Project work is hard—not the actual work I have to put into it, but everything else about it.
One of the biggest challenges I run into is determining what a project-based job should cost. Deciding how to estimate a website design and development can cause me to lose a few of the precious hairs I have left, especially if a website is all that a client wants from us.
And the reason it’s tough to do this is simple: Websites are never “done.” How am I supposed to determine when a site is simply “good enough” to stop working on it?
When I look at a website that I built a year ago and haven’t touched since, I want to know what updates the client has made. I start poking around to see what’s new. Hopefully there are updates to the “News” section. Maybe there are some changes to the “About Us” area, or maybe a new job posting has been added. There might even be entirely new pages that show off new products or services. I’d love to see a new video on the homepage or new areas for social media integration. I’ll tell you, nothing makes me cringe harder than seeing a website that I built that looks exactly the same today as it did a year ago.SIS Bank’s website was built by Davis Advertising and is regularly updated with promotional information, blog posts, news pieces and more. As Chris would say, BankSIS.com is a living, breathing object.
The sense of regret I feel when seeing my work “enshrined” may be unique to this very profession. I’m sure when a carpenter sees a house he built looking exactly the same as the day the keys were handed to the new owner, he feels proud that his creation has stood the test of time.
I, on the other hand, feel a little nauseous.
It could be because I tend to think of websites as living, breathing objects. New content is the lifeblood of Search Engine Optimization. It’s also what keeps new users coming and old users coming back. So when I see a site that I spent a lot of time and effort on (setting up analytic tools that will determine the best ways to maximize profits; building SEO-friendly navigation tools) just sitting and rotting, it saddens me to the greatest extent.The website of Globoforce, a longtime Davis client, receives the regular attention it deserves, making Chris a happy web-developing camper.
So, why is project work so hard? I guess it’s because I have trust issues. I am being asked to bring a company to life digitally, and I have to have faith that someone else is going to nourish it and help it grow. I know that as much as I want to point at my newest masterpiece and shout, “I built that!” right now, a year into the future I may want to slowly slink out of the room if I hear it mentioned by anyone. There have been times that I’ve wanted to call past clients and beg for the authority to change a portion of their site. At one point that page was my baby, but now someone’s letting it run around with a dirty diaper.
On the other hand, if I have a lasting relationship with the client that includes a website maintenance plan, quoting the project is easy—and more gratifying. I can always fix something that bothers me, change the navigation based on usage or build customized landing pages to capture information from other ad streams. Although this type of relationship requires more work, it is nowhere near as hard. Project-based work is harder, because I have to let go.