My second job in web development was with a full print and digital agency in 1998. This was fairly common as the web was getting started. Print houses would have their “web guy.” The company that I worked for was one of the first agencies in San Diego that started to reduce print and focus more and more on digital. We had an awesome in-house graphic designer that we would work with for some of the more traditional print jobs. It was a really great time to be in web development and where we started to welcome new clients to the website club.
A tradition that my boss started was to throw a launch party for every website we built. This wasn’t as big as it sounds, it was usually some appetizers, a bottle of champagne and a framed print out of their site that we presented the client with. What came out of that was something magical. It was a great physical action to signifing the end of their project and welcoming them to the online business world. It really seemed to sum things up, created closure and celebrated new beginings. Clients loved it. There was a real sense of pride and accomplishment by everyone involved.
This typically doesn’t happen anymore. Most of the time we are rushed to get the project done, up and live. I think part of the reason is that websites are never really finished. Once their live, it’s sort of on to phase two. We’ve got caught up in the “on to the next thing” mentality and there have been casualties along the way. Another reason is that we are more distributed now. I have clients all over the U.S. and some that I have never even seen before. It’s a little more inconvenient to fly out to each client and take them out for a drink. So, what do we do instead? How do we create a sense of closure of one phase of a website project and move on to another, over a long distance, online?
I’m a big fan of process. So, when I think of new ideas, I often think, how do I merge this into my workflow? What I came up with was to send my clients a launch letter accompanied by a gift card to a restaurant in their area. Clients seem to like this. It’s a great way to say, “Thank you for your business and we wish you success with your new business!” For the business, this is the coming out party, their Quinceañera. They now have a seat at the grown up table. They are now a peer.
We sometimes take building websites for granted, but to our clients it’s magic. It’s a big deal. Many don’t understand all the details and some never will, but they do know that it’s important and it’s our job to show them how important. They are diving into uncharted territory and we are their guides. Let’s make their experience positive and something to remember.