Managing WebDev Client Expectations, Part 10
Regardless how wonderful your execution is of their website development, the relationship can sour due to a lack of expectation management on the back end. Most often, this scenario can be brought about by technical issues.
Since this is an area largely unknown and therefore misunderstood by many clients, make a special effort to get out in front of any such landmines. Here are some major ones you should be aware of regarding a new website launch:
Even after a successful launch, sometimes websites go down for reasons beyond anyone’s control. Be prepared by:
- Finding out who hosts the client’s existing site (if there is one), and getting contact details for their tech support
- Making it clear to the client that site hosting is a separate function from site development. Be sure they understand that hosting fees are a recurring annual charge and will need to be monitored and ensured that they are paid by someone in the client’s organization. You may, alternatively, offer that your firm will continue managing all aspects of the site on a paid annual contract, if you offer such services.
It may be that you’ll need to make a domain transfer, which can sometimes go off the rails if their current domain manager is miffed about losing the business and isn’t inclined to be cooperative about enabling the changeover.
- Make sure the client understands that, in this process, you’re largely at the mercy of the registrar and possibly someone who’s currently managing their domain.
- Get contact details for the current domain registrar’s tech support, and find out who currently controls their domain.
- Let the client know that domain registration is also a recurring annual charge, and will either be someone in their organization's responsibility, or that your company can continue managing all aspects of the site, if you offer that service.
If the client’s email accounts are embedded in their current web hosting account, their email could possibly go down for 24-48 hours. Prepare them for this possibility, then:
- Find out who controls current email accounts within your client’s organization, and get contact details for that person.
- Ascertain how many email accounts the client currently has, and whether or not they will need more.
- Ask if they require a VPN, which may mean you have to configure a different email server entirely.
Make sure the client is aware that a public website launch doesn’t just happen all at once. Explain that several processes are going on to enable the launch, and sometimes—after all the buttons are pressed on your end—it’s a matter of being patient and waiting until the site propagates to the Web.
- Understand that “going live” is not the same as “launched.” Going live happens when those responsible for user testing can access it as needed, launch is when it becomes “real”—ready for anyone to use, for the public to see and respond to, for the marketing department to use as an active tool.
- Decide what expectations are for the launch from all parties, and agree among you what constitutes “launched.”
- Agree on what activities will be undertaken around the launch—news releases, a related blog post, social media notifications—and make sure they are properly timed to allow for this lag.