When to Submit the Website Draft to the Client

You want to impress the client with your work and the interpretation of his needs. You also want to impress him with the speed of your response.

draft-smallBut, if the draft website is largely incomplete, the client will pick lots of holes in it and think you don’t know what you’re doing. So, what do you do?

If you work and work at the website to get it as complete as you can get it, any wholesale changes will be resented. Further, the extra time you have taken to get it right will not be appreciated by the client as well as the possibility that your interpretation is not his.

I try and complete just enough pages to give the client an idea of his website, if necessary using dummy text and pictures on the major pages. Knowing when to stop is not easy and is based on a site by site basis.

The other problem is how to submit the draft. Often, there is no face to face communication. Do you just post the web site draft and inform the client by email? Do you add a short explanation? A long explanation? I often write my justification as the home page text if none is available or add a separate page.

The best way is a face to face without the client having previously seen the draft which also has the advantage that the client’s response can be observed and there is no time for him to develop an entrenched opinion.  It’s easy then to discuss the various merits and nip problems in the bud.

If that’s not possible, then a phone walk through is the next best way.


Prospects – First Contact

Know thine prospect! It pays to find out as much as possible about a new prospect before a) you answer him and b) you see him.  This is not possible with . . . 

… the Phone Call

Wow! you’ve got an enquiry!

phoneTypically it’ll be “I’m looking for someone to design a website – do you do that sort of thing?”

Of course we do! But you need some info before you know whether you can really answer the question in the affirmative.

Firstly, listen. Listen to what the prospect is saying. Very little probably – he’s waiting for you. But, you still need some information from him –

  1. What is the prospect’s business (a lot are reluctant)?
  2. Does he already have a website?
  3. If so what does he think the shortcomings are (other than ‘old’)?
  4. How long has he had the site?
  5. If you can, get the developer’s name from him (also reluctant).
  6. What does he expect from the new website (er, updated)?
  7. Does he have any specific requirements or just a general ‘improvement’?

Beware! You get the ‘Our website designer never answers our emails’.


Lots of reasons for this – he’s rubbish or he’s fed up with his client’s continual amendments. The latter reason is usually because he’s underquoted and not been clear/firm with his client.

The answer is usually the second reason which will tell you that your prospect may be a micromanager and will have paid little for the site (inspecting it will tell you).

… the Email

If you’re lucky, the email may have an attached spec – but that will probably be incomplete however the email is likely to have been written by the guy wanting the site. And, at least you have something in writing.

I get a high number of emails with no contact at all other than the email address. If there is a phone number, ring them and see who it is you’re talking to. You’ll also get a good idea of want they want and they have had the opportunity to talk to you – and you can give them tips over the phone.

Time Wasters

bored-man-300x230Sometimes you’ll get the written equivalent of the phone call – ‘Can you give me price on a website please’.

Someone has been told to get three quotes – ‘Give me a price – any price’ – although they have someone in mind anyway.

Worse you travel 50kms and get – ‘Oh, Brandon has just stepped out’. How interested can he be? He may have delegated but the guy:

  • has no idea what Brandon wanted and
  • couldn’t give a shit.

starYou’ve just wasted two hours that you could have done something else in.

I now try and do some digging on the phone before a site visit is brought up. From the digging I can get some idea of the extent of the prospect’s interest so when it arises I can tell them I’ll see them or that I am too busy but they can come around (subject of another post). I usually get it wrong.

 Is there Already a Website?

badsiteI try and establish if he already has a website – sometimes the prospect will tell you that in the email signature. If he does, I go to it and take a look and appraise the website objectively.

It may be crap but the reason for the crappiness may not be the webbie’s fault. He may have been told to do things the way they are. However, it is possible to see shoddy implementation of standard functionality – which is a webbie problem.

The name of the web designer may be below the footer. It may be hidden so do a Ctrl-A and see if anything magically appears.

The more informed you are before you see a prospect, the better the questions you can put and the more readily you will have how you can help him at your fingertips.

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