265 – Have we set the right expectation? – Series 1 / Episode 5

‘WordPress Business Bootcamp’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley


Welcome to another in our Business Bootcamp series. It’s the series where we relearn everything we know about building WordPress sites, and running a web design business from start to finish.

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Presently, we are on Season 01 (where we look at what needs to happen) before the build. Have we set the right expectation?

Nathan and David are taking different routes to get our invented businesses going and our client’s website up.

Nathan:  Going traditional with fixed pricing. He has presented his proposal and contract.

David:  Going agile. Fixed fee for a sprint of work. His proposal is nothing formal; he is expecting the client to go with the idea of a minimal viable website (or even landing page). Low risk to the client with the plan to book further sprints to improve on it iteratively.

Episode 5.  Have we set the right expectation?

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This is really about the working relationship and processes.

Episode intro: The Problem

  • A proposal and contracts set out what is to be delivered and by whom, but is unlikely to give an insight into what to expect.
  • David’s agile approach is all about diving in.
  • There are some common areas of fiction that maybe we could get ahead of?

Potential areas of friction

How hands on do they want to be?

Some are more precious over their sites than others and some change during the process.

Most of the trouble comes because clients have no reason to expect anything but a fixed cost.

If not careful you have a client with a form of cognitive dissonance, that is not easy to reconcile. It creates a real problem for the project.


As we are recording this I am about to put out a video post (https://simplerevolutions.design/) on pricing with an agile mindset. It really is about offering both an agile and traditional route in a way that allows the clients to change and not lose face.

He’s working next on a process that he will follow that clients can dip into and contribute usefully to. Clients get involved in productively doing rather than undoing what has been done.

Content gathering

  • Hardly a day passes without people complaining about this!
  • There are various tools to automate the process and even services set up to support this? Content Snare.
  • Is this more of an issue for the traditional approach as it is set up to be us and them?
  • Agile, in theory, should be able to teamwork it. The problem is a shared one and as they are paying for the time the late delivery is likely to be for genuine reasons?

For David, poor content is far worse than late content.

As copy is probably going to be the singularly most important factor in both getting traffic and conversion I would rather structure it with a client to tell “the story”. Structure it to be written the way visitors read it.

Do clients have the expertise to write web copy? Unlikely. Neither do either of us, but we understand the theory and can spot useful things clients say that they probably would not think to write.

Somethings can’t be avoided. Perhaps the client sends a 100px image of them, and you are waiting for some that fits the 800px slot!

All this is to be expected, it is better to devise work arounds. One of David’s is that they have a page builder and can insert it on their own (if concerned about the budget).

Also, David plans to work with the tools they use rather than try to teach them how to use his systems.

Forms of communication.

Do we ask them about how they like to digest content?

Do we establish a line of commend (Agile scrum teams have the Product Manager)?

This podcast pretty much runs on Google docs. Is this a good way to collaborate with clients when it comes to copy and website structure for our lawyers site?

As for (outgoing) communication, is a screencast in an email with the bullet point questions best?

Can we set the tone for incoming feedback?

Revisions / changes of mind

Contracts may limit these, but revisions are not created equally. It’s better now but changing something in the header or the footer was more complex than client could imagine.

  • We all know: https://theoatmeal.com/comics/design_hell – can we avoid it?
  • We can reduce it by working out the expectation and knowing that clients don’t know what they want but what they don’t want when they see it!

Ghosting/off the radar/delays

This happens to this day. David’s have become calmer about it as there is usually a good reason and getting snotty does not help. He now pays more attention to their work and home situation.

  • Can we set it up so we can continue without them? Mostly yes, the annoying ones have been sorting out DNS when there is a 3rd party.
  • How do we flag up that progress is too slow?

Final Points

Good relationships are probably key to all our businesses, and can get stretched easily when something is personal, as a website can be. The more of a human touch that can be added at the early stages of a project, the better the whole thing goes.

It is important to appreciate the client, not just concentrate on delivering a product that works well for visitors.

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your host, David Waumsley and Nathan Wrigley.

Hello there and welcome to episode number 265 of the WP Builds podcast. This episode is entitled... have we set the right expectation? It was published on Thursday, the 10th of February, 2022. My name's Nathan Wrigley. Just a few short bits of housekeeping before we begin. If you enjoy the content that WP builds produces, I would very much like it. If you felt able to share that around the internet, whichever way works for you, but some examples might be, go and give us a rating on apple podcast.

A five star rating would be very nice. Alternatively, just tweet a message at WP builds. All of those things would be really nice. Of course. I leave it up to you, how you wish to do it and where you wish to do it. But just to say that it would be really nice and it does help the podcast to grow.

Another thing you can do is head over to our subscribe page. That way we'll be able to keep you updated as, and when we produce new content, we've got our, this week in WordPress show every Monday, which then comes out on a Tuesday, it's live. Then we've got the podcast, which you're listening to now.

And we're also doing the monthly you, our UX show with peach and nary. You can find more about [email protected]. And the subscribe page, WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe. Okay. What have we got on the podcast today? It's David and I we're still in series one, but we're now on episode five of our WP business boot camp. And this episode is all about setting the right expectation.

So as well, describing the episode, we're dealing with a well, a new client, somebody that we've never worked with before. And in fact, we have never really done this work before. And so we're diving into all of the different things that we need to do in order to set our business up. And one of those things is client communications.

