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Blog > Taking Care Of Website Clients AFTER Their Websites Are Finished

Meet the author:
Jill Olkoski

Jill has a MA in Clinical Psychology, a BS in Computer Science, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering.

She currently owns Aldebaran Web Design in Edmonds (near Seattle WA) and enjoys educating her clients on topics related to small business website design.

In Jill's previous life, she spent 17 years in the engineering and quality organizations of a Fortune 100 tech company.

 


Taking Care Of Website Clients AFTER Their Websites Are Finished

July 14th, 2008

I received a phone call from a very frustrated prospective client the other day that I’d like to share with other people who might be thinking of starting their own website design businesses or shopping for a website designer. Here’s a tip: Hey all you web designers! Take care of your clients AFTER you finish their website design. Sound simple? Apparently not.

I recently had to make a change to my website maintenance services because I was simply unable to keep up with the demand for changes to websites that I didn’t design myself. There apparently are many, many website designers out there who are willing to create a website for customers, but have no intention of maintaining it over the long haul. I get regular calls from folks – so many in fact that I typically no longer can handle these small change requests – primarily because I’m committed to making sure I can take care of my own clients.

I changed my website maintenance offerings because I wanted to make sure there was adequate time in my work schedule to promptly (usually in 1 week) respond to maintenance requests from my clients. This is important to me because website code is easily changed, especially by the person who wrote the code in the first place – and service after sale is critical to customer satisfaction.

But I guess there are many less responsible web designers out there, who have figured out that doing website maintenance is less lucrative than doing new website design. Well, this is true. At least short term. I believe to build a successful long term business, you need to make customers happy. If they call you for changes and you tell them it will take you 3 months to do them, they won’t be quite as happy.

This is what happened recently. A fellow had his website designed by someone who was also doing the web hosting. (Note, this is one of those things I strongly recommend against – separate your web hosting company from your web designer). The web designer went on vacation, the website went down…and that was it. Phone calls went unreturned and the site stayed down for not days, but weeks.

The fellow then went on to tell me he moved his website to another web design/hosting firm. Now he wants to make some changes to his site, but this website company is telling him it will take 3 months to do these changes. Which sent him ballistic and looking for yet another web designer.

So this prospective client was spending today frantically calling web designers and unlike other companies, I answer my phone myself. I listened and told him what I services I offer and sympathized with his situation.

When you’re shopping for a web designer – look for someone who will not only do your initial website design, but who will support your website over time.

Small businesses undergo change and small business websites should change with them. Make sure your web designer supports their work AFTER your initial website work is finished – or you may wind up in a similar to this fellow – desperately calling one web designer after another looking for someone who will make changes to his existing website.

Jill
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J. Olkoski
Aldebaran Web Design, Seattle
Jill Olkoski has a BS in Engineering, a BS in Computer Science and an MA in Clinical Psychology. She delights in using her advanced technical and psychological skills to help small business owners develop cost-effective and successful websites.



10 Responses to “Taking Care Of Website Clients AFTER Their Websites Are Finished”

  1. Katie Kay Says:

    Thank goodness I do not have to worry about this (I have enough to worry about just trying to make it in the vast pool of online stores). Aldebaran Web Design is my original and only web design service and I always feel like I am a priority for even the smallest tweaks to my website. YAH! for me and Aldebaran…

  2. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Aww shucks Katie 🙂
    J

  3. Alphabetix Says:

    Great post, and cool site. I agree, the designer and the hosting company should be separate. Web Design firms should be in it for the long haul, and I never have any issues helping customers after a launch. One of my best clients requires tons of updating, and I love it, because it’s an easy residual income for me, since I charge them by the hour.

    Smiles.

  4. Web Designer Says:

    Yes, I agree with you. Web designers should pay attention or take good care of their clients needs after done doing it their sites. They shouldn’t just live their clients behind.

  5. Derrick Says:

    I concur if you are going to design the website please make sure you will be around for updates. I design websites personally and have had many people come up to me asking for me to update what their primary designer won’t do, can’t do, or like you said in the post takes to long to do. I understand that some website design firms are smaller than others but my tip to them all is know what you are getting your self into. PS maintenance at an hourly rate is sometimes more lucrative then the design itself.

    Dh

  6. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Thanks to all for the comments – it’s nice to know there are other designers out there who intend on supporting clients after they finish their websites.

    While I agree with Derrick – that sometimes maintenance charges exceed the original design, in my business, this is the rare exception to the rule. For most sites, the vast majority of the cost is in the initial design – and I do believe this short sighted profit motive is one of the reasons designers ignore clients after the initial design is completed.

    Thanks for all your comments, they are much appreciated!

  7. fred Says:

    I have to ask: why aren’t these clients being put on a Content Management System to make the updates themselves? I put my clients on a CMS *AND* we host about 95% of our website in our own datacenter -have done so for 4 years and counting with no issues; why do you recommend clients do not use a company that offers both services?

    Fred

  8. Jill Olkoski Says:

    Hi Fred,
    Implementing a content management system isn’t free – it adds substantial cost to websites, and not all clients want to make these changes themselves. They might make changes to infrequently that a CMS isn’t practical for them.

    And not all CMS systems are easy to use – I have clients who use Expression Engine, Mambo and Joomla – who frequently call me to help them work with their website changes – so just having a CMS system is no guarantee that folks will be able to use it, especially if they make changes infrequently.

    I use a content management tool (WebYep) for clients who want to update their own website – but again, not all clients want to do this themselves.

    I don’t recommend folks do their website hosting with their web design companies – because over and over again I have folks who have had issues with their web designers and their website files are now under the control of someone they’re having a conflict with.

    And again, remember, I’m speaking from a position of having people call me who are in trouble – this is how my opinion is based – I’m sure their are reputable web designers who also do hosting – but there are plenty of others who leave folks and their websites in jeopardy – and hence this blog article.

  9. fred Says:

    i’ve also seen car dealers basically steal from their customers but it’s probably not gonna happen at your local BMW dealership.

    in my experience (over 12 years with several firms) the good developers implement content management systems, even if their clients don’t THINK they want to make changes to their site themselves. All but twice that turned out to NOT be the case, the logistics of making changes in a few minutes v.s the time and cost associated with hiring a developer always seems to have a way of convincing clients they should follow Nike’s lead and JUST DO IT.

    Even if they don’t use it, a designer/developer can make the required changes in a fraction of the time (we do phone call support with new users all the time where the changes are made with them on the phone and NetMeeting). Fast, easy and painless.

    Just my opinions, of course -I get calls on a weekly basis from clients that want us to take over projects from designers/developers who either disappear with their money and just fall short of hitting deadlines after deadlines -doesn’t mean ALL designers/developers do this. In my experience having a data center and the ability to manager everything from IP addresses to name server settings internally has been a HUGE convenience to both my firm AND my client.

    Fred

  10. luis pereira Says:

    we are living in a new world!!! it is amazing. i have some websites for my professional business. (www.dyncr.com is one of them) and at some point all the web hosting and web maintenance was a total mess!… i was paying a lot of money every month for web hosting and maintenance, and the presence on engine searchers started to go down!!!… i talked with the company and they – looks like – they only want my monthly fee. So i started to search on internet for this services. that was how i found Jill, and all my business life changed!!!!!.. now im paying less per year than i pay per month, my webs are better and with someone who is concern about my issues… and i live and work in Costa Rica, and thanks this new world we were able to solve this better, faster and cheaper than years ago!!!

    Thanks Jill, people like you makes this world a better place to live!!!!




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