By Joshua Lucas

Issue # 10

Wednesday, May 13, 1998


I have been lucky in my experience with the Web. Within the last couple of years I have lived in both Los Angeles and Boston--two of the most "wired" places around. I sometimes forget that the rest of the country does not always have the same luxury as I do when it comes to having companies around that can do web site design. Because of this, I wanted to offer some possibilities for those who will be forced to work with a company that is not right around the corner.

Dealing with a company via e-mail or the phone might not be your first choice but it does not mean that the site being designed will not be successful. If after researching your local area, you can't find any companies which you would feel comfortable with in designing your web site, then it is time to begin to look for someone else who can do the job, no matter where they are located.

Initially, to find someone, use the same steps we talked about last week, except this time expand your search to include other parts of the country. Places which might be considered hot spots would include most of the larger cities in the United States and Canada.

Just as you checked out the clients of the local companies, look at the ones from these as well. It is even more important that you feel confident in the reputation and history of the design company if you are going to deal with them without much face-to-face contact.

Besides searching via a search engine, look again at your competition and see where their site was designed. This might give you some clues as to more companies that would be able to do the job.

After finding someone and making contact, pay close attention to the discussions at the beginning. A company should go out of its way to make you feel comfortable in dealing with the out-of-town relationship.

Listen to their ideas on how they can make this work for you. If you feel at ease and like what you hear, don't let the distance hold you back! A successful relationship can definitely be a win-win situation because it gives you practical experience in dealing in with a business relationship on the Internet before your reputation is on the line. A good firm will help you "get used" to working with e-mail, and working "virtually", all of which is a crucial part of a successful web business.

"Lucas, Joshua Lucas". . .writes for a living. By day he writes software, and by night he weaves words. Josh has coded in Java, C, C++, and Perl for some of the hippest and most recognizable companies in the US, including The Gap, Starbucks, Nike, and Nordstroms. Josh's rich experience, coupled with his diligent daily research, places him as close to the "cutting edge" as you can get without falling off. He and his wife recently moved from Los Angeles, CA to Boston, MA.

If you have decided you need to work with someone who isn't local, what steps have you taken to prepare for this communication? Can you set out certain times to contact them throughout the week or will it need to be flexible? Try to answer these questions before your first meeting. And don't forget to keep sending me topics you'd like to learn more about!

As the discussion becomes more and more technical, keep a copy of all communication between you and the design company. This is not to show distrust but to make sure that there are not any miscommunications and that all of the work expected to be done is done. Keep track of phone calls as well. It might not be a bad idea to have a log of when the call took place and the overall purpose of the call. Don't be afraid to ask for status e-mails or calls. It would be best to decide on those before the job starts so as to avoid any suspicions as to your looking over their shoulder.

These suggestions should help you as you deal with a "virtual" relationship with a design company. The key is to stay in close communication without "smothering" the designers. . .which will also cost both sides more in lost wages, anyway.

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