How do we work with clients? How do we establish a relationship? How do we let them know what it is that they're going to be dealing with? Perhaps they've never had a website build before, and it's pretty much unlike anything else that you might purchase. So how hands-on do you want them to be? What kind of things do you want them to give you? How are you going to gather the content? What forms of communication are you going to use? How are you going to do revisions and all of those kinds of things? It's a really interesting episode.

And I hope that you enjoy it.

[00:02:49] David Wamsley: Welcome to another in our business boot camp series, it's the series where we relearn everything we know about building WordPress sites and running a web design business from start to finish presently, we are on season one where we're looking at what needs to happen before a build. And we are on episode five where we are setting the right expectations or working out how we do that.

Nathan we are on different routes. With our invented businesses and trying to get our client's website up. So shall we just recap where we are up to in the process so

[00:03:25] Nathan Wrigley: far? Yeah. Okay. We are, we're working from the basis that we are brand new to the web development industry. We've perhaps dabbled in creating things for ourself and maybe who knows we've done something on a profit basis for somebody else, but we've been reached out by two, two.

Somebody reached out to us and they said we'd like a website. And all that we know about them is that they are called Ms. A and they are a lawyer above and beyond that, we're trying to figure everything out as we go. And in the previous episodes, it worked out that David and I. Kind of going off in different directions.

He can tell you about his at the moment, but mine might be described as the more traditional approach where I'm doing things like sending out a contract at the beginning, I'm offering a fixed price for a fixed websites and so on. You might describe it as the waterfall process, but essentially a lot of work is done upfront and then the client and I sort of part ways for awhile, I do lots of building and then come back.

There it is. What do you think of it? So that's my approach, whereas yours is totally.

[00:04:31] David Wamsley: Yeah, and we're at the same point here. So you've put in your proposal and the contract, and it's been Misael has gone with you, but she's Schrodinger's cat. She's also gone with me at the same time. And I'll go the agile route, which is it's a fixed fee for a sprint of work, but the number of sprints is really up to the client so they can control the budget.

The proposal is nothing formal and. I'm expected or at least I'm selling to the client. The idea that they'll put out a minimum viable website, even a landing page, and we'll move through this through sprints of work and improve it iteratively. So that's the idea with it. It's an ongoing process where we'll just start with the least cost and keep them.

[00:05:18] Nathan Wrigley: Okay. So have occurred to me that may be, as the series goes on the differences between the two approaches will become more and more obvious, but right at the outset, they are different models. And I've never really done your model simply because I didn't really know it existed. So as these episodes go on, I have to confess that I'm more and more curious about what it is that your approach is.

[00:05:44] David Wamsley: Yeah I'm still learning. This is really what we're doing here. I didn't realize there was such a thing as agile or understand it like I do now. And the more we were just talking earlier and really in some ways, I just think, even though you've always done a traditional approach, I think a lot of your thinking is agile.

Anyway, the way that you deal with clients, and this is what we're moving on to with this one now will be set in the right expectations because. Yeah, we've set the proposal and you have the contract, but that really doesn't tell us anything about how the working relationship and the process is to build in that site will run.

And there's obviously some little areas where we can end up with some problems. There's some well-known areas where. Points of friction isn't there. Yeah. And it's

[00:06:29] Nathan Wrigley: Build, what's really interesting about this is that those points of friction, I think had to be discovered by me. I did not, I didn't read any literature, which for warned me about them.

It was just a pitfall that I fell into and then got out of that one. And then fell into another pitfall and then slowly over time built up a, more of a protective layer really. Oh, I don't want it. I don't want that to happen again. And I don't want that to happen again, but there are loads of things that can go wrong.

And if you're new to this industry and you've never done it before, there's a lot that you need to insulate yourself from and setting those expectations right at the outset is a huge thing to get. And will ultimately, I think save you a lot of time heartache and probably.

[00:07:13] David Wamsley: Yeah. And I think the first title we've got on our notes here is how hands-on do they want to be?

And for me, that's becoming a big thing. Most of us are now working with page builders. We give them the option to be able to update the content later, perhaps. It could still be working on the site while we are running it, which is something which is the way I'm moving much more towards.

So I think I never really asked much about this. In fact, I still haven't, I haven't really asked much about what the site we're making, how precious this might be to them. How. How important the look of it is, or are they the type of person who just look, I'm just at it to you, you get on with it and that's it.

And they're going to stick to that. Yeah.

[00:07:59] Nathan Wrigley: I think there are four sides to this coin, right? You have to justify that. I think there's two sides to my coin. In other words, I think my personality plays into this quite a lot. In other words, If I am really outgoing, very confident speaking to strangers, very confident pushing forward my ideas and saying why this is the right thing and why this is the way that we're going to do it, all of that factors into it.

But also could also be. I could be the opposite of that. I could be the kind of person that just likes to work on my own, like to be told what to do by a client, get on with it and then just present it back to them. So that's two sides of the four-sided going. And the other two sides are from the client.

It depends what their personality type is like. And again, I don't wish to boil it down to personality type, but broadly, this is what I'm meaning. But they may be very outgoing, gregarious, prepared to talk to you, prepared to work with you. Alternatively, they may be really hands off, nothing to do with personal after they literally might've been given the job, get the website built for the firm.

