Client relationships are tough. We have our expertise and they have theirs. We have a business to run and so do they. It’s easy to get caught up in the “us” verses “them” mindset. When a client asks for something, we do it. Simple, right? Well, not quite. As experts, we need to understand what core goals the client has for any given change to the site, and offer suggestions and guidance when we can. Furthermore, clients don’t know what they don’t know, so it’s up to us to be an active partner in the relationship and suggest improvements.
The reason I wanted to work in the ecommerce business was because I wanted to see a direct correlation between the work I did every day and its affect on the public. I know that changes I make to the codebase directly influence the conversion rate and the bottom line for the sites I work on. Before, when I was working on brochure websites, it was hard to tell the utility of what I did outside of Google rankings and subjective aesthetic value. By moving to ecommerce, I stopped working so much for designers and site crawlers, and started working for the user.
Being a User Advocate
Wait a minute… I though we were talking about clients… now we’re talking about users? What gives? Well, they go hand in hand. You need to be a user advocate to your client. Passive client relationships are poisonous. Who wants to spend their career updating social media icons to the latest “cool” design, anyway? Instead, you should be an active participant in your client relationship.
I’m always keeping an eye out on Twitter and Feedly for anything relevant to making the client’s site better for users. Carousel on the homepage? Show them the research and articles by Erik Runyon and Brad Frost about how users rarely click on anything past the first slide. Show render time differences with WebpageTest.org by removing the extra 4 images in the slider. Follow that up by showing them the research gathered by Luke W about how each second the user waits for the page to load decreases conversion rates by 7%.
Create an argument arsenal that is bulletproof and make the changes to the site that you want to make. You will gain the client’s trust by showing them you have a vested interest in the conversion rate and bottom line of their site. I’ve seen it firsthand. By sending WebpageTest.org reports and articles from industry leaders, clients no longer see you as a means to an end, but as an ally. Soon, you’re being asked to be in phone calls and offer feedback on new initiatives and projects.
With the help of WebpageTest.org, I’ve been able to generate new business for my team, in addition to improving the user experience. When users are happy, they spend money. When users spend money, our clients are happy. When the clients are happy, they want to spend more money with us. With all of this happiness and of all this money being spent, you’ve basically reinvigorated the economy and solved world peace … so what are you waiting for?
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