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How to Be A Good Web Firm Consumer

How to Be A Good Web Firm Consumer

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    So you’ve hired a web firm to design your new web site. Now what? Today I’m completing my Business Web Series and talking about what you can do to be a good consumer of web site developers and designers.

    Just like most business owners have tales of woe from having their web sites designed, most web developers and designers have stories of their own. Educate yourself, hire the right experts to help you through this process, and hold up your end of the bargain and you may sail through without being the star of one of the web firm’s horror stories (or your own!).

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    1. Negotiate knowledgeably.

    When you get a quote from a web firm, it just makes good sense to shop around. But when you shop around, compare apples to apples. Comparing a quote from an American firm, where you’ll most likely have an English-speaking team to work with, with a quote from a firm in a Third World country, where living expenses are a fraction of U.S. costs, just isn’t fair. You don’t want to approach your web firm with, “Why does it cost this much, when I can have a site built in India for $300?”

    Also, if you’re working with that rare breed of web firm where you’ll get both web strategy advice and search engine optimization, you simply cannot compare the pricing with your standard web design firm. So make sure you’re comparing like quotes before you consider asking for a price match.

    2. Hold up your end of the bargain.

    One of the most frustrating things for a web developer is when the client doesn’t provide timely feedback. In many cases, when you hire a web firm, you pay for part of your web site upfront, then you have to pay the rest just before launch. If you’re not providing timely feedback, not only are you holding up the launch and jeopardizing your timeline, but you’re also keeping your team from getting paid. In this economy, that’s not good for anyone. So make sure you pay your bills on time and provide responsive, useful feedback quickly to keep things moving along.

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    In addition, if you haven’t hired the web firm to provide you with content or copywriting, make sure you provide them with your content in a timely manner. The last thing you want is for your web site to be held up because you haven’t delivered the materials, or worse, launch without content. Make sure you

    3. Be smart and educate yourself.

    I recently talked with a potential client who’d been spending hundreds of dollars each month for a firm to “do search engine optimization” on her web site. She had no idea what that meant, but kept paying them anyway. In the meantime, this firm hadn’t touched her code or her copy, two of the hallmarks of a pretty substantial scam in my book.

    I’m not suggesting that every small business owner should know everything about what constitutes good or bad SEO. If you don’t have the time or the technical know-how to educate yourself in what your web site needs or to learn enough to know when you’re being scammed, then you need a trusted adviser who does know these things and can watch over your project and protect your interests.

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    4. Don’t be swayed by “pretty.”

    This one isn’t so much about being a good web consumer for your developer’s benefit as being a good consumer for your business. Too many business owners today are persuaded that “pretty” is the most important part of their web design. It’s not.

    An attractive web site certainly is important, but it’s not the most important thing. There are specific business elements and “screen real estate” issues
    like what goes “above the fold” that you need to pay attention to as well. And these things may be even more important than “pretty.” Stay too focused on the appearance of your site and you’ll likely end up with a site that doesn’t meet your business needs and has poor usability. Instead, try to strike a balance between the appearance of the site and meeting your business goals. Again, if you don’t know how to do this, hire someone who does.

    Having a web site designed can seem like a harrowing experience for many business owners. The investment in a strong web site can seem substantial for the micro-entrepreneur, especially considering the many potential pitfalls. That said, if you don’t have the time, inclination, or tech-savvy spirit to learn what you need to know to avoid those pitfalls and be a good consumer (for your own good, as well as the good of your design firm), hire an expert who can navigate the process for you and help you meet your business goals.

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    1 3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively 2 How to Master the Art of Prioritization 3 How to Stay Motivated and Reach Your Big Goals in Life 4 How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators 5 11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Getting Results

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    Last Updated on July 8, 2020

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    3 Techniques for Setting Priorities Effectively

    It is easy, in the onrush of life, to become a reactor – to respond to everything that comes up, the moment it comes up, and give it your undivided attention until the next thing comes up.

    This is, of course, a recipe for madness. The feeling of loss of control over what you do and when is enough to drive you over the edge, and if that doesn’t get you, the wreckage of unfinished projects you leave in your wake will surely catch up with you.

    Having an inbox and processing it in a systematic way can help you gain back some of that control. But once you’ve processed out your inbox and listed all the tasks you need to get cracking on, you still have to figure out what to do the very next instant. On which of those tasks will your time best be spent, and which ones can wait?

    When we don’t set priorities, we tend to follow the path of least resistance. (And following the path of least resistance, as the late, great Utah Phillips reminded us, is what makes the river crooked!) That is, we’ll pick and sort through the things we need to do and work on the easiest ones – leaving the more difficult and less fun tasks for a “later” that, in many cases, never comes – or, worse, comes just before the action needs to be finished, throwing us into a whirlwind of activity, stress, and regret.

    This is why setting priorities is so important.

