Hammerkit Master Class: What do web repeats look like?
As industry professionals, we sometimes forget that we have in-built capabilities to see beyond the look and feel of a web site. This means we understand what it takes to make something, and just what you can do to repeat a solution. You may have encountered the challenge that your clients cannot do this – they just cannot imagine what it will be and they need you present something that looks just like them in order for them to be confident that you can handle their digital project.
Typically, you need to go through a rather involved process to create a vision for your client of what their web service is going to look like - paper-prototypes, wireframes, static mock-ups and functional descriptions - and a lot of this work is done before you get the deal in many cases! This is risky, time-consuming and more often than not unfulfilling for both you and client. The problem is always, that no matter how beautiful your art is, the final product always misses something that the client thought was going to be there.
There are fantastic examples of how to do it right, and I remember clearly the advice from Paul Boag (@boagworld) that he never, but never does more than one suggested layout and never just sends a visual - he sends a video with him explaining the design choices in context. His view was this avoided what he called "Frankenstein" layouts with bits of functionality grabbed from various options and thrown together in a haphazard way.
When we devised the CloudStore we thought about this. We listened to a many industry practitioners about their approach to the challenge and decided we needed to make it easy for clients to know what they were going to get. To do this, we decided early on that we needed to show "live prototypes" demonstrating how one format has been repeated for different clients. What we underestimated was the value of this small feature – it has gone from being an afterthought to one of the key aspects of repeat ordering.
The point is that the client should not only know what their site is going to look, but also know exactly how it will do it - meaning they can put their hands on the format before they order from you. This sets the expectations at the right level and means the client can order with a high degree of confidence in what they will receive. This is a big change from the current "Ta-Da!" approach to showing the client the finished article (usually to their initial delight and subsequent disappointment).
To overcome this challenge, we are adding more example sites and trying to provide a range of look and feel options that reflect different classes of client; from banking to FMCG. The idea is that we can make it easier for the client to imagine how it will look for them and shorten the sales cycle a little bit more.
It would be great to hear how far you have had to go to get a client to understand what a service might look like before they have ordered.