Web Design Issues - The Client Who Wants To Make Millions

We often get requests in to assist people with building their websites - no surprises there; we are, after all, a web design company.

But these requests often need to be translated from some form of Klingon or other alien language since often it feels as if the potential client is just making a fleeting visit to planet earth.

Some examples:

"Hi, i would like to start an advertising buisness (sic) that allows me to generate money while people are surfing into my web. The problem is I just do not have enough info about Enzine."

"I require a website that I can use to have customers registering and bidding online, also need to have a feature where users can buy tokens."

"I want to have a web, graphic and search engine software. If you can't you can't design me the software, how about you give a search engine quote. I just want only 5 pages and the rest I will do. I am a web designer so I find it difficult to design search engine for my self."

We also get requests from people who want to have Facebook clones, Ebay type sites or a shopping cart 'like Amazon'.

One of the biggest problems seem to be that of unrealistic expectations of what a website can do or cannot do, and how much it will cost.

What people do not realize are some of the following factors:

1. It is a lot more difficult to 'make money on the Internet' than other people would want you to believe. It is in Internet Marketers and other 'gooroos' best interest to let you believe that making money with a website is as easy as pie.

The hard truth is that turning a profit from a website is really, really difficult, especially one that is aiming high. Even wildly successful internet endeavors such as Facebook and Amazon took years and years before they started to show profit.

2. In a lot of cases, people just do not know enough about the Internet and how it works to start up such a venture successfully.

That is not to say that we are belittling people who want to start ventures such as these. We all have to start somewhere, and even Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg at one stage knew nothing about the Internet or websites, but come on... there is a wealth of information available out there today as well as these sites that can be used as case studies. How much did Facebook cost to implement? It is reputed that angel investors poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the site.

We then get requests for social networking types of sites with clear 'want to make millions' aspirations behind it and when we try and understand the client's budget it is in the region of about $1000 - if we are lucky.

3. People seem to really think that getting the site built is enough. They suffer from the classic 'build it and they will come' fallacy. There is no clear understanding of what it takes to get visitors to a site, or how to market the site either online or offline.

This leaves us, as the web design company, with an ethical dilemma. Do we implement the site and leave the client to his own devices? A version of 'take the money and run'? Or do we tell the client that his brilliant idea is just never going to fly.

Unfortunately that means that we will probably go out of business too since about 50% of the websites we build are based on some crazy business idea. The other alternative is to act not only as a web design company but also as a consulting firm, dispensing advice, coaching and guiding the client.

After all, that is really what customers expect from a web design company, not so?

The question is - how much is this advice worth and how does one work it into the business model of the web design company?

This type of advice and consulting takes up an inordinate amount of time and effort and working that into the costing of a website tends to push the costs up even more - try and work those costs into the 'new cool social networking site that will merge Facebook, Youtube and Twitter, to be called YouTwitFace, site' and see what happens to website costs!

About the Author: Christine Anderssen is the owner of Tailormade4you, a website design and hosting company specializing in building cost effective websites for small business owners in South Africa.