The worst thing about computers is that they do exactly what you tell them to.
The life of a web developer is full of little gotcha moments where you realize that, through errant keystroke or lack of coffee, you’ve told the computer to do the wrong thing. These sorts of typos are quickly fixed, usually no more than minor annoyances.
The big trouble comes when you think you’ve been telling the computer to do the right thing, but then it turns out your whole concept of “the right thing” has been off this whole time, and so it’s back to the drawing board to draft a new set of instructions.
Wouldn’t it be nice if our computers just did what we needed them to instead of what we told them to? What if you could trust your consultants to do the same?
At Dotcomjungle, we take pride in our history of doing just that. We work best when we’re allowed to do more than just build to spec.
Here are some of the questions we consider when discovering the project with a prospective client:
- What problem is the project solving?
- What assumptions are we all making about how this will work?
- How can we measure the project’s success?
Really, our first, free deliverable on any project is a deeper understanding of its scope and goals.
Most of this comes down to knowing the right questions to ask people in order for them to figure out the necessary details.
This relates to another slice of web developer life, a technique known as Rubber Duck Debugging. When things aren’t doing what they’re supposed to, it helps to explain one’s code out loud to someone else, or even an inanimate object such as a rubber duck. This action has a habit of spurring greater insight into the problem just when the explainer is starting to feel silly about talking to a bath toy.
In some ways this is similar to what happens when inquisitive consultants come into an existing workflow and people start explaining how it works, how it should work, and any gaps between those two things. We love asking just the right question, to just the right person, at just the right time, and seeing it spark a dramatic shift in a client’s mindset.
Here’s an example – One client came to us asking for help with external SEO. The firm they were working with was generating multi-page spreadsheets each month filled with data, but the client hadn’t seen any increase in revenue.
We dug a bit deeper, asked some open-ended questions, and discovered a few things:
- Content on their web app was difficult to update, so they built landing pages on an external site and linked to the web app’s checkout from there.
- The external site was made with a WYSIWYG website builder, so it lacked some key functionality.
- The previous SEO firm focused on building backlinks by way of Reddit, Twitter, and other social media posts. In many cases they were linking to the store site, not the landing pages.
What was originally an SEO consultation became a new website and PPC strategy. We built them a WordPress site for easy content marketing, advised on SEO-friendly content structuring, and updated their Google Analytics implementation to provide better cross-site tracking.