Project Daisy: Part I.
A business acquaintance of “Max“* called and asked if I could redesign her online store. Max is the client I set up an online store for last year (the whole business is now for sale). The lady who called sells her products in a small store close to Max’s and wants to sell online as well. She said that she likes Max’s online store because it looks clean, neat and well organised.
I had to tell her that I am not a web designer and that the graphic designer I ‘usually work with’ is overseas.
However, Max’s online store doesn’t have a customised design anyway. I picked Max’s store front design from a selection of free templates which was part of the ecommerce hosting package. I customised it with photos and neat copy writing, a map for the contact form and so on.
A decent selection of neat design templates were one of the selection criteria when I chose the ecommerce host. Max didn’t want to spend a cent on the storefront design, and I don’t want to spend my time on an ugly online store that screams ‘We Are Unprofessional!’ to the visitors. The template was a decent compromise.
So I told the lady that if she is happy with a template design, I can help her set it up and we agreed on a time to have a chat about it.
Yay! Does that mean I’ve got a new project? I am cautiously optimistic and trying to work out what to do.
I think I’ll try this way:
Preliminary plan for new online store project
1. Analyse the customer’s existing website . List what is wrong with it and how it should be done instead. Outline what I will do: overall structure, pages, copy writing, required photos and payment function.
2. Brush up research of e-commerce hosting offers – packages/features, hosting prices and quality of included free templates. Avoid giving away any names or specifics before there is a contract agreement – just give a cost range and feature examples so she gets an idea whether she wants to go ahead.
3. Provide an offer for my service.
That’s the nerve wrecking part. I hate to quote. If I’m not cheap, then she won’t hire me – my gut feeling tells me that based on small signals, for example:
- The look of her current website and packaging (I have seen a product sample) shows that she has not prioritised spending on visual communication so far
- The product type – import from China. The products are a smart idea and they sell very well in her shop (according to Max), but they aren’t expensive. It isn’t a product that allows to charge a premium price, because once other get the same idea and start importing it as well, they’d be able to source it relatively cheap in China, too
- Her accent sounds slightly Chinese. Chinese traders tend to be hard bargainers
- Shop location – surrounded by other small shops that sell cheap imported stuff
However, if I am too cheap, then she’l still expect me to help and provide answers whenever she needs it regardless of how little she paid. She will be unhappy if I say ‘no, I don’t want to spend any more time on this because I’ve already spent heaps of time and made little/no money’. An unhappy customer is a problem regardless how little she paid for the service and whether it is ‘fair’ to be unhappy.
I guess that learning to provide a professional service is very much about learning to quote.
**Spy-like project code name to emphasise the incognito nature of this blog. All project details are altered or omitted to ensure anonymity.
Read more: Journaling Project Daisy.