It's up to you. You've got six weeks go and they may not wish to be involved with it because they've got their own case load of work. They, so you can see where I'm going. It depends on what I'm like and what I like to, how I like to work and what they're like and how they like.

[00:09:21] David Wamsley: Yeah. And I think, emotions come in toward this process, which often underplayed because, particularly with the proposals and contracts, it's about this business negotiation to build this site.

But when we're actually building it, trying to establish whose feet are going to get trodden on in this is quite tricky because it's very emotional and. And we are so trying to get some insight to how precious the site is going to be to the client, because we were talking earlier and you picked up on what I said, which is a PTs, the fact that if I'm given the job of getting on with it, so they say to me, you're the expert, you do it and you get on with it.

And I build what I think is this great site I've swept over it. And they don't like it at the end. My feelings are going to be hurt with it. It's going to be precious to me. I've invested in it. And I think these are all the things that can go wrong and in reverse as well, where the. Maybe not at first because they perhaps even not prepared.

I think this is a key thing. They're not prepared for how the creative process may not be like the usual plan, business process, things change. And it's a good thing that they also. It's become precious to them. It's about them, their website. And I think all of these things are stuff that we have to be aware of.

Cause they just crave creep up all the time. You only need to read something like the clients from hell blog to read all of the stuff that goes wrong and how crazy it sometimes can get.

[00:10:51] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. I genuinely hadn't distilled this thought until we chatted about half an hour ago. The notion. A out if I've done all the works, let's say, basically they've said go off, do it.

I am totally building that. And it becomes part of me. And at the point where I hand it over, if they don't like something genuinely you feeling. Yeah. What the heck? This is brilliant. Have you got the pair of eyes? Look at it. And I never really made that connection that I was invested in the more hours that I spent on it, the more it became a part of what I wanted and what I liked and not necessarily what they liked and.

And unequally, if you throw them in the mix over and over again with your agile model, the more likely those, their desires and your desires are going to be combined. And just so many instances where I'm looking back into my past and thinking why did I feel annoyed at the end of the day when the client had said, no, we need to really iterate on this and go back and make some amendments.

And it probably was for that very reason, I thought it was the. For them. And I was.

[00:12:07] David Wamsley: Yeah, and I think you can get hideous compromise as well, because if the client really doesn't like it, and then they decide that they're going to iterate on it with you slowly not to try and not tread on your toes, but they really are.

Then everybody's this is stupid gain go. Now I too, I have us working theory, which I'm putting forward in kind of separate video about how that our process. Often businesslike in the beginning. Particularly with the traditional model, you have to set to the plan of what you expect to be delivered before the process starts.

And, they may have in their mind what they want, but through the process that they'll realize it's actually not true. And then they end up with. Cognitive dissonance where, what they really believe in isn't with their behavior. They believe that the plan they're good at planning and that's what should carry on, but they actually want something different.

And then that's why I think it all goes a little bit crazy with stuff because the honesty goes, so I'm big fan on the agile, if it could be made to work in the sense that in theory, when you're. You are working with the person. So you have to find a system where you work as a team to put the whole thing together.

So everyone has a role. So there isn't a period where there is, I've done this so much and now I want your feedback. They are literally involved. The building of it. So their time is put to use not to undoing stuff, but actually towards doing it. Yeah. So that's my way, but I think it's almost a bit of the psychology in there.

I just think if you can hit, I'm not saying it's an easy thing to do, but if you can find a system where they can be involved, It as they go along then, that's probably their ideal because you are working together and not treading on each other's toes. Yeah.

[00:14:01] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. The model that I've always used is non-agile model.

And I have to say in, in most cases, it's it really has worked pretty well for me. I've managed to get from them what I need and we'll. Content gathering. And just a moment, I don't mean content. Just the idea. We've created a website in our heads and it would appear that we've aligned. And then I go off and I spend X amount of weeks doing it.

And mostly on the whole, I hit the target and there's a few things that we might discuss about that. But it does work, but it does require. Backend work. You've got to spend a lot of time deciding iterating on the design wire framing and deciding on brand assets and getting a decision made on logos.

And who are you going to communicate with and all of those kinds of things, but it does work. There is a process that can work. I think you've just got to be a little bit more disciplined. At the beginning in terms of setting up all of the bits and pieces that need to be in place. And then also you need to be fairly disciplined when you're actually building it, making sure that you stick to and keep to the research that you did.

There's no point in asking them a thousand questions and then just getting on and building what you like and ignoring what they requested. So it does work. And on the whole, for me, it worked.

[00:15:22] David Wamsley: Yeah. Know, I think the ideal scenario is that they just trust you to do it and go away, but,

[00:15:29] Nathan Wrigley: and then

[00:15:30] David Wamsley: maybe not, but maybe not, the more invested they are in a project, then the more likely hood I think is that they'll live, invest more in the medium and the long term future.

So that can present us with more work. So swings and roundabouts. I think

[00:15:48] Nathan Wrigley: both of us have been in. Threads in the past where we've encountered people like you and I, who build websites who have gotten to the point where they're really terribly upset with the clients and justifiably.

So I'm sure in some cases the client genuinely has misbehaved or is being negligent. Really reneging on what it is they agreed, but I think also some of those conversations really do go back to not listening and not talking to each other and not not making sure that you're on the same page and communicating.

So this idea of this client from hell, I'm sure it's true, but equally. I think sometimes we have to question whether or not we are the website builder from Helen where, they're getting off the phone and saying, ah, I'll never work with them again. They just never listen. They don't communicate well.

