I giving some serious thought to this and would like to know what people think about it.
I had lunch with a women’s professional group and the lady across the table was telling me her story. She basically said, “I used to be a web developer. But people treat web developers so badly and we always had to deal with a certain amount of people who didn’t pay, that I left the industry.”
Unfortunately, I have heard this time and time again from not just women but men in the industry and I know people with very prestigious clients in which this has happened. Sometimes the stories are pretty shocking. Being a web developer is a highly skilled position and I hate to see people quit because of the way they were treated.
And it just so happens that the conversation with me hit a nerve because we have a client who now has a year’s worth of work and is trying to get out of paying for the work. We did a great job and the quality of the work is not the issue. They just don’t want to pay. They want the equivalent of two years of service for the price of one. Because it’s a retailer with multiple stores, we basically extended our work on credit because I thought we would get paid (we did the first year) but when the year two bills came due – guess what no check. We’ve moved to a prepay model because we’ve gotten burned on this before.
But what I am finding in conversations with professionals (and I’ve been doing this 15 years) is that there are some deep pervasive problems in the industry between some client/developer relationships. And we all know that many clients have so little background in understanding the web that they can have some unrealistic expectations at times. I’ll use this one as a small example – Like the client I had once who expected me to setup his email accounts on his iPhone. I explained that as a web developer, that kind of service is not generally covered with the price of site but since he was my client I obliged. But it cost me a trip, time and unreimbursed services.
So here’s what I am thinking: I’ve kind of glanced at some professional web developers groups but I don’t quite see the instrument that I am envisioning already in place. What I am thinking is that we need some kind of group like “National Federation of Web Developers” and the sole purpose of that group is to formulate a general set of best practices and expectations for web professionals to present to their clients that say, “I belong to the National Federation of Web Developers and we like for our clients to read and acknowledge this before we begin the work…”
And of course one of the things it needs to say is that we expect to get paid. I think the document can say some other things like, “What to expect from us…” because any business relationship needs to be a two-way relationship. We all use contracts and there are times in life when we use them and don’t use them. But we’ve all seen payment problems even with signed contracts. It’s doesn’t happen with the majority of business but when it does – it stings a business really hard and we all know it. So we kind of feel the need for something more universal that acknowledges and addresses some of the problems of the industry.
The thought is that if clients had to think about some issues before we begin, then those issues might not occur.
At any rate, my thought is to found a group to address the concerns and develop a document. Develop a document that can be used as a tool by web professionals and then let the group develop potentially educational sessions for other business professionals to learn how to select qualified web professionals and what the expectations and deliverables should be and why we founded the organization to help both the web professional and the business owner in order to achieve better working relationships.
So I am putting this out on the web to see what other web professionals think about the idea.
If you have input, you can email me at: