In a recent post, we took a look at the characteristics of the ideal WordPress developer by building the DEV-BOT 5000, a robot embodying the perfect mix of skill, experience, and responsiveness.
Well, turnabout’s fair play, right?
In this post, we’re going to build the perfect WordPress client for our DEV-BOT 5000. Its name: the Ideal Client Engineer – Curious Responsive Engaged Active Model 5000.
ICE-CREAM 5000, for short. (Because who doesn’t love ice cream?)
We started out by asking some of WordPress developers what traits their ideal client would possess, and we’ve sorted out their responses below.
What makes for an ideal WordPress client? Read on as we build ICE-CREAM 5000!
The Perfect WordPress Client Is …
Prepared For The Experience
Our ideal WordPress client-bot is absolutely ready to work with the developer. That doesn’t necessarily mean he knows precisely what he wants — every font, every layout feature, every hex code, or color value — but he does have at least some ideas on the following:
- The general layout — e.g., full-screen, two columns with a sidebar, centered column with sidebars on either side, etc.
- Color scheme — usually based on an existing logo (and he’s got that logo in a PNG file, too)
- An overall “vibe” or aesthetic sense of the site as a whole
- Specific pages and content
- Desired functions — e.g., search bar, forum or message board, contact form, blog
Our expert developers agreed: the perfect WordPress client doesn’t have to know every single piece of the website puzzle before the project begins … but she should be able to make decisions when the developer presents her with a list of options.
In other words, the ideal WordPress client is decisive — and that’s why we’ll program ICE-CREAM to make a decision promptly, and then stick to it.
No more endless rounds of “you know, now that I think about it, that other shade of green might be better here after all.”
No “hey, what if instead we just used this whole other typography scheme?” two weeks after the wireframe has already been accepted.
ICE-CREAM will evaluate its options, pick one, and stick with it!
Ready And Willing To Learn
Our developer panel also agreed that it’s not necessary for their dream clients to be WordPress pros from the beginning, but they should be willing to educate themselves on WordPress.
Web designer and content expert, Ginger Gillenwater, added that a lot of that education should come from the developer:
“[R]eally, to build the ideal client it all comes down to educating them on the process. Speak in terms that they understand because a client who is not familiar with the process can get lost in the details. A confused client is not a good client, but that’s not necessarily their fault if they aren’t properly introduced to what is happening.
“Because when building my ideal client, I assume they know nothing. I tell them what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I ask them to ask me questions so I can provide them with answers. I ask what they are expecting to achieve and then I tell them how we’re going to achieve it. I make it clear that it’s a collaborative process and not a solo one. Sometimes I have clients that hire me to build a website or optimize their existing one who are knowledgeable of old school SEO tactics, so they think that’s how it is. I’ll perform an audit or give them a checklist of what I am going to do based off of the latest SEO standards so they can see what those standards are. They understand, I explain the next step, tell them what I’m doing every step of the way, and answer their questions. When they are comfortable with the amount of communication, they become easy to work with.”
So our ICE-CREAM robot will readily accept suggestions and input from the developer. He’ll then tackle that WordPress learning curve.
Through a combination of reading, asking questions, and exploring the WordPress environment, he’ll learn to…
- Get around the Dashboard
- Add a new page
- Write, preview, and publish new content
- Upload and optimize images
- Add and activate new plugins
But speaking of those plugins …
We’re not suggesting ICE-CREAM should vote the straight GOP ticket in the next election.
Instead, many on our expert panel suggested that the ideal WordPress client is conservative when it comes to managing and growing the site — especially when it comes to plugins.
As Laird Sapir, web developer and owner of Memphis McKay, put it: “The best ones don’t run amok installing plugins. I work really closely with a phenomenal web host, and he and I have a running joke about Frankensites.”
Dream clients only install the plugins the site actually needs, and they do their research first instead of simply picking one at random out of the plugin search results in the Dashboard.
Branding expert and developer, Nick Leffler put it best:
“The ideal client is, of course, the one that approaches the expert as just that, the expert. A client that treats me as an order taker is a client I won’t deal with. The client should be receptive to ideas and understand that I live and breathe business development on the web. A client who realizes what they’re good at and wants to partner with me for what I’m good at is the ideal client. *drop mic*”
And Randy Brown, WordPress blogger adds, “The ideal client would know what they want rather than know it when the see it” but “will also have a realistic understanding of what the job requires.”
Our ICE-CREAM won’t treat the developer like a waiter at a chain restaurant. Rather, it’s receptive to the developer’s suggestions, considers them all, and gives some weight to the developer’s recommendations before making a final decision.
A Good Communicator
Great communication skills are critical for ideal WordPress clients as well as their ideal developers.
Randy Brown noted how important communication skills are:
“They don’t really need to know how to code, but they need to know about coding. This will help them communicate what they need and they’ll have a better understanding of how long it will take and how much it should cost. They need to understand what’s involved if they need to make a change.”
But what constitutes good communication when it comes to a WordPress site project?
Well, Laird Sapir described it for us: “Ideal clients don’t email a million times in rapid succession over one issue (especially on weekends!) – they email once, communicating the level of importance of the request, explaining the issue clearly, and wait a reasonable amount of time before emailing again.”
In other words, our client-bot doesn’t flood the DEV-BOT with endless emails and multiple questions. Instead, it’ll organize its thoughts first, then communicate them concisely and considerately, so our DEV-BOT doesn’t get overwhelmed.
A Match For Your Skills And Style
Finally, our experts made a pretty astute observation: what makes a client ideal for one WordPress developer might make that client a bad fit for another developer.
WordPress developers have varying levels of skill and experience, and they also have different styles of working and even areas of specialization. Someone who specializes in putting up traditional, super-professional and formal websites for law firms isn’t necessarily the best choice for an up-and-coming avant-garde interior design firm’s site.
So it stands to reason that the ideal client for one might look very different than the ideal client for another.
In closing, Nikole Gipps, developer and owner of That Super Girl, gives us an example: “I think you need to find something that is a match for your own personality. Like … I can’t deal with a lot of emotional people that need their hands held. So I don’t take them on as clients.”
What do you think of ICE-CREAM 5000? (Does anyone else want a hot fudge sundae right now?) Did I leave out a crucial bit of programming for our ideal client robot? Feel free to share below!