Website business & the Kobayashi MaruMay 5th, 2014

kobayashi-maru While I love what I do, it is inevitable that once in a while, you run into a client you just can’t please. Trekies know this as the Kobayashi Maru. It is the no win scenario. In Star Trek this was a training scenario to which there is no way to win. In the web business we know this as the un-pleasable client.

Now Web Development, and site management is a service business. There should be no confusion about this. You aren’t doing your clients a favor by building and/or managing a website. They are paying you and therefore deserve every consideration. You MUST do everything you can do to please your clients.

In fact, in my opinion, many of the no-win situations are the fault of the developer/designer and not the client.

To try and assist both sides, here are some ideas both from the development side and from the client side. Hopefully this will help you with your next web project.

Web Designers/Developers/Website Managers
Contract: The best thing you can do is have a contract which spells out exactly what you are going to do, what it will cost and what will happen if you build things not in scope. So for instance if you have a contract to build a 10 page website and it grows to 20 pages, what are the additional costs?

Phases: Break your project up into phases. Then have your client sign off on each phase. So for instance if you are designing a site have the client sign off on the design. This way they can’t come back and want to blow up what you have done.

The never ending project: Now one of the trickiest problems web developers run into is the site that never gets finished. We have all had these projects and they are bottom line killers. We have to pay our team members, but don’t get final payment until the site launches. This too can be solved by a good contract which spells out that final payment will come due x days after all the work has been done (whether or not the client sends content).

Misunderstanding of requirements: Now many times the issue is a a developer just doesn’t get what you are looking for. You can do yourself a favor and save yourself headaches by having a requirements list which spells out exactly what you need. Make sure your designer/developer understands exactly what you need.

Contract: Insist on a contract, and make sure your developer clearly states exactly what your project entails. Make sure you own your code and that the contract spells out what happens when the relationship ends. This will save you angst and money if the relationship goes south.

Sign-off: Make sure you can sign off at different steps along the way. So you don’t get a site delivered not living up to your needs.

Bottom Line:: Notice how similar the ideas for the 2 sides are? Both want a quality product, completed in a reasonable amount of time. While Kirk beat the Kobayashi Maru by cheating, If you take steps in advance of a web project, both can be satisfied and head off any problems.