Client Responsibilities

Your Responsibilities as a Client

by Jeremy Buff — Posted in Business on August 5, 2014

Raindrops on Glass

So, you've just hired that web designer, agency, or freelancer. Everything is going to go just as planned, right? Incorrect.

I'm sure you know, or maybe you don't (no shame!), that web design and development is a very complex industry. Application (web or native) development is even more complex. There are a ton of different ways to accomplish tasks, some better than others.

There are two basic types of resources used - internal and external. I'll give you examples of both. Internal resources are resources used to produce external resources, sometimes known as deliverables, because they are delivered to the client. An example of an internal resource is a Photoshop document created to design a website. An external resource would be the images extracted from the design and used in the website. Sometimes final deliverables are tangible, sometimes they are intangible. For instance, the layout of a website can be thought of as intangible because it is not a single file or single segment of code. The code itself is an external resource, because it is in a file that can be delivered, but the general concept of layout is not tangible.

Another great example of an intangible deliverable is consultation, advice, or answers to questions posed by a client. These are all services offered to the client, and constitute a deliverable. You are paying for much more than just a website: you are paying for expertise, advice, and yes, deliverables.

Many of the responsibilities of the business or individual that you hire out significantly depend upon you. Who you hire out (hopefully me!) will have questions for you, often asked in a meeting or over the phone, but sometimes in a questionnaire or other documentation such as emails. Additionally, you will need to provide resources such as images, access to third-party resources, and text content.

It is imperative that you are willing, ready, and capable to provide these assets. Without these assets, even assets that appear could be delayed until a later point in time, the timeline, costs, project integrity, and overall success could be severely impacted. Who you hire may not be able to continue efficiently, or at all, without input and resources from you.

For example, let's say you own a Mercedes-Benz car dealership. You come to me requesting a new website to be designed and developed for your dealership. One requirement of the project is to list the current inventory of your dealership. Let's say your inventory is tracked by a software system Mercedes-Benz corporate provides to all of its dealerships. I would need access to that system via something called an API, which stands for Application Programming Interface. This API allows me to access the system and extract data from it, such as all the models currently listed as in the inventory.

If I do not have access to this system, or access is delayed, I am unable to proceed with the project. Being ready, willing, and capable to provide resources to who you hire is absolutely crucial. Issues like this can cause significant delays in the project. In contracts that my clients and I sign, there is a section regarding just this. I cannot be held responsible for the failure to provide access to these resources, or if the resources you provide are not integrally supported. In other words, if the system in our Mercedes-Benz example cannot provide the number of cars currently on the lot, I cannot possibly include that on the website. This may seem like common sense, but it often comes as a shock when projects are delayed.

Potential issues like this should be raised in preliminary project discussions so that all parties involved understand their responsibilities, the risks involved, and what to do in the event an issue is unavoidable. Sometimes they must be addressed when they occur, but let's hope everything goes smoothly.

If you endeavor to provide all necessary resources, and answer all questions asked, then your project should go smoothly. There are always chances for delays, especially when a new or unfamiliar technology or resource is used, but being open, honest, and communicatory is the key to success.

Thank you for reading.

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