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    3 Effective Approaches to Set Priorities

    There are three basic approaches to setting priorities, each of which probably suits different kinds of personalities. The first is for procrastinators, people who put off unpleasant tasks. The second is for people who thrive on accomplishment, who need a stream of small victories to get through the day. And the third is for the more analytic types, who need to know that they’re working on the objectively most important thing possible at this moment. In order, then, they are:

    1. Eat a Frog

    There’s an old saying to the effect that if you wake up in the morning and eat a live frog, you can go through the day knowing that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you that day has already passed. In other words, the day can only get better!

    Popularized in Brian Tracy’s book Eat That Frog!, the idea here is that you tackle the biggest, hardest, and least appealing task first thing every day, so you can move through the rest of the day knowing that the worst has already passed.

    When you’ve got a fat old frog on your plate, you’ve really got to knuckle down. Another old saying says that when you’ve got to eat a frog, don’t spend too much time looking at it! It pays to keep this in mind if you’re the kind of person that procrastinates by “planning your attack” and “psyching yourself up” for half the day. Just open wide and chomp that frog, buddy! Otherwise, you’ll almost surely talk yourself out of doing anything at all.

    2. Move Big Rocks

    Maybe you’re not a procrastinator so much as a fiddler, someone who fills her or his time fussing over little tasks. You’re busy busy busy all the time, but somehow, nothing important ever seems to get done.

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    You need the wisdom of the pickle jar. Take a pickle jar and fill it up with sand. Now try to put a handful of rocks in there. You can’t, right? There’s no room.

    If it’s important to put the rocks in the jar, you’ve got to put the rocks in first. Fill the jar with rocks, now try pouring in some pebbles. See how they roll in and fill up the available space? Now throw in a couple handfuls of gravel. Again, it slides right into the cracks. Finally, pour in some sand.

    For the metaphorically impaired, the pickle jar is all the time you have in a day. You can fill it up with meaningless little busy-work tasks, leaving no room for the big stuff, or you can do the big stuff first, then the smaller stuff, and finally fill in the spare moments with the useless stuff.

    To put it into practice, sit down tonight before you go to bed and write down the three most important tasks you have to get done tomorrow. Don’t try to fit everything you need, or think you need, to do, just the three most important ones.

    In the morning, take out your list and attack the first “Big Rock”. Work on it until it’s done or you can’t make any further progress. Then move on to the second, and then the third. Once you’ve finished them all, you can start in with the little stuff, knowing you’ve made good progress on all the big stuff. And if you don’t get to the little stuff? You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you accomplished three big things. At the end of the day, nobody’s ever wished they’d spent more time arranging their pencil drawer instead of writing their novel, or printing mailing labels instead of landing a big client.

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    3. Covey Quadrants

    If you just can’t relax unless you absolutely know you’re working on the most important thing you could be working on at every instant, Stephen Covey’s quadrant system as written in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change might be for you.

    Covey suggests you divide a piece of paper into four sections, drawing a line across and a line from top to bottom. Into each of those quadrants, you put your tasks according to whether they are:

    1. Important and Urgent
    2. Important and Not Urgent
    3. Not Important but Urgent
    4. Not Important and Not Urgent

      The quadrant III and IV stuff is where we get bogged down in the trivial: phone calls, interruptions, meetings (QIII) and busy work, shooting the breeze, and other time wasters (QIV). Although some of this stuff might have some social value, if it interferes with your ability to do the things that are important to you, they need to go.

      Quadrant I and II are the tasks that are important to us. QI are crises, impending deadlines, and other work that needs to be done right now or terrible things will happen. If you’re really on top of your time management, you can minimize Q1 tasks, but you can never eliminate them – a car accident, someone getting ill, a natural disaster, these things all demand immediate action and are rarely planned for.

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      You’d like to spend as much time as possible in Quadrant II, plugging away at tasks that are important with plenty of time to really get into them and do the best possible job. This is the stuff that the QIII and QIV stuff takes time away from, so after you’ve plotted out your tasks on the Covey quadrant grid, according to your own sense of what’s important and what isn’t, work as much as possible on items in Quadrant II (and Quadrant I tasks when they arise).

      Getting to Know You

      Spend some time trying each of these approaches on for size. It’s hard to say what might work best for any given person – what fits one like a glove will be too binding and restrictive for another, and too loose and unstructured for a third. You’ll find you also need to spend some time figuring out what makes something important to you – what goals are your actions intended to move you towards.

      In the end, setting priorities is an exercise in self-knowledge. You need to know what tasks you’ll treat as a pleasure and which ones like torture, what tasks lead to your objectives and which ones lead you astray or, at best, have you spinning your wheels and going nowhere.

      These three are the best-known and most time-tested strategies out there, but maybe you’ve got a different idea you’d like to share? Tell us how you set your priorities in the comments.

      More Tips for Effective Prioritization

      Featured photo credit: Mille Sanders via unsplash.com

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