Featured Photo for The client, the IT company and the ethical web professional

The client, the IT company and the ethical web professional

Avatar of Dave Harrison by Dave Harrison

Posted in , ,

Apr 4 2009

When it comes to web solutions, websites, web applications or any combination of these, it has become increasingly clear to me over the years that we are dealing with 3 very different sets of expectations, understanding and objectives. Be assured, not everyone will be singing from the same song sheet.

If you are the web professional in this scenario then it will be useful to be aware of this so you can manage the situation. If you are either of the other two parties in this trio it may be useful to educate yourself a little . In a follow up post I hope to suggest a few strategies for dealing with this revelation, but for now lets just explain a little about each stakeholder

The client

I am talking about the business owner, or their representative. In short the person or persons who have commissioned the website to be built.

What characterises the client

  • High expectations, but with no understanding of the process required to attain these expectations
  • The desire for a quality, cheap solution in a short period of time - (can’t have all three!)
  • Wants (a) even though they actually need (b & c) - often refers to a website they have seen believing it is the answer to all their problems, unaware that much better solutions often exist
  • No interest in problems until after they happen - not quick to take on-board warnings and often see these as an indication of pessimism or a ploy to squeeze them for more money

The IT company

Here I refer to any company who’s business it is to provide web solutions to the client. More specifically I suppose I mean those responsible for the day to day running of the web company and not the actual creative team or developers. Some people refer to them as management

What characterises the web company

  • Wants as little hassle as possible - isn’t there some sort of “magic bullet” web solution that cuts out all the hassle?
  • The desire to be able to generate cashflow - invoices must be paid regularly to take care of the running of the business
  • The desire for a “product” that they can resell, “off the shelf” - this makes good business sense, but is not always in the clients best interests
  • The desire to ultimately exceed the clients expectations and build relationships - repeat business and renewable revenue streams have been the goals of most businesses since the turn of the century and probably before

The ethical web professional

I do not mean to imply that some web professionals are not ethical, that is not for me to say. All I want to illustrate is that some people in the industry care passionately about producing the best possible solution and others just go through the motions in order to get paid.

What characterises the ethical web professional

  • An understanding that each project is unique and must be treated as such. - There is no such thing as a one solution fits all approach. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
  • Is rarely concerned with the day to day issues such as building client relationships or cash flow and invoicing strategies (unless of course you are a freelancer or run your own business in which case this is paramount)
  • Wants to make sure all clients decisions are made based on full information. - If we are sure you have understood all the information presented then any decision you make is of course the right one, until then we will continue to try and communicate this information and make our recommendations
  • Wants to make sure they themselves are in possession of all information and content in order to provide the best possible solution. We cannot provide you with the solution you deserve unless we are in possession of all the information we need. It may seem annoying and unnecessary to you, but trust me it is in your interests to deliver it to us
  • Wants the best solution for all their clients first and foremost, obviously the success or failure of our clients website will reflect on us
  • Is aware of the difficulty in managing these three diverse and often conflicting stakeholders


Well I suppose the point of this post is just to identify that there are often 3 and at least 2 different takes on the whole web development/web design process. There is no better way to resolve these issues than to educate and communicate effectively. I hope this is a good place to start.

And a hat tip to Sergio Leone who inspired the title!

“There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend. Those who have a rope around their neck and those who have the job of cutting.” Tuca