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Would you let your Nephew design your brochure...

... then why do you think he can design a website?

     
9:49 am on Jul 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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How to get this idea accross the people that think that their website looks good because their nephew thinks he can design a professional web page?

Leo

9:51 am on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Show them a couple of really professionally done sites, and probably also show them what their website looks like in non-IE browsers.
9:54 am on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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GREAT idea,

Did you encounter the problem yourself?

9:58 am on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Often they don't understand what's involved or don't want to spend any money, therefore any realistic price looks too expensive.

If it looks too expensive then breaking down what they are getting for their money and showing them examples of previous work might help.

If they aren't willing to spend any money then they are going to get stuck with cousin Johnny or get taken to the cleaners by a professional with an impossibly low quote.

- Tony

10:03 am on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Running into the same "Nephew"-problem several times. Showing the w3c-Validator (and the validated-buttons) helped with one client...
"Would you let some lawyer repair the brake system on your car?"
10:03 am on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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well said.

and great advice on how to prove that a professional web skills mainly show below the surface.

It's because some people still think the web is a plaything. Especially since the dot com crash. And in the early days we were all part of a "lets try and see" cottage industry. After all, how "experienced" could you be designing sites for a ww that have only been invented a few years earlier. The area was crowded by enthusiastic amateurs but with no business or marketing savvy, or print/braodcast graphic design profeesionals, and just plain cowboy short term opportunists. In many cases, maybe your nephew COULd build better sites.... back then...when all we had was text pad, Hot Dog, and a couple of browsers.

but with the opportunists cleaned out, more knowledge of the web as a medium and it's real place, I see very strong signs that this perception will change. You can see it increased value for on-line advertising, a maturity in the search engine industry, strength in tech and web-related stocks (though this may be a bit over blown for the immediate future), as long as several other things.

I think the future is bright for people who have been in this industry for a while, learned lessons from others failures so they didnt fail themselevs, and lessons from their own failures which were not enough to deter/kill them, and more professional.

10:25 am on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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When I started in this part of the industry in 1996 - it was like the Wild West!

Almost every SME had the paperboy doing their website.

They were painfully slow, text written in .JPG images, scrolling text, changing colour backgrounds, strange sounds, 404 on many links ... and they were some of the good ones!

In the fullness of time, the owners went two ways; either decided the internet was a waste of time and pulled the plug ... or dimplomatically hired a professional to 'assist' his nephew or paperboy.

It still happens today and because we can buy a website in a box, we will still get overnight web design experts with a 2.50 WYSIWYG editor. Thankfully, if they can't deliver the goods, a pro will eventually be called upon.

So, in order to make sure you have a chance to be called upon there are one or two 'rules' that are worth observing.

Because the 'webmaster' is related - don't make negative comments, offer free advice to the boss (not the 'webmaster'), don't give tech support freely ... they'll milk you.

Without becoming a pest keep contact with the boss, let him know you are still around and if he needs you, he knows where you are.

If you are too cocky, he won't get back too you so don't drive a wedge between him and his beloved webmaster:)

My reservation about showing good examples of what a professional website looks like is, the boss will show that to the 'webmaster' and he will steal, alter and tamper with it.

Finally, determine whether you are dealing with a tightwad or someone supporting family because they are too different animals!

The tightwad won't change his spots but the family man knows what he is doing and giving the kid a chance is the right thing to do.

Diplomacy and patience ... softly softly catchy monkey;)

10:31 am on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Had the 'nephew' problem just recently.

Explained differences comparing good and poor site (cross browser, SE visibility, usability, conversions)., proved by examples.

Client seemed to understand ... I thought.

But then he asked: "But why is your offer more than triple of the 'nephew' offer?"

I call it: Heavy explanation resistance.

Fortunately there are others.

the future is bright

Yes, i hope so :)

10:36 am on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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albert, yours is a good example of
The tightwad won't change his spots but the family man knows what he is doing and giving the kid a chance is the right thing to do.

