Why hack client-developer communication at all? let us start with the facts: dealing with clients suck. Big Time. They are opinionated, often about stuff they know very little about. They don’t take the time to explain themselves clearly. And more ofter than not, their requests are vague, inconsistent, or just plain stupid. Pheww… I just had to get this out of my system. I think I’m OK now. Let’s back up for a minute and give you a little background.
A little background
My name is Oren and I am the CTO of a web design company called Benzo Media in Tel Aviv, Israel. Our agency is small and consists of me, and my brother, Tom, who is our chief designer. Benzo Media has been around for four years now, and business is good. We make sure not to take on super big clients that will block all our time and make us dependent on them. Instead, we love medium-size clients with cool projects that they are passionate about.
Building a website today
So everything is great right? wrong. Ever since we started Benzo Media we had a hard time with our clients. Dealing with them was always a tedious task. They didn’t always know how to define what they wanted, and getting feedback on our work was extremely annoying. Our clients were lacking the basic language of website building so it became increasingly frustrating trying to figure out what a client meant. This process included screenshots, emails, Whatsapp messages, and long phone calls. Sometimes there was more than one person on the side of the client, which meant navigating the requests of two or more people. Requests that sometimes contradicted one another. It was an absolute nightmare.
How can we fix this
At first, we thought it was their fault. Then, when the experience repeated itself, we tried looking deeper at the problem. We were frustrated and we didn’t want to talk with our clients. Our clients, on the other hand, felt our frustration and were not getting the great experience that we knew we could provide. After all, we were building websites, and building websites is fun. After some thought, we realized that we were expecting too much of our clients. These were regular people, not professional product managers. Most of them had only built one or two websites before in their lives. They had no way of being “good” at giving feedback about digital products.
The tool we (and our clients) need
We decided to supply our clients with the structure and tools to communicate with us in a way that would keep everyone happy. We wanted to give them a home for their project/s. A place where they can log in, view their projects, give feedback and check out the tasks that have already been done. They would need to be able to let us know when they’ve added more tasks, and show us exactly where on the website they wanted us to make changes. Of course, this hub should be super simple to operate because clients are not always very technical. It should also be convenient for us to mark tasks as completed or have a discussion about a certain request.
We’ll build it ourselves
For the last six months, we were hard at work building such a tool and its name is Webscope. It is the first version of what we think can be the best communication platform for web developers and their clients. When a client first logs in they reach the projects screen, where they can see all their projects. They can then see their website in desktop, tablet, or mobile mode. If they want to leave a note, all they need to do is right-click anywhere on the site and a note with a location marker would be created. The note is attributed the URL, type of device, a title, and description. The client can then “ping” their developer to let them know they have added new notes. The developer can “locate” the note by clicking on the note in the notes list in each project. And the best part, each developer can customize the look of the hub, so it will have the branding of their agency.
Our vision for the future
Our next stage is expanding the platform in a way that will help developers give their clients an amazing experience. A platform that will change the way web agencies and web developers communicate with their clients. One complete platform that will present the clients with the complete process, beginning with the price quote and the contract, through the products references, wireframing, design, programming, and payment. We think that this kind of product is long overdue – so we decided we’ll build it.
Join us or tell us we’re wrong
This is going to be our journey for the coming months. We’d love to hear your opinion on our mission, the product, or your way of hacking developer-client communication. If you think we are wrong, let us know. With your feedback, we can hopefully build a great product that will make working with clients a fantastic experience.
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