January 3, 2013 at 1:05 am #9127
(Thinking this is best filed under general discussion; sorry if not.)
I’m curious how other developers deal with clients who have almost no computer abilities.
I didn’t realize when taking on this client that she didn’t know things as basic as how to refresh her browser, type a URL in a navigation bar, rename image files on her computer, or attach images to a email. I spent a lot of extra time teaching her these things along the way, and then spent 2.5 hours on what probably should have been a 30-40 minute dashboard orientation after her site went live. The orientation was recorded and is available to her as a youtube video and I provided her with links to the codex, but I am still getting very basic questions such as how to add an image to a page. She is at the end of her free support period and so I am about to nicely remind her that her questions (which can be incredibly time consuming to answer because I have to super explain everything very detailed and simply) are going to be subject to my hourly rate…but I feel sort of bad about it, because I kept telling her how easy it would be for her to edit her site (having no idea that she just knew nothing about computers).
Has anyone else experienced this type of thing with a client and how did you handle it? I’m wondering (for future projects) if it is fair along the way to increase the project fee or add an amendment for additional time spent communicating with the client which is beyond that expected and built into the cost of the proposal?
January 3, 2013 at 5:31 am #9144
Me… personally, when I consult with a client I try to gauge their computer skills. I ask them questions about what they know how to do and what they don’t know how to do. It may be “easy” for us but not for someone else. I have done sites for people who have excellent computer skills, but don’t know a thing about websites and how to maneuver around the internet, use social media, etc. So I learned… not to say… how easy it would be for them. Now what you could do, is offer them a prepaid maintenance agreement which is what I offer my clients. I explain the agreement to them during our initial meeting that if during their training, or during their support period, that they feel they need 1) more training or 2) would like to enter into a maintenance agreement – we need to stop at that point and get one of those done. You may want to explain to her that the support period is ending and that you can offer her a few hours of training for $X.XX, or she can enter into a prepaid maintenance agreement. If neither one is acceptable to her – you will have to be like a mamma bird and let that bird fly/fall on their own.January 3, 2013 at 6:22 am #9148
Hi Amber, I don’t envy your position I had a look at your site (it’s lovely by the way) and it seems someone who would be able to complete your customer intake process should be pretty web savvy.
I’ve had clients like that as well and the way I try to mitigate the problem is by by saying upfront that they only get a 1 hour Skype consult once their site goes live. Additional coaching will incur my hourly rate. If they protest I point out that other customers only need an hour or sometimes less and that I also provide a series of comprehensive tutorial videos (unfortunately my customers hardly ever use them).
In fact maybe you can send her to my site to view the tutorials – http://clickwp.com/kb-topic/wp101/. She’ll need to sign up for a free account because I can’t offer the videos for free under the licensing terms.
Good luck with your customer!
January 4, 2013 at 6:51 am #9466
Yes I have some clients like that. In my experience, no amount of tutoring makes any difference to the ones who struggle to use email and cannot type in a URL – they just don’t seem to get on the technological train at any station. I have tutorial videos included with my monthly hosting/maintenance fee. So after my 2 hours included tuition in which I point to the videos frequently, if they are still struggling I sell them my maintenance services. Mostly they are relieved that someone will do it for them, and it’s income for me – so we all win. I do expect people to email me explicit instructions and not text me incomprehensible txt language as happened recently…January 4, 2013 at 9:21 am #9485
Susan NelsonParticipantJanuary 4, 2013 at 7:35 pm #9642
I was checking out Mark Jaquinth’s webpage and he has an interesting plugin called WP Help. It enables you to create help topics within the dashboard for whatever you are working on. I haven’t even used wp yet, but I may be using this plugin. Anybody?January 4, 2013 at 8:12 pm #9661
WP101 is a great set of tutorial videos. Those are the ones that I licensed for my site
WP Help is really useful – I use it too. However I find it best for documentation for site specific features, i.e. “In case you forget the setup of your site, you can refer to this page here in your dashboard”
January 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm #9669
Thanks for all the thoughts and especially the link to WP Help. I’ll have to look into that, since the WP documentation doesn’t cover some of the specialized functions or plugins I have built into sites. Although, I will say that what is especially frustrating about this situation is that I currently do all of my trainings in Google Hangouts which allows me to record the entire session and post it as a private video on my YouTube account; this particular client is asking me how to do things that I know I showed her (and thus recorded in the training video) multiple times.
This last time, I offered a maintenance plan and reminded her as nicely as I can that I cannot keep supporting her for free (and have not heard back since). I think you’re right, Anitac, that this may just be one of those push out of the nest situations.
In the future I will definitely have to better gauge prospective clients’ computer/internet abilities. I offer some maintenance plans, but to be honest it’s not something I want to do a lot of unless there is a significant amount of regular on-going work — that’s why I stopped building in Dreamweaver and started building in WP. I really only do this part-time, my main job right now being parenting and I have no interest in having people call me when I’m at the beach with my kid because of some emergency change they need done to their website, or filling my calendar with minuscule word/image changes across a bunch of different websites that could be done by their owners. Next time, I may just decline to take on a client that seems to have so few skills or I’ll have to figure out how to be more explicit about how much training and assistance is included in our agreement.
January 4, 2013 at 9:27 pm #9675
I find multiple advantages to having clients who are borderline computer illiterate. I coach them up to the degree necessary to do the job. Then they are no longer computer illiterate.
I have more problems with DIY clients who are clueless, but at a higher level. I have one who engages in amateur SEO — staggering around, she wiped out all custom title tags I’d done — and I’m probably going to drop her. (I am fine with DIY clients who are competent or stay in their sandboxes.)
All that said, I just had a longtime client tell me he had no idea that clicking on the image on a home page slider led to the actual content. And no one else in his audience knows that. He wants “click here” on everything. He is a great guy and a good client, but what galled me was his assertion that I failed to do this because I don’t know how regular people use the Internet. Ugh. If I didn’t have a good idea how regular people use the Internet, I’d be terrible at my job.January 16, 2013 at 11:44 pm #12571
Haha, Nazz. That’s exactly like this client of mine. She wanted labels and directions on everything “just to make sure it’s clear.” It ended up making for a really interesting design.
January 17, 2013 at 7:58 am #12612
I use Camtasia and have made a series of short videos, properly titled, that cover 90% of what they need to go. I found videos are better because they don’t retain info giving them them verbally and have difficulty following written instructions. This alone has cut my support requests down by 80%. But built into my fee, I also make a video that walks them through their theme and how to make simple changes.
That said, it’s verbally addressed and covered in my contract that all they can do is “simple updates” and I spell it out. If they choose to make design changes, changes in the style.css or add plugins without consulting me, I’m not liable and will charge to fix what they’ve broken.
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