Hang around! :)

2:24 pm on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I have often run into the same situation over the past few years. The potential client states "nephew" (or some other family member) will do the site for free or for a small fee.

First, I can't compete with free. Second, the chances of the relative creating a professional looking site that will do what the client wants are slim.

So, I look at this as an opportunity for future business. Rather than fighting an uphill battle educating the prospective client about the relative's skills (or lack thereof), I make a couple of web design recommendations and leave on a friendly basis. Then I keep contact them every few months over the next year or so (a quick e-mail, phone call or postcard). I usually get a call within a year requesting my services. The longest it has taken has been three years before I was called back. However that client is now one of my strongest supporters.

Just remember to NEVER say anything bad about the relative - no matter how web design challenged they are.

2:38 pm on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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So, I look at this as an opportunity for future business.

I couldn't agree more. Over 90% of my new business for the past 2 years has come from people realizing that the web provides them with an additional marketing channel yet the site designed by the "nephew" is not on a par with the rest of their marketing message.

Often clients have had a very professional offline image spoiled by a website that did not look like it even belonged to the same company.

[edit]typo[/edit]

[edited by: Paul_in_South_Africa at 2:59 pm (utc) on July 10, 2003]

2:43 pm on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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There is a naughty trick.

If the site is a boxed template...and quite often they can be search via the code, send a collection to the bossman. It takes the kudos away from that little prima donna - especially when he put his name to it. Oh oh oh!

6:53 pm on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I agree with everyone here, but I have one argument. Everyone here was the Nephew at one time or another. We all had to start somewhere.

If the Nephew is a fly by night then we don't have anything to worry about. We will get the job sooner or later. It will just make us look better in the end.

7:11 pm on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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This is the kind of industry where you can't learn it from a book or from a class, very well, because the knowledge is always changing. Thus, there's no certification required to do it, because any certification would be quickly rendered irrelevant and you wouldn't get the best site by going through official channels like that.
So there are always going to be cowboys and fly-by-nights. There are places for that sort of people, and many of us wouldn't have gotten our starts if those types of people weren't allowed to at least try their hand at it.

I'm feeling grumbly about it all because my company wouldn't hire a professional webdesigner, but threw me into it, and are now complaining at how long it's taken me and how the page doesn't look like they never told me they wanted it to. I've never represented myself as a professional webdesigner-- but I'm getting paid to do webdesign, so I guess I am one now. I know a lot more now than I did before, but if they weren't such skinflints they'd've realized from the get-go that if you're not paying someone experienced, you're paying for someone to gain experience, and the difference in price may not swing the direction you think it would. And even the best webdesigner on the planet is not going to be able to design the page you didn't tell them you wanted. They'd need at least a hint...

Not that I'm frustrated at all. ;-)

7:51 pm on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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So do you think I should put the title of this thread on my site and company literature ;)? Do you think the customers might say - hum I did he know that?

The problem I've is that sometimes I rang people with what I believe is a site that could be improved and they say no thanks we are happy with it. You are not happy - you just don't know what a good website (good professional design, well seo-ed, with proper internet marketing the lot) could bring to your company that's all. You decided to have a website without thinking further. It's not because everybody has a website that you should have one without planning for it, setting target and everything (like you would do for any other marketing campaign), your website must bring you something - mustn't be an expense but an investment (and bringing ROI).

Well that's my 0.02 ;)

LEo

7:56 pm on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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My advice would be to call them and tell them you will email them an example of what you've done. There just put a before-after of a site you worked on, showing not only the graphical design, but also the ease of use (both from content maker and from user perspective), the number of users (including SERPs) and last but not least the ROI.

Tell them to check that out carefully and be sure to leave your phone number :)

8:13 pm on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Great idea, again ;), but the pb is that the sites I've redesigned don't have the old design anywhere, will think about it for the next ones though.