They're asking me for all these things and I have no idea how to give it to them. They just haven't explained anything clearly enough. Maybe we need to be cognizant of.

[00:16:51] David Wamsley: Yeah, absolutely. I think we can all end up in situation. And what we do is we argue with logic when really what we're feeling is a kind of a emotional it's really about how precious I think these things end up becoming towards yes.

And yeah, as we get a bit mature, Over the time and I've cocked up with plenty of clients, on that. I get a bit precious, but I think I've, after all these years, I started to work out what's going on with me. Yeah.

[00:17:20] Nathan Wrigley: It's interesting because sometimes you're genuinely, and I don't mean you. One genuinely knows that what they want is inferior to what you wish to do.

And I'm always caught by that. Usually in the end for the winter, of a quieter life. I normally demure to what they want and just explain, look, we could do this. I think this would be better, but if you insist upon doing that well, it's your website. I shall do it your way. But I think I'm happy to carry that if the client insists upon.

[00:17:58] David Wamsley: Yeah. Yeah. So should we talk about the next one, which is the content gathering, which the interesting thing for me is the traditional model with this one. You sign your contract. Usually that's got something about, they need to provide the con the content to you. And that's usually the first thing that needs to happen on the project.

And that's where the biggest failure seems to be in the

[00:18:20] Nathan Wrigley: whole process. I would like to hold my hand up at this point and say, are you. Do not think there is a perfect solution for this. I never found it. I tried every. Really? I tried everything that it was in my power to try, Google drive Dropbox, all sorts of SAS related apps that purported to fix this problem.

And every solution that I had met. Met with failure. At some point it might have been real bad failure. And the, really nothing came my way or it might've just been the occasional failure, but there was no perfect system. So I think this one, if you're new to doing websites, you are guaranteed to have this problem in it.

And the problem is simply this. In order to build a website and to get it to a point of being finished, there is a boatload of stuff that you're going to need from the client. Be that copy, be that logos, be that images or videos. There's just things that you're going to need from them. And you will not get all of it immediately and you will not get all of it in the perfect format.

That's easy for you to understand. And again, I think the problem really goes back to communication, right at the beginning, working out with the. Okay. What is the system that works best for you and what is the system that works best for me? Is there some sort of happy ground where we both meet?

Oh, we're both adept with Google drive. Brilliant. We'll both use Google drive or the client says I've never heard of Google drive, but I'm pretty good at writing email. Okay. Maybe that's the way we need to go. I genuinely don't have an answer to, they say always for.

[00:20:02] David Wamsley: Yeah, I think you've really made the point there about you got to play to their strengths.

I haven't used to what they're familiar with and the higher, the level is there, the better, if all they can manage is to stick stuff in an email, then probably it's going to be easier to cope with that and deal with it. Our end. At least, we are fairly proficient at that stuff rather than have to try and train the client to do, to learn a new tool.

So I think, yeah, it's you can't, it's one of my favorite expressions all the time for this kind of stuff. You can't bang square pegs into round holes, and that's what you end up doing when you set a system, they must follow.

[00:20:45] Nathan Wrigley: Sorry. Sorry. I interrupted you. Carry on.

[00:20:47] David Wamsley: No, that's fine. That's

[00:20:48] Nathan Wrigley: all I needed to say.

I was simply going to say that I wonder how much time has been wasted by both of us trying to coach. Into something that ultimately wasn't optimal, how many hours have you spent trying to tell people how to use Google drive or Dropbox, or set up a Dropbox folder and tell them, okay, we're going to name all of the folders in this manner and they never do it.

And, whereas if you'd gone to them and said, okay, if I want these things, How would you best do it? I'm not saying that's the perfect way. I'm just saying I never really tried that conversation. And so that would be something that I probably ought to.

[00:21:32] David Wamsley: Yeah, me too. And that's where I think having to had a lot more of that, to just be aware of that and, keeping it as simple as possible is my big thing at the moment.

Whatever we'll achieve the job where previously, I think, you used to get excited about the idea that your business would look. Professional, all the time. And that would lead you, that kind of entrepreneurial sort of spirit to wander building great systems that are really impressive.

[00:22:00] Nathan Wrigley: But do you know, I think you've just said something absolutely brilliant that you wanted to look professional and that, that was the mantra. You wanted it to look. W inside this formula of what professional is. And I wouldn't, I couldn't care less as a consumer. Let's say I go to a, I don't know, a lawyer and I wish to use lawyers services.

I couldn't care less how professional life looked if I was confused and had no idea. Where we were, how to give them the things that I needed. I would far rather a lawyer who, looked in inverted, commerce, less professional, but I could get along with and understand all of the steps along the process.

So really throw, looking professional out the window a bit for the sake of being professional and getting the things off them that.

[00:22:54] David Wamsley: Yeah, I think you've nailed it there. And it's about those. In the end of the day, when we start working together in some form or another, it's a collaboration and that relies on a relationship and that relationship's gotta be good.

It's about our own egos, isn't it looking professional.

[00:23:09] Nathan Wrigley: And again, getting back to the sort of Facebook groups, this does appear to be the. Where everything can fall apart. The content gathering bit seems to be the thing that can crack the egg wide open. And I D I don't quite know why it causes so much, so many problems.

