Recently there has been this high demand for blogs. From small time site blogs to big time blogs like Station Casion’s. Needless to say that there has been more than enough work to go around for all WordPress Developers. But what do you do when you have a client who knows what a website is and yet still fails to grasp the concept that at some point they will need to get their hands dirty?
This is not a rant or rave about the fact that most people have no idea that HTML is an abbreviation for something more technical, php is in fact a scripting language that can communicate with a database – not a drug, and so on. This is a “blog post” about understanding the right questions to ask a client who might be willing to admit they know nothing about website besides that they have 400 friends on facebook and typing in “:)” will make a smiley face in a chat window. See what I did there? I used “blog post” to describe exactly what this is you are reading, Ha. OK back to reality.
The other day I was meeting with a client who wanted to blog about her words she makes up on her way to work. “Because I mean that every one on facebook likes my words so much that my site should probably get like a million hits a month, maybe more if I am good.” Her exact words. So I skipped over the sarcasm that I really wanted to say and dove into the core features of her project. “Can you name me a site that gets a million hits a month?” I say to her. “You mean like Google?” she replies. Right there, was a give away that she in fact had no clue what she was about to get into. “Have you ever had a blog or wrote something that is more than a paragraph in length, on facebook, about something that you or your inner circle of friends might understand is a sarcastic joke?” “Well in high school I use to write a lot of short stories” she tells me. At this point I am literally searching my brain to keep up in this conversation.
I find that most “Clients” think they have a really good idea for a website. They were drinking with some friends or sat at home on a Friday night and decided that writing a blog couldn’t be that hard. With that being said, You have to have a solid plan of attack when it comes to interviewing your clients. Every developer that I know has some kind of question sheet or word document that, if answered honestly, will help them to build a website for their new client. In this case, I had to forget what I have previously done for clients in the past and start from scratch.
I begin with the basics: Do you know what you are going to write about? Do you have a name for your site? Have you started to write your idea’s down on paper or actually wrote something you think is worth reading to your sites viewers? Have you done any research to see if there are already successful site like yours? My guess is that “NO” will be the answer to every one of these questions besides the name of the site. If that is the case, you might want to realize this project should not take up a lot of time or should be placed on hold until the client realizes that they are not cut out for this or that they had a great idea and will never follow through on anything. Including payment.After these questions I feel comfortable enough to ask some more in depth questions.
Are you willing to put money up in advance to help get this project up and going? Are you wanting to pay on a monthly period or pay all debts owed upon completion of this project? Are you hoping that this blog will be so successful that you can quit your job and just blog all day everyday?
Asking these kinds of questions get old really fast. I have found out that asking questions based on money kind of gets the ball rolling in your clients head making them realize that you are for real and plan on making a great site for them. If you are dealing with a client that probably has worked in a sales position once in their life, they should know that any talk of money is a flat out approach to finding out how serious you are as a developer and how serious they are a “blogger”. When you get any kind of response that starts out with the phrase “when I was in” usually means that someone in their past was being supportive of this persons passions in life. So lets talk about asking questions that will in fact get the ball rolling with out you seeming like a money driven company.
Are you willing to start writing three paragraphs everyday that no one in fact reads? Can you name off three key features of your website that no one has done yet? Are you able to deal with the fact that some, if not most, readers will leave stupid comments about your blog post criticizing your work?
Asking personal questions helps your client realize that there is a lot of work that needs to go into this site and could possibly result in a place for bored people to write stupid comments about work you feel is helpful to society and your potential readers. My favorite question at this current moment is this: ” When you write, do you have a plan or are you basically flying by the seat of your pants?” Why do I ask this question? Because it is important to know that after all of your hard work and dedication, this site might be taken down in less than 3 months after going live. Every site I build for a client goes into my personal portfolio and I want to be proud of it. Not that I care about the content basically. I want to show others that I can help anyone take a radical idea and make it a reality.
So when you are dealing with your next client, think about the questions you want to ask. But more importantly, try to guess the answers you are going to get and plan for the worst.