When I was a kid, I really wanted a dog. The challenge was that neither my parents nor I knew anything about dogs. But they let me get one.
I picked a beagle.
If you don’t know, they’re great hunting dogs. They look cute. But they’re not great pets. And if they’re not exercised, they dig and destroy things.
We tried taking my dog to obedience classes and they have us our money back when they saw the dog. This was a hunting dog, not a heeling dog.
Clearly my choices didn’t match my needs.
I wanted a pet. I loved that dog, but he never was much of a pet.
My First Car
My very first car was a Ford Escort. I was sixteen, my dad worked for Ford, and it was a lease perk of his job. All of that is my effort to explain why I drove that cool car.
After about six months my dad asked me if I’d been taking care of my car. I said yes because I thought he was asking if I’d gotten it washed every now and then.
He, of course, didn’t care about car washes. He was wondering about oil changes, and I hadn’t done one.
Clearly my efforts hadn’t matched my responsibilities.
My First Client
I built my first website for a client in early 1995. They wanted a six page site. I can’t recall correctly but I think I did it for $200.
Some months later my client called, asking if web page updates were included. I said no, and that it would be an additional charge. But his budget was gone and he was left wondering how he’d go about making changes.
Clearly his expectations didn’t match his budget.
Did you catch the theme?
In case you haven’t caught the thread of these stories, let me be extra clear.
You can’t own a dog unless you expect to exercise it.
You can’t own a car unless you expect to take it in for maintenance.
And you can’t own a website unless you expect to update and refresh it.
Website Refresh Schedules
If you’re looking to have a website built, by all means, embrace this truth and create a budget to update or refresh it.
People wonder how often to refresh a business site and I tell them that from a design perspective they might get away with 12-18 months.
But from a code perspective, if you’re not updating core code, theme files, and plugins more regularly than that, you’re doing it wrong. Take your site in for maintenance every 2-3 months.
If you need to find someone to help you, hit me up and I’ll get you a recommendation.
Managing Customer Expectations
If you’re building sites for customers, you need to be up front with them. There will be further costs down the line. Maybe to you. Maybe to someone else. But maintenance and refreshes will be required and will have costs.
So if a client gives you their budget, ask the right questions. Make sure they understand what it has to cover. I’ve been known to leave 30-40% of their budget available for future work.
And that means managing expectations, as well as sometimes shrinking the initial scope.
But have this conversation up front, not down the line when you’ve burned thru most of their budget.
My Latest Car
I don’t drive a Ford Escort anymore. And I don’t live at home with my folks anymore. Thankfully, I don’t need my dad asking if I’m taking care of my car. I plan for it.
And to end this post, I’ll tell you one last thing I did when I picked my Lexus. I was looking at an Audi, Mercedes, BMW, and a Lexus. The purchase prices varied by about $10,000. I didn’t care.
I compared total cost of ownership over five years, because I knew I had to plan for maintenance costs. That’s how I picked my car and how you should pick your next web development partner.