Like I said, it's never ultimately been an absolute killer for me, but it feels like from some of the threads that I've read in the past, that it really can kill people. So if you're new to this is something really worthy of thinking about possibly more than. Anything. I think that we've mentioned so far, this is huge.

Figure out a way that you're going to get content off your clients. And maybe that way is going to be different for each of the clients. Maybe forcing your way on them is ultimately going to be a cause of friction and falling.

[00:24:01] David Wamsley: But my mistake is going to have a wonderful experience compared to yours, because I'm going to go into a little bit just on the agile stuff, because in the theory, if you can make it work, I'm not saying this is easy.

The content stuff is teamwork. There is something I think that's quite important with the. With the content you're trying to get. So for me, the worst thing that can happen is not delaying getting the content, but being given poor content, which I'm going to have to say, this is too rubbish to use.

So I'd much rather build it up from the start. So if we want to get good leads, we need good copy. If they haven't got a good copywriter, let's build it up from the beginning. Knowing what I know about how you might lay this out to tell a story. On a homepage or a landing page. It, from an agile perspective, in theory, we end up being a team problem.

And if it was delayed, which is often the issue, isn't it about? Is this holding back the project and costing more money? It's Omni under that teamwork is spirit. It's only going to be delayed if genuinely the client is just us to have a problem with the content and needs work on it. So

[00:25:14] Nathan Wrigley: how are you willing in your model to step in?

Cause I know your agile model, isn't just. Being responsive and N not reaching too far into the future and having everything under some kind of proposal based formula, but are you willing to step in and say, do you know. You haven't given me the images. It looks like you're struggling to get images that you're happy with.

I'm just going to put something in for you for now. And the same thing with copy. I'll throw something together. It's not optimal. I'd like you to change it in the future. Are you going to be willing to bridge that gap or are you going to just put Laura min and put some sort of gray overlaid image in just to indicate there should be in.

[00:26:01] David Wamsley: Yeah last, that was the way before. Okay. So I got two routes. I can't call these agile. So previously I used to think, how am I going to get this jobs done? When I was thinking this is a one day build, which is how I used to look earlier, we can get something up. So I go, if they're absent and I've got nothing, I'm going to stick an image in that I think will work.

I'm going to stick the copy in and stick some lawn Epson. And I've given them a page builder. And there's a video on how you can change it to what. I've done my job. Thank you very much. What I'm moving towards now is the more agile approach where I'm going to say, actually, and this is what we'll, I think we'll talk about in the next series.

Some of this I hope to get forward is where I might be able to condense some of the great ideas about laying out pages that come from things like story brand that come from copy hackers to lay out the structure and work with the client themselves. And even if I'm doing it on their own, because they're absent, they will see I'll.

I will have demystified the. The process of getting that content structured, if you like. So if they want to join in and offer their opinions, they can, and we'll be doing it together. If not. So that's where I want to go. But this is all stuff to be worked out, but that's why I think I should be.

With a team spirit agile approach it from adopted that's where I think I need to be able to demystify all of the stages of putting this together so they can be involved because their opinion will be valid.

[00:27:27] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. A couple of things on that. The first thing is I think. If you went that extra mile and could some in some way communicate that you'd actually fill in the blanks for them.

I think that could be something that the client thinks. Oh, great. That's brilliant. Oh, thanks for doing that. You might get a pat on the back. Kudos for that. The flip side of that though, is I wonder if you're setting an expectation, which then you've got to live up for it's all right, David we'll do it.

I haven't bothered looking for an image. David will do it. So I guess that's got to say.

[00:28:02] David Wamsley: It has, but the agile protects me, doesn't it? Because they're controlled in the budget and the time. So if they want me to carry on doing that, then that's fine. You're going to be paying me as the, I haven't got that deadline budget that the fixed too.

So that's the solution is there.

[00:28:17] Nathan Wrigley: That's nice anyway. Yeah, no solutions to content gathering, but some interesting ideas. And we're thinking about, if all that. Is raised the awareness that you are going to struggle with this. Then we've probably done our job. We won't have a solution, but we've alerted it to go and explore in all the manifest ways that you can.

How on earth you might gather content and try and work collaboratively

[00:28:42] David Wamsley: in the same vein. Our next title is palms of communication. Do we ask how they like to die? Content that we might give them or information how they want to talk to us during the whole process. And what

[00:28:57] Nathan Wrigley: are the options here then?

You've got like email, increasingly you've got things like chat apps, Facebook messenger, and WhatsApp and signal and all those kinds of things. You've got video chat, zoom, you've got videos that you could shoot with each other. Backwards and forwards things like this new zip message service or just shooting a loom video, those kinds of things.

Oh, and then of course my favorite one the one that I've always preferred is just the good old telephone. That for me is the ultimate. If you can get them on the phone or I guess. Wrap into that zoom call. That would be the same thing, but real time communication that, that I feel is the absolute ultimate, because you, it's just so much more easy to get things done.

I feel that I can get done in one minute. What it would take me 20 minutes to do well.

[00:29:53] David Wamsley: Yes. Yes, that's true. Think the agile way is definitely more about the live communication working as a team anyway, but whether you can actually do that is another thing. I just think I've become more aware or is something to start. Asking them a bit, because one thing that, for communication going out, so when I'm working on my own, then I think the best way is for me to do a screen cast of where I'm up to, what considerations there are for them, where I need some answers.

