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another_noob

When The Client'S Specifications Are Vague

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I hope this is the appropriate place to post this. I have two entirely different client projects in progress at the moment. One is a training website for an automotive manufacturer, but is being handled through a consulting company. The other project is a basic website turning into an e-commerce site. In both of these projects the clients were rather vague in what exactly they wanted for an end result. The training website started out as a request for a mobile app. At my initial meeting I suggested that what they really need is a web application that is accessible by all mobile devices. They agree because they didn't really know the difference between a mobile app and a web application. Their lack of knowing what they wanted, what is possible and what would work best for end users made it very difficult for me to write code for something I really can't see! After several meetings and rough draft rewrites, I finally designed a web app that will work great for them. I ended up eating a bunch of time because I wanted the gig and there may be a lot more work from this consulting firm if I "come through"  for them. They are happy so far based on the checks they are sending me. The other project started as a basic website that I felt was a waste of money for the client. I suggested more of an e-commerce site and the client was very receptive to the idea. This is a project that keeps growing as the client learns what is possible. I actually spend two days a week at the clients location to "get a better feel" of his business operation. I have a lot of work yet on the site, but it is coming along and the client is very happy so far. Now, as my name states, I am another_noob that seems to be diving a little too far into the deep end. I am trying to use common sense, but as we all know sometimes that can get us in trouble. In these two scenarios, is this just the way the business works or am I flying a little too much by the seat of my pants due to a lack of experience?  I am looking forward to some input from those who have been there done that and from those who get sweaty hands just reading this.  

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The answer is: Yes. This is both the way some businesses work and you're flying by the seat of your pants due to a lack of experience. But that's okay. If your client's are happy and you're okay with the result (the money, the amount of work), that's a total win. This is exactly how you learn, and you should often be diving a little too far into the deep end. 

 

Really, it sounds like you're doing exactly what you should be doing. Educating clients is part of the gig. Winging it is part of the gig. With the next client, you can do a better job of saying "We need to get some of this in stone or else it'll cost you more money". But that's okay. 

 

I would caution anyone not to focus too much on the money (how much you made for how much work) early on. You've made some money, but you've also established relationships, added to your portfolio, and gained experience. Those are all extremely valuable. 

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Thank you very much for the reply Larry. I agree about the money part. If I boiled this down to how much per hour I made, well...the number would be pretty low. I was looking at it as you stated, gaining experience, gaining a clients trust, building a portfolio and oh yeah, getting some money too. In each of these scenarios the client and the situation were entirely different and required a different approach to the way I had to handle things. I am sure the next situation will be different in other ways or a blend of the two and will require yet a different approach. 

 

I will keep plugging along and keep learning the code and just as important learning the business side of all this. By the way, if I have not mentioned it before, your books have helped me launch a new career and a new professional life. Thanks for all you have done for me and others who have read your books and gained "marketable knowledge". I am choosing to use Stripe mainly because you took the job there and because I hate dealing with PayPal...lol. Thanks again.

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That's great to hear. Thanks for the nice words. It sounds like you've got the perfect attitude, so I'm confident that you'll do well. Be honest, work hard and never stop learning. Those are the keys.

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