How to Present the Business Benefits of Web Standards

Here’s a conversation I had with a client last week.

If you’re in the business of building websites, I’m pretty sure you’ve had this sorta conversation before:

Client: How long is the website going to take to load?

Me: Don’t worry; it’ll load real quick.

Client: What assurance will I have that it will load quickly?

Me: You have my word that it’s going to be built so that it will load faster, work better across different Internet browsers and turn up on search engines a lot easier than websites that a lot of other agencies are building for their clients.

Client: How come?

Me: We’re going to build your website according to Web Standards.

Client: -_-

And that, to paraphrase Agent Smith, is the moment of inevitability.

The thousand-yard stare that inevitably ensues the minute you mention something like Web Standards.

Not many people outside of the Web know anything about it, which is depressing considering how much people have written and discussed about it, but that’s just how it is.

So, there you are, about to launch into an inspiring speech about Web Standards, all psyched up about why you should separate content from presentation, all excited about explaining what beautiful code is, and this my friends, is when you shut the fuck up and think, very carefully, about what you’re going to say next.

Because, if you’re not careful, you’re going to end up sounding like a technology-obsessed geek. Clients want to know how you’re going to meet their expectations and how soon you’re going to show them some visuals. That’s basically it.

People generally don’t want to know about the details. Unless, of course, your client is Google.

So, what did I do?

Thanks to Boagworld, I sent my client a short e-mail explaining what Web Standards is and told him to check out a Podcast about the business benefits of web standards.

Download it, and educate your clients!

If you’re looking for another reference, you can also check out Definition Design’s page.

So, what happened to our conversation?

Well, I haven’t had any further questions from my client on the topic of how long it will take for his website to load.

Or any other topics about web design, for that matter.

Well, not for the past few days, at least. =P

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Filed under Accessibility, Advertising, Design, Development, Usability, Web

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