And then I put that in an email with some bullet point questions of which they can just return with answers on. And I, I've been pleased as punch with what I've come up with. And it seems to work well but the thing is, I've never have asked a client if that's how. The best digest that communication?

[00:30:40] Nathan Wrigley: No, me neither never said, which is. The best way of communicating with, never really thought to do that. Always just assumed that their best way of doing it was, videos, zoom phone, or what have you, but you've got some, around that you your little sprints are you shooting your summation video at the end of a sprint and saying, here's what I've done.

Here's where I've got to rather now comment on this and we can move on to the next bit. Are you, or are you doing on a daily basis? I was hoping to work.

[00:31:15] David Wamsley: I'm still working out the system. I'm going to do it. One, one thought that I had, which I, back to the simplest way of being able to communicate the technology that the client's going to be useful.

I was. Be used to it, but I think the way that we do this podcast, the way we've communicated all the way over these five years, plus as been through a flipping Google document where we just have some headlines and pick a color or something like that. And I have started working on it. One client, a couple of times I've put up a document, which is about what we're trying to do on this, with trying to get the message in on the home page or something.

And, to my surprise, they've quickly just jumped in there and realize what's working out in the same way that you and I do. I don't know if that's going to work for other clients, but I just thought this is so much easier than threads and emails where I get completely lost because we just, scrap what doesn't need to be there any longer.

It gets removed from the documents. So full on the

[00:32:18] Nathan Wrigley: communication. Is it just text them or are you throwing images in there or I don't even know if you can throw things like video or I don't know if you can, but are you putting all of those in as well, or is it just a text backwards and forth?

[00:32:33] David Wamsley: Yeah, all I was doing on that, to be honest, what I was doing is the new site that was doing, I said, this homepage, we need certain messages. So I was taking all that, the things I referenced before, so StoryBrand and copy hackers and literally laying out. We need, it needs to start with header with a description that backs up the main message you're trying to get there.

And then we'll be moving on to what problem you'll solve in moving on to some of the benefits and literally listed them writing down some of the bullet points and they're coming in. So we're building the structure of this home page and some of the copies. Together. Okay. Before it goes into the web.

It actually, that's not true. Cause I started some of the website and this is separate, but I'm just saying it's quite a nice little way of being able to backwards and forwards on, on some information. If I tried to do it through email, it wouldn't work because someone can imagine a Google document it's as long as it needs to be and you can put headers on it and make it clear.

Both is the copy for one section.

[00:33:35] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah, that's I guess the nice thing about the Google doc is that there's more or less nobody who isn't familiar with something like Google docs, just everybody's familiar with whether it be word or office 365 or something, I could see that working for me.

I never really did do it that way. Always relied more on email or my favorite thing phone, but the fact that you and I have, we've really done pretty well out of communicating through Google docs. And think that's a solid way to have a go at least anyway. Yeah. Nice. Nice.

[00:34:08] David Wamsley: What we have, we use it in the most simplest of way.

Yeah. I shared the Google document with our friend, Paula AC and suddenly got surprised to find that we've got messages coming in and seen about the comments he'd left. He really knew how to use his Google documents. Yes. If it had been me. Written by the side of it.

[00:34:28] Nathan Wrigley: That's right. Yeah. I guess the only I'm the only pitfall is that you obviously have to understand that some people may not wish to do it that way, but say that's a pretty neat tip.

Give it a go. Let's see if anybody tries it and wants to leave us a comment. Let us know.

[00:34:43] David Wamsley: Yeah. Do you have a do you have a, given the end vacation on the kind of tone of feedback or anything, what you expect

[00:34:51] Nathan Wrigley: of oh, you mean in terms of, oh yeah, go on. No, I'm not following your thread there. What do you mean.

[00:34:58] David Wamsley: Some people just communicate in and, with emails or something, they can be, sometimes they think they're being efficient, I think. But it did just come across as Bruce, they literally just sharp comments where you can't get any indication about what they feel about something.

They just literally run in it.

[00:35:18] Nathan Wrigley: So something along the lines of change. Say attachment, that's it that's

[00:35:23] David Wamsley: exactly.

[00:35:24] Nathan Wrigley: I probably would react to that actually, but I wouldn't let them know. I would probably see it as a kind of a failing on their part to not take the time to write. Dear Nathan, I have attached a new image, which I would prefer on the website.

You can find it in this email. Thank you so much for your time, blah, blah, blah. That's the way I would like to be treated, but if somebody literally writes me their replace logo, see attachment, I'd just get on with it, swallow that, but I can see how that would kill people. Yeah.

People really genuinely do have a different approach to that. Emails from friends who clearly are short on time and it is weird thinking we're friends. Why are you writing like that? I just don't react, I guess it's it's the key message there, but I don't set any expectations out in terms of any proposals or anything.

Sorry, any contracts as to the way we would like to be communicated with. Assume that people are going to make a best effort. And I've never written a reply saying, I'm sorry, I will not respond to this email until you rewrite it in a more polite manner.

[00:36:35] David Wamsley: And I think probably people take the lead from you, how you communicate.

Possibly that is it,

[00:36:42] Nathan Wrigley: one of the things that I was really getting into a little while ago, and I would say this is, and you mentioned that you were clearly doing it is the weekly summation video, just bang out an email on a Friday, literally one. Showing what you did during that week.

