What Makes YOU Think You Know Better? (Part I)

The second part of the blog post is here. This is going to sound very obnoxious and arrogant, but please bear with me. I'm saying this all for a good reason, and one that might help you, as you develop out the things that you need to develop for your business - be it web or traditional.

What makes you think that you know better than a person that is a professonal in their chosen industry?

If you have a legal matter, and a Lawyer explains a certain way of doing things, in order to achieve the results that you seek, why would you argue the details of getting to that end result?

If you have a an accounting question, and your Accountant explains how and why to do what you need to do, in order to achieve the results that you seek, why would you argue the details of getting to that end result?

If you have a website that needs an upgrade, and you choose a nice design/theme for it, and the web designer builds the website according to the plan, in order to achieve the results that you seek, why would you argue the details of the design at the end of the project?

This has unfortunately happened to us at RocklandWeb more times than I can possibly count. It's also why we are very experienced at handling such an issue - and I guarantee you that Squarespace, Wix and Weebly won't personally give a hoot about it the way we do.

To cite an example, a very good friend and client of ours (who will remain nameless) contacted us a while back, and requested an emergency overhaul of her website. It was a Friday afternoon, we had all finished our projects for the week, but this was a high-priority issue that needed to be addressed, because she was running a major campaign ASAP, and wanted the site to look super-awesome.

As a side-note, I had already started planning my weekend, which involved a benefit that I needed to prepare for, and involved a lot of my time and focus. But, I have a lot of respect for this individual, and didn't want to let her down. So I put my stuff aside, and devoted 100% of my attention to converting her old website into something temporary that she could use for her upcoming campaign.

We walked through a few possible designs, and we settled in on one specific one. I agreed, and also we re-emphasized this was a temporary solution, and we can go back to the orginal design and work on that after her campaign was over. I sat for a good 7-8 hours that day/evening, and got the website up to snuff (yes, I still have some design and coding chops). By the end, I and my RocklandWeb team were pretty happy with the results.

The client was not.

She did not like the way that the website theme displayed her images, text and other materials. Granted, there were some quick edits we were able to make to shore up several issues, but in the end, she was unhappy with the general overall results of the project. We all ended up pretty frustrated, and I got on the phone with her to try to clear the air. More on that in a moment...

Now...look - the customer is always right. I understand this philosophy. But at this point, the expectation that all of us had set in stone - build a temporary website in order to get the client to the result she seeks: the successful completion of a web campaign - was now set off course. And it wasn't that the website itself was the problem. The problem was in the details. So and so button was not placed in the right location, the transparency of the images were not suitable, and so on.

So the options at this point were either to go backwards or forwards. I am a big fan of going forwards. I think most people are. But sometimes we have a nasty habit of shooting ourselves in the foot. 

Have you ever heard of any of these expressions before?:

  • Progress, not perfection.
  • The devil is in the details.
  • The enemy of the good is the great.
  • Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.
  • Focus on what you do best and let go of the rest.

To cite another example that I often use in my industry, please take a look at this legendary cartoon from The Oatmeal: How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell

From my perspective, I feel it is important to trust the web design, Accounting firm, Law firm, or consulting company you've selected, as long as you know they have your best interests in mind. That's something you should sort out early in your process - not a week, month, or years into a project. 

To go a little further into this - when a website theme is selected, make your life easier. Trust the theme. Trust the layout. Companies with millions of dollars in the bank (at least the ones we use) have developed these themes, specifically for the purpose of increasing engagement on your website. Don't delete buttons. Don't change colors. Don't ask for weird new layouts with fuzzy squirrel bunnies hopping across the screen in green tutus. Nobody will click on that stuff.

By now, it's pretty fair to say that there is a certain generally-expected layout for most websites:

  1. Header with logo on the top left, maybe some contact info on the right side
  2. A click to call button
  3. A navigation bar
  4. A leading image or video, possibly a slideshow
  5. Several buttons (Usually 2, 3 or 4 in a row) that encourage people to click throughA footer
  6. Interior pages with a content/sidebar. Pages for About, Services/Products, Contact. Maybe an FAQ
  7. A blog post area
  8. A contact form

I can't put it in any more of a blunt fashion. Don't mess with the elements above. They are the things that everyone expects, like a steering wheel in an automobile.

All of the above, I am saying for the purpose of you being able to do business better, whatever your business of choice may be. Trust the experts - especially when they genuinely have your best interests in mind. Bill Gates and many others said it best: "Trust, but verify."

Returning back to my phone call with the client, I decided to pick a fight.

I started by saying that I think she should find another web company. I think she was taken aback a little bit, and we got into a geniuine argument about what the issues of the website were, are, and might be. I wouldn't do this with just any client, but as I mentioned above I know her for many years, and at this point in our professional friendship, I took a chance that we could handle a very honest and frank discussion. I also planned to "dial it back" after I communicated my frustration, as per much of the above I just explained. So, after I did so - I kicked back and genuinely listened.

We talked for about fifteen minutes, and came up with a few solutions to the problems at hand. I'm happy to say that we reached a consensus, and were able to save the project. To be perfectly honest, I didn't want to lose her as a customer/friend anyway, but I had to take the chance to make sure that we were still on the same page. 

For both me and this very good person, I think we both can relate to the following quote:

“A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.” – Tim Ferris

In conclusion, remember to trust the experts to get you to where you envision. It's ok to adjust, but make sure you're not taking those you trust out of their workflow to get you to where you need to go. That's why they are experts. They've been there, done that.

Make sense? Great! In the next blog post, I ask the same question of myself. You can read it here.

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