Leo

8:19 pm on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hmm, have you tried the Wayback Machine [web.archive.org]?

That idea doesn't work every time, because for some the investment for the actual site will be only time (and many people don't understand that doesn't mean zero investment), but it's worth a try.

11:42 pm on July 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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But then he asked: "But why is your offer more than triple of the 'nephew' offer?"

My answer for that would be "because he's charging 5 times what his services are worth".

I have told my clients on many occasions that if they wanted to, they could create their website with MS Word or Excel (save as HTML), and do it themselves.

Then I explain that a website created in MS Word, Excel or by "Billy the neighbor kid" won't ever show up in Google (or any other search engine) for "Afgani red widgets".

Then usually I spend some time surfing through the top 5 results for their keywords with them, critiquing their competitors sites:

"Oh, that's a good idea, we should do something like that - but better!"

"<sneer> look - this site's internal pages have no links back to the navigation - anyone who to this page from the search engine will be trapped!"

Billy the neighbor kid in the meantime is frantically leafing through his copy of "frontpage for dummies" trying to make a table and how to make the screen "swipe" each time you change pages.

5:29 am on July 11, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Because the 'webmaster' is related - don't make negative comments, offer free advice to the boss (not the 'webmaster'), don't give tech support freely ... they'll milk you.

Without becoming a pest keep contact with the boss, let him know you are still around and if he needs you, he knows where you are.

If you are too cocky, he won't get back too you so don't drive a wedge between him and his beloved webmaster

7:18 pm on July 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I struggled with this type of thing for a looong time.

Then I had a break-through moment.

IF the client can't see the difference - no amount of walking her/him through your "brilliant code" will make a damn bit of difference to him/her. You're trying to get "them" to see things your way... When you need to see things "their" way. In fact, I think we've all obsessed far too long on how wonderful it is to write XHTML and how incredibly our code validates. I've lost many a night on it I wish I had back now.

Look at it from a different perspective. You want a hamburger. It costs $0.99 at Wendy's. Or you head to a restaurant, and pay $8.95 for a "gourmet burger". Now, if you're hungry but you want to save money (even if you CAN afford it), no amount of talking a waiter will do about how incredible the ingredients are will sway your mind! But if you're in the mood to *treat yourself*, to *experience* something, to have something unique that few others do, you'll spring for the big burger.

Admittedly, its not quite the same as buying a website that can/should play a part in generating business. But the websites that really, clearly generate many more times their investments are both hard to find and define (unless its an ecommerce store, etc.)... at least in terms the clients easily understand ( ex. showing a decrease in calls over emails is all fine and good, but it just ain't as clear to a client as a sale is in their industry.)

If you start from this "negative" perspective that the website is necessary but not something that will make them an overnight success, that's its a "necessary expense", you're probably closer to the clients actual frame of mind. They're bound to be skeptics. And that's fine, whether its true or not is NOT the point. You still need to make them "feel fantastic" about what they're doing. "Sell" them a gourmet burger, and make sure they know Little Billy is a bargain basement burger that might fill their stomachs, but do little more.

In other words, forget your brilliant technical "stuff", and focus on their needs, their "egos", their doubts and fears about the process. And give them something they can be *proud of*, versus something that's "technically very accurate". (Ie. Imagine them meeting with fellow businesspeople - are they going to go around and say "You should see our website! It totally validates in W3C!" No - but they will say, "Did you see our new site? It looks fantastic.")

As for specifics on how to achieve that? Well, I can't give the whole farm anyway... But I hope I've offered a counter-point to get you all thinking!

Final thought - there's another school of thought that says that if someone doesn't have the skills to recognize good from bad, *move on* - because they are not competant in their field, or don't care to be. Come back in two years, maybe by then they'll "get it". I actually had one of my first potential clients, who turned down my 2nd site ever (for $350 bucks - ouch, what was I thinking?) come back 5 years later (!) and spent $6k on a small database-driven site. He was the LAST guy in his local industry to get one. But you know what? I'm proud to say we built him the best damn site in his field (no exageration, the others went with half-assed "Little Billy" sites!), and its getting him calls and business already, weeks after its launch.