Obviously in my approach that, during that week, they probably haven't seen anything at all. Like as far as they're concerned, it's a black hole, unless they've taken the time to go and look at the staging site, which is freely available for them to see, by the way I do that. And and I just say, this week we've worked on the menus.

They now look like this, and if you hover over it, this happens and we've also. Got I don't know the map widget going and it looks like this and so on and so forth and take seconds. And it just gives them a little bit of a heads-up as to what's going on. And in my impression, those emails never get replied to, but they never get objected to either.

And I think you are just putting up a bit of a, yeah, you're protecting yourself in that you are illustrating what you've done during that week, but also I suspect most of them work. Looked at, but there was no call to action to reply. It was just, okay, this is where we're at. And it just seemed to make the road smoother and keep the communications channels.

[00:38:02] David Wamsley: Yeah. Almost segue beautifully into the next thing, which is the revisions of changes of mind and how you deal with them, because you were saying about something I didn't really appreciate until you told me earlier was the fact that they can see what you're doing if they want to go and have a peep.


[00:38:18] Nathan Wrigley: I don't know if this is everybody's approach. Never struck me as a weird thing to do, but I'm conscious that some people might think this is where I would simply put a sub domain of my, a website. So I don't know, test website.example.com. And then I would give that to them right at the beginning.

Because I never the notion that I don't want them to see what they're doing. And I think most of them probably didn't look at it that often, but there was definitely clients that did, because they would communicate to me unprompted, could we change? Oh, I dunno. The blue. And I would say, oh, okay.

Yeah, you've noticed that. Okay. That's fine. Yeah. What would you like instead? And that's that system I think works. There's just no, no hiding it. And it does, I guess it does make the revision process a little bit easier because they come in dribs and drabs rather than a boatload at the end because my process, but this is nothing new to anybody.

It's just two rounds of revisions. When I finish it, I handed it over. You got a first round revisions. I never put any language in my contracts around what that revision process looked like. So had they come back to me and said, it's all rubbish. We need to revise all of it. I don't know what I would have said at that point, but it never happened luckily.

And then after that round of revisions, so I do that. And then there's a final one and I make it pretty clear in the language. Look, whatever you tell me now to do. That's it. There's no more. Can we tweak it a bit after this? You've got to be very careful and thoughtful and mindful writer in full go to whatever lengths you need to be clear on this.

And after that we're done, it's actually very rare that I got to the second amendment. Usually the first round of amendments had it.

[00:40:09] David Wamsley: That's good. That is the thing we talk about revisions. You never allow a couple of them, but the depth of those revisions and how much work they might be. If somebody says, yeah, just one revision, we just need the shop page now.

And you suddenly realize your sites become e-commerce,

[00:40:26] Nathan Wrigley: sorry, just to clarify that a revision in my head and I, again, I don't think I spelled it. Is a change to something which exists. So it literally is, rev, it's true to the word revision, it's going over something which is already there.

It was never new things and anything that's new is totally out of scope. It's not happening.

[00:40:53] David Wamsley: Yeah. So revision to the whole project is that would be yes. Yeah. Yeah. No, that makes sense. I think most people would understand that, but there is some things, it's not such a problem. Now. I used to find when people used to want to change certain average, which put dynamic in WordPress, like headers and footers, that was much more complex than other things.

And they would have no clue as to which was going to take up more time. Why should they do it? Stuff on the page.

[00:41:21] Nathan Wrigley: No, that's totally true. Isn't it? Something's if you, I dunno if you just suddenly wanted a telephone icon in the menu in the past, that was a bit of a big deal. Not a big deal, but it wasn't like, like super quick.

Yeah. Whereas now with more modern themes that might be like milliseconds to do.

[00:41:41] David Wamsley: Yeah. There's that classic comic, which I think everybody knows the oatmeal.com comics. It's a design underscore hell. So you can find them for that URL, but it's yeah. You know how revisions lead to this, horrible nasty kind of look in sight.

I think that is always the problem, but we covered it in a way. I think a lot of it is about that being precious and about understanding. Accommodating each other in that process, isn't it, being aware of w how the client's going to feel, how important is going to be to them and picking up on that early and making the client aware as well.

If you're going to leave me with it with high expectations. I'm going to invest in it. So you're going to hurt my feelings if you don't check in and want to change it all at the end.

[00:42:33] Nathan Wrigley: So about your approaches that you don't get this sort of moment in time where you've just suddenly got these round revisions at the end, and you are hoping that everything is as it should be, and that the revision rounds are going to be small and insignificant your approach.

I presume. You could really almost regard your entire website build as a round of review.

[00:42:55] David Wamsley: Yeah, exactly. The idea is literally should be teamwork. It should be something that you build together. Honestly. Everyone's got their own disciplines, but you would think we're all professional enough that someone's not going to.

Somebody said to me once quite recently, about when I said about collaborative design, where client, why would anybody want to do that? You'll do the expert. You do that. You wouldn't do that with a mechanic fixing your car. And it's no, I wouldn't do it with a mechanic fixing my car because I wouldn't have the first clue to do what they're doing.

So I wouldn't do it. Yeah. And that's different for me working with a client I've got certain skills, which they will never happen. They will never attempt to do that, but it doesn't mean that they can't have a valley view when we're picking, as long as they understand the theory of a color palette, that they can't help with why they think that might be more suited to their target audience.

