. Now stop reading for a moment, and actually read this again: Communication is critical to every project. I think we get so focused on the task at hand and miss the bigger picture of an entire project. Customers should demand clear communication from us. We should keep from losing focus on the task we are looking at while providing frequent and clear engagement with each customer.
At Ravenna we do this very intentionally with a weekly in-person meeting. The goal of this meeting is to sit across or next to a human being/customer, and walk through a project status with them. We use the following bullets as our outline:
- Victories – what we achieved.
- Issues – where we fell short.
- Priorities – what will be done the following week?
- Metrics – how is the project progressing against the time line.
This outline has served us well as we engage different types of clients across industries. The caveat is that occasionally a phone/skype call can be used, but in-person should be the majority of the meetings.
No Cut-Corners: As designers and developers we have our own learned short cuts, optimizations, tricks. These are part of the value we are adding to the customer. What is concerning for example is the use of WordPress plugins. We have all logged into a customer site admin and seen 40+ plugins installed. This style of development is not beneficial to the customer. This is not adding to the customer’s bottom line or any objective. In fact it is likely working at odds with these things. This type of cut-corner is a concerning security hole, is un-supportable, and does not carry any benefit to the customer.
Another cut-corner is designers pulling to much inspiration from templates or agencies leveraging templates to lower costs. Inspiration is critical along the way in branding, visual design, and website design. Themes and templates have a certain value but they tend to “water-down” the web. As more sites look the same, the less a unique experience a customer has with your brand. That unique experience is what drives engagement with your brand.
Thorough Testing: How does your website look on the most recent iPhone? How does it look on that 27” retina display? Does all the content being shown help the mobile or desktop experience? Does the site look the same in Internet Explorer as it does in Safari? In addition to the responsive concerns, does the functionality work right? Is the admin easy to use?
Testing a website is a large job. Testing functionality, responsiveness, and usability are critical to a project success. Negative experiences are a traffic killer on a certain device size. A great Desktop experience paired with a poor mobile experience could lower traffic to your site by 30%.
Testing for Ravenna involves two primary questions:
- Does the site functionality work as planned
- Does the site and its content work across devices
Each question requires its own unique answer. Functionality testing is it’s own area of service, and responsive testing requires multiple devices and browsers. Thorough testing as a practice simply requires the team to be focused on a quality outcome and to continually check and recheck functionality, responsiveness and overall site performance.
So, what should a customer demand of us? Our best, our focus, our care. They have a business, project or team to run. Its our job to make the digital stuff, simple.