Web standards for the ordinary person

what we’re talking about here is primarily education of the client for how following web standards directly affects what they’re trying to accomplish. “we know best” is not a sufficient answer (never has been for any industry). nor is just explaining why it’s good in general. you need to dive into directly relating how following web-standards results in happier customers, more page views, more clients and, ultimately, more money in their pockets. that’s a very difficult path to lead them down, but is really the only way to get them to care. i don’t believe that the client is always right and i’ve walked away from stupid clients who refused to listen. if it’s a best practice, don’t compromise on it, and when they come back to you because they went with a cheaper option that didn’t actually give them what they were looking for (because they didn’t follow the “rules”), they’ll have learned a painful lesson, but they’ll come back.

part of this is also defining your target market narrowly enough that some of this education work is already done for you. if part of your initial conversations include a brief discussion of best-practices and why they’re good in general (hopefully as it directly relates to what they do), then you’re most likely most of the way there. if they dismiss the idea as frivolous and a waste of time and money, introduce them to the design debt concept. if they still don’t like it, you’re probably better off without that hassle. sometimes the frustration is not worth the money, actually, a lot of times. it also builds respect for the craft, when they have a bad experience elsewhere, or don’t get the results they wanted, they’ll go looking for something new, and if your pitch was good, they’ll remember and come back AND be open to paying for and understanding the issues (to a degree).

design debt (or technical debt) is a great illustration tool, one i often use. most everyone can relate to it and it really helps to make the sell easier. here’s some resources to read up on:

[book] Refactoring to Patterns by Joshua Kerievsky

Technical Debt

Intentional Technical Debt – great illustration of the business side-effects of bad debt decisions

Technical Debt – has some great links in the article as well

Technical Debt and the Death of Design: Part 1
http://www.scribd.com/doc/2680060/Technical-Debt – same article as an scribd ipaper

Get out of Technical Debt Now! – video



– Randall Noval

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