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Avoid Technical Details with Non-Technical Clients
Date 1/5/2009    Tags Advise    (0)

I've got a very technical educational background in addition to spending way too many hours playing with computers, stereo equipment, and other assorted electronic devices. I can throw out all kinds of impressive sounding jargon, but when it comes to dealing with clients, you need to be a lot less technical and avoid explaining things on a low level if at all possible.

I made the mistake a year or so ago for a simple website when I started going too in depth (really not even that in depth IMO) on a feature they weren't even asking for. The client wanted a basic page for his band. Instead of just taking in what he wanted to do, I casually mentioned to him how we could create a template for his website that would easily allow him to add new pages and update the entire look of the page at once. At the time I felt this was a good selling point for me since many developers just create HTML copies of each page and force the user to modify dozens if not hundreds of files to update the look of their page. I wanted the client to see a clear benefit in going with my services.

Mentioning templates caused a rather unexpected turn for the worse though... instead of talking about his band and his site (which we had been), we were talking about how these templates would work and, despite my best efforts, he could not grasp the concept. I walked through the entire process, each time trying to dumb it down more, about three times in total. I was completely unable to change the subject back to his site because he kept asking me questions about the templates and I stupidly kept expecting he would understand my explanations despite a clear history of complete befuddlement. It was like a really bad horror movie.

When I hung up with the client, he mostly seemed confused about templates. Not surprisingly, I didn't end up getting that job.

Using a template for a website is certainly a good thing to do and saves a ton of time down the road. I always use some kind of template design (MasterPages in for any website I create. My prospective client didn't need to know this though and especially didn't need to understand how it worked. By bringing up a nice feature outside of the scope of the application and then trying to explain it at far too low a level, I inadvertently drove my client away. /tds/go.php?

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