You know - the more I think about it, he's pretty smart. He gave time for everyone else to move first - then he moved on what they did, and made it better? Yes, he was sorry he waited, but then again, he's got the best now...?


9:47 pm on July 12, 2003 (gmt 0)

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It's about figuring out whom to convince right now, whom to let braise making experiences, whom to forget because he's a tightwad (or worse).

I'm learning to tell it from their nose - still failing all too often :

Not that I'm frustrated at all. ;-)

are they going to go around and say "You should see our website! It totally validates in W3C!" No - but they will say, "Did you see our new site? It looks fantastic.")
- Yup. That's the way.

On the other hand - increasing success.

5:27 am on July 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hey... I still am that nephew... :)
7:50 am on July 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think the most important thing to consider, is does this nephew have an understanding of any language other than HTML, if he even has that down... An effective website is an interactive website; one that can take input from potential customers and things of that nature. I'm currently struggling to learn PERL... you're really just useless without CGI related knowledge of web-design. If all you're doing is putting content out there, and not listening and taking content in, you're really just wasting your time, commercially speaking, on the internet.
5:27 am on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I'm still working on the basis that the nephew hasn't even got knowledge of HTML. He's got a free frontcover WYSIWYG webstite creator or at the best a website in a box from PC World with loads of templates.

I think the boss is treading water for no other reason than the fact it's his nephew and if someone could show him a way where he waon't cause a family feud, yet still generate good business from a good website ... he'll listen.

7:29 am on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Mind you I have nothing against anyone Nephew doing a website. Some are good. I am only talking about nephew using M$ Word or other software making the code and site look horrible. The Nephew doing a bad job.

The nephews sticking around WebmasterWorld have more knowledge of HTML, CSS, and other basics than the guys I used to work for ;) and they were doing ok.

I've never been a great designer, and never will be I've got two left hands, but by carfully mixing, navigability, usability, optimisation and design, I think that the outcome is a good site overall, and that's the important part: having a nice looking site that everybody can easilly use.

leo

9:14 am on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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perhaps we are looking at two totally different breeds of nephew - the first being the one I suspect this thread is based upon. The genuine nephew, studying IT or the like and through family connections he has now become 'webmaster' of Uncle Fred's company.

The other one, is the rooky and like all of us he's learning the industry, but he got a break. Now, if he is wise, he'd welcome a little professional help - however, that prima donna streak may tell him he doesn't need any ... because he is the webmaster already;)

12:08 pm on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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The genuine nephew, studying IT or the like and through family connections he has now become 'webmaster' of Uncle Fred's company.

And after all, doing Uncle Fred's website is the only *real* way to learn and become a good wm. "Give nephews a chance. They are tomorrow's webmasters." :-)

12:16 pm on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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>>The genuine nephew, studying IT or the like and through family connections he has now become 'webmaster' of Uncle Fred's company<<

HeHe! neoptism a very common happening in the West as well as around Asia! Especially among smaller companies and in fields which are relatively young (like web design). I hung around some quite large companies for a while as sons and daughters were employed at tender ages and nil experience, allowed to stuff up numerous times while being given a lot of freedom and discretion, and, - here's the cruncher - actually became quite good after 5 or so years!

Bosses like someone they can trust much more than someone with superior skills. Its something ive gotten used to and accepted as part of life...

Moral - spin for work from larger companies, and withdraw as soon as family members become involved (or become friends with them and make THEM look good while you are still bringing in the patronised bucks!) - you can't compete with kin...

12:25 pm on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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When it comes to "convincing" anyone - I don't try. I just state my position clearly and I'm always willing to walk away. I think that attitude closes the most contracts. It's also less stressful all around.
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