Even in this supposedly slow economy, be picky about the projects you choose to take on.
Don’t Ignore The Big Red Flags
The economy sucks — or so the media tells me. From what I can tell, everybody is still spending exorbitant amounts of money on overpriced t-shirts, electronics, and whatever else they can get their hands on. A few weeks ago, we had the biggest shopping day of the year, and all indications are that it was quite successful.
If the economy is so bad, why aren’t we seeing a slowdown in potential web design and development projects? In fact, we’re getting more than we ever have, and the average price point has gone up significantly over the last few months. I don’t understand it, but if this is what happens in a “bad economy”, bring it on.
During times when we’re going through a so-called recession, the instinct is to take on whatever work comes along because you don’t know when the next project will roll in. I’ve heard other web designers and developers say those very words. I disagree. I think you have to be just as picky about which clients you choose to work with as you were a year or two ago. You still have standards. You still don’t want to sell your soul for a paycheck. Don’t give in.
Just to remind us of the things we should watch for when evaluating a potential project, here are a number of big red flags (in no particular order) that shouldn’t be overlooked:
We designed this in house, but we need you to build it.
I’ll be the first to admit that some companies do have great internal design teams but don’t have the technical resources to actually build a site. However, in most cases, when I see these few words, the screenshot of the site-to-be that follows is enough to make my eyes bleed.
We’re on a tight budget right now, but we’ve got a lot more work to toss your way.
When somebody says this, they are usually fishing for a deal. If we do this first project on the cheap, they say they’ll come back with more work. Of course, it never really works that way. They either don’t come back at all or expect the same super-duper discount deal again and again.
My other designer bailed out half-way through the project. Can you take over?
Why exactly did your former designer quit? Are you one of the clients that Zeldman was talking about?
We’ve got a great idea, but you need to sign a non-disclosure agreement before we talk.
Yes, there are some cases where people have truly brilliant ideas (like a certain person we met a few weeks ago). However, in most cases, the mere mention of an NDA means that we’re about to hear the most ridiculous idea ever. Believe me — I’ve heard some doozies.
This is a high-profile site, so you’ll get a lot of recognition out of it.
Again, this person is fishing for a deal. We actually had someone suggest that we do their site for free because of all the traffic it would get and all the potential deals we would receive. I think not.
I’ve got $2,000 to build something like Facebook.
Good luck with that. Have you tried elance or craigslist?
Why do you think this project will take so long?
Well, let’s take a quick look at our process. We start with some research — looking at your needs and seeing what your competitors are doing. We plan out the site architecture and create wireframes for each unique page template. Then we do the actual visual design work. Then, it’s off to slicing and coding and trying to get browsers to play nicely. Then you may or may not need a content management system before all of the content can be added and the site can be launched. You’re looking at 200 hours of work to do things right. And no, we’re not willing to sacrifice our process. If you want something faster than that, there’s always TemplateMonster.
We’re evaluating lots of other agencies.
I’m all for shopping around, but we ultimately want a client who wants to partner with us because of our expertise and our body of work, not because we were the one they just happened to pick out of their list of 30 web design shops.
Can you send us a mockup of what the site will look like?
We haven’t even spoken to you yet. We don’t know your needs or your style. We haven’t seen your content. We have no idea what you want, other than a facelift for your site. Besides, even if we did know all that stuff, we don’t do spec work.
Can you build me a site just like X?
Yes, we could, but why? You obviously aren’t them, so I doubt that what you need is exactly the same as what they’ve done. Oh, you mean EXACTLY like theirs? You want us to steal their design, drop in your logo, replace their name with yours, and call it done? No thanks. I like to avoid intellectual property infringement.
We’re making a decision based on the lowest bid.
We’re not the lowest bidder in town. We’re definitely not cheaper than your neighbor’s pimply pre-teen son. Not that there’s anything wrong with pimply pre-teen sons who happen to be designers. We happen to know a few who are extremely talented. Either way, you get my drift…
Can you do it by Monday morning?
Um, no. It’s 3PM on Friday. Even if I wanted to work on your project all weekend long without sleeping, it’s physically impossible to do 375 hours of work in a 67 hour period, unless you can provide me with either a pimped-out De Lorean or a certain blue police call box.
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