And in fact, they're probably better placed than me to know. What is best for that target audience. So they, their contributions are valuable. I think within that team working your

[00:44:02] Nathan Wrigley: your solution brings to mind that famous phrase, give them manifests in elite for a day, teach him how to fish and he'll fish forever kind of thing.

And to take that one step further, it's a bit like the mechanic bringing you in as he repairs something. And says, okay, now I'm going to do this and then I'm going to do that. And now I'm going to, and look we've fixed the problem. You can probably do that yourself now, can't you? Because you've watched and seen and been instructed.

It's possible. You probably could go away and do that thing. But it's not the model that I've ever used, but I can totally see why that would have value and yeah. But

[00:44:42] David Wamsley: in some ways, you can imagine it, you can imagine it in a band situation. You play guitar and the drum was there and the basis, but then if you're trying to put something together, you can go, why don't you just do this with the BA you can, you're not going to take over and play the bass for them.

You're not going to say how it's going to be best to put, but you might be able to give them a hint of how it might work with something same with the drumming, but you don't tread on each other's toes. Teamwork in to make something, that works together. And I think that's how an agile approach should work.

You don't necessarily, you don't take somebody else's instruments and do it. You recognize that they know better, but you might be able to give them an idea. Of which they can work with. Yeah. Yeah. I think this is I'm S I'm selling an agile here. What I

[00:45:28] Nathan Wrigley: did tell him, I'll tell you what, the more that this podcast goes on the war, I want to abandon my side, but there'll be no content.

So I'm going to stick to my guns are Joel's rubbish. Give it up, David. Okay. Next one is ghosting going off rate going off the radar, delaying.

[00:45:47] David Wamsley: Yeah. So another problem. It happens doesn't it's happening to me right now with two of my best clients disappeared. They have,

[00:45:56] Nathan Wrigley: when you say disappeared, just are you phoning them up?

Are you just emailing? And the emails are not getting responded to what level of disappearance are we dealing with here?

[00:46:07] David Wamsley: No, it's fine. They have responded one who I've been working on a project with I'm delighted that they are, they have disappeared because it's partly a result of the rebuild I did on this other site has given him a bit more work.

So the fact that he's now a bit too busy to get on with the new site we're doing is something that cheers me, no end. But they have replied and said are left to put it back, but it wasn't. Kind of plan was with it. So I've no problem. I'm a lot calmer. You are. You've always been calm on this on haven't you if people disappear, it's fine.

[00:46:44] Nathan Wrigley: I was always lucky enough to have another bit of work which needed doing so my approach was simply just to do the other bit of work and that approach never really. It's not to say that you don't send them the email or send them the phone call to say, look, we really do need this thing.

It is actually urgent, but I just say the contract said it as well. That if you delay, then it won't get finished, basically is what it says. I can't remember the exact language, but any delays that are not us, we'll push the deadline back. And I do make the point that I am. I am willing to undertake other work, which might further delay what it is that you're doing.

Cause you know, if I start on another piece of work and and I really get my head into it, I might be on that for another week or a week and a half or whatever. And I think everybody gets that to some degree. I feel quite lucky in that nobody ever really pushed back on that I did get on with other pieces of it.

And I just polite you send them the email saying, thank you for sending me the image. That's brilliant. We're just involved with a few other things now because of the delay and we'll get back to you at the beginning of the next week or whatever it was. So that was always my approach. And it was one night.

[00:47:56] David Wamsley: Yeah, that works for what you're doing. But sticking with the traditional model would even the antiviral one. When you think about it, a lot of people build in. The financial penalties. And with this one because the potential to go and take on another, if you're a big agency and you've put so much of your staff forward, then that delay in you can't take on your next work.

So they, somebody has to pay for that lost time. Yes. Yeah,

[00:48:24] Nathan Wrigley: that's that's a really good point. Never something that I needed to concern myself with, but do you, so moving into our jail and obviously everything that you've just said, are you going to do any of that? Are you going to financially penalize people or at least tell them that you're going to, or are you going to work more towards my laissez Faire?

[00:48:44] David Wamsley: Yeah, it's already laissez Faire because I've got to get out because there's no, technically there's no and cost. So of course, yeah. Oh, I see what you mean. If they disappear and then I can't take work well, because it's expensive works. I will. So in effect, I'm seeing if they do disappear, I might take another work, which means that like you effectively, it's the same thing.

Did we end up delayed on restarting their work, so they just have to know that's the consequences.

[00:49:11] Nathan Wrigley: So that's delay in effect is a financial penalty because, time is money. Yeah.

[00:49:17] David Wamsley: Okay. Okay. Yeah. They've run a, if you've got that your free and they can book these slots available and then, they disappear and then you think you're going to put the, in my case, two sprints together to complete it or three and they break, I might take on work and then those slots that, so they pushed back even further on.

The delay, which, on a bigger scale, that's one of the reasons for agile itself is the fact that by having big projects, the period of time it takes to get to launch means that all that money, it, if you had something out that could be bringing a new in a return, so it's, it's a loss to them, isn't it?

Yeah. Yeah.

[00:50:02] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. I was just going to say, I suppose you've got to think a little bit from the client perspective as well. Maybe we need to be asking questions about Wally. There's a delay, not just. There's a delay. Yeah. It might be apropos to communicate and say, look, there is a delay.

Is there anything I need to know about? And it might be completely legitimate. Just before we got on