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What's your Web Business Protocol?

From start to finish

10:25 am on Dec 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I'm just starting my own Web Design company and was wondering if anyone can share their protocol from start to finish? I'm not asking for any of your secrets mainly just general info on how to make my practice a good one.


2:39 am on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

What kind of information are you asking for? The whole design process or from the very start of speaking with a client?
5:45 am on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Sorry, I should have been more clear. I want to know what the business process is like?
6:07 am on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Your question is extremely abstract and could be answered in dozens of ways. What exact process are you looking for input on?
6:23 am on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think you need to be more clear than that. You mean starting your own business? Getting clients?
8:49 am on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Ok, let me try to articulate this the best I can. What is your face-to-face meetink like when you meet with a client? I'm not to experienced in the "sales" department. I'm curious how a normal sales deal would be like. Do you try and close the deal and get a percentage up front, or do you give a quote and follow up later with the client? Also, when finalizing a transaction do you bring a laptop with you to show the final product or do you call your client and have them look at the site online prior to publishing.

You know, just stuff like this. I'm just trying to get an idea of what other webmasters are using as their protocol

2:17 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

well, for starters, i usually don't give much credence to those who say to me "oh i'm thinking about getting a website! how much do you charge?", and variations of that statement. you learn quickly who is serious and who is not. avoid folks who speak like this:

"i'm about to be fixin' to go up there and start about working on a degree so i can be a brain surgeon one day."

usually, the whole 'start up' process is split into sections for me. first speak: ideas thrown around, get a feel for the potential client. second speak: offer a proposal and more solid ideas, close the deal on second or third speak (or even later, depending on the circumstances).

at the end, if there is ANY question as to whether i will get paid or not, i will provide the website as a program (similar to an ebook) and take it with me.

there are tons of variables, as each situation can be very different from what you've ever dealt with before no matter how long you are in the business.


4:02 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

It also depends if the potential client is a startup or existing business.

When I talk to client that is a startup, I try to get a copy of a written business plan so I have a good idea where the website fits in (part of the marketing plan? e-commerce? both?)

If it's existing business, I ask similar questions as to why they want a website and how they expect it to boost business. I also try to get a handle on the image they want to portray and who they are trying to sell to. Obviously a site that sells Harley Davidson parts would have a completely different look and feel than one selling sewing machines.

Once you have an idea what the client wants and have a clear view of his expectations, you then have to tell him if you can help him and whether those expectations are real. After you have a meeting of the minds, then you can start discussing price.

To me, one of the most important things in meeting with a client is to be completely honest and to make absolutely certain that you are on the same sheet of music about the website's design/layout/content, deadlines, prices, and post production maintenance. I wouldn't take the job unless these things are clearly articulated. Otherwise, there will be disappointments on both sides and that makes for a lousy business relationship.

4:42 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Should I ask the client what their budget is?
5:03 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think that depends on the situation. (Lets say you have a price of 5 pages for $500 as an example for this post).

If you tell the client that you would charge $500 for 5 pages and they say that is too much, ask them what their budget is. If they say, $400, then figure out what you can give them for $400.

Most clients don't want to talk about price first, so focus on what they need. Then give them a price.

If they start talking about prices first, then I would ask them their budget.

When I talk to a client for the first time, I usually find out what they need first. I always send them a proposal after our conversation. I almost never tell them a price over the phone on our first conversation unless I have talked to that client through email on what they need. It's quite an odd feeling of talking to a client, them asking for a price, and you are on your calculator figuring out the price while they are waiting on the other end. I stopped doing that after 2 weeks in business for myself.

5:32 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

amflores, i always try to get an idea of their budget first thing - there is absolutely no point in you specifying something which will do a great job for $5k when they want to spend $50.

many people are uncomfortable with disclosing what their budget is but i find that if you explain that you want to give them an appropriate quote which is realistic to both their needs and their budget then most will relent.

any site is succesful because of content and promotion, the more of each that you do the more succesful a site will be. each takes time and each therefore costs money; a direct correlation between the price of a job and its likely success emerges.

6:07 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

paulrollo gave good advice too. I always feel the uncomfortableness from clients when asking their budget first, but like the response that Paul provided.
6:46 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

playing the devil's advocate here, as a client i would not care to be asked about my budget. for one, its confidential. secondly, as a client i may feel you will attempt to adjust your pricing according to my responses.

its not a question i ask, but would if i were to do a project say for a school or government agency.

6:48 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I know some clients that will not tell you their budget. They often think that if they tell you what's the max they are willing to spend - then that's what you are going to charge them. If you quote them a price first, they feel that you are giving them an uninflated quote.

What I like to do is talk with the client to find out what they want. I then estimate how much time it will take and multiply that times the hourly rate. I make it clear that anything that causes delays (such as the client changing their minds half way thru development) will cost them more money. By the same token, if it takes less time, I pass the savings to the client. I think they appreciate the honesty and are more willing to recommend you to others. I found out the hard way that charging by the page can cost you time and therefore money.

7:04 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Very true. If they contact me and tell me that have an X amount of budget and want X amount of pages, I'm always honest with them and give them the same amount as anyone else. If their they have any left over budget, I always advise them to use that for marketing.
7:09 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

as a client i would not care to be asked about my budget. for one, its confidential. secondly, as a client i may feel you will attempt to adjust your pricing according to my responses.

divaone, i think the enlightened client will realise that it is entirely appropriate that you adjust your total quote (though not the item/hourly/etc. pricing) in order to give them the most bang for their buck.

say i have $150k to spend and i want a sports car then i'm unlikely to be impressed when some lousy salesman who obviously hasn't figured me out (not even asked what my budget is!) suggests a mazda, or equally if I have $15,000 and he suggests an Aston Martin.

what lies at the core of my suggestion is my belief that there is a huge gulf between "a Web site that sells widgets" and "five pages of html with 4 images on each". both the number of pages and the amount of time spent on promotion is variable and more time, in most cases, will deliver better results. you can pitch in a quote for a site which will do a 1) bad job, 2) average job or 3) great job but is it up to you to artificially limit the success of their Web site?

7:39 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I think if a client feels comfortable with you, they will tell you their budget. Most clients do not feel comfortable talking about money as the first thing.

I also think it's how you ask it. You don't answer the phone that is a potential client and automatically ask what their budget is. Create a list of questions on what they need and ask what their budget is based on what they need.

7:48 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

For the car salesman analogy...

When someone goes into a dealership, they look at certain cars on the lot that already has the price tag on it. The salespeople pounce on you and know right off the bat on what your budget is because of the cars you were looking at previously.

If the person does not look at the cars and goes right to a salesperson, the salesperson will ask what cars are they interested in. Most people know what they want and have researched on prices of the cars.

If you have 150k to spend on a car, you will not be in a mazda dealership and vice versa if you only have $15k in a more expensive dealership. <grin>

10:08 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Any advice on what I should ask the client so I could gather data and estimate a price?
10:18 pm on Dec 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Well, what kind of things would you need from a client in order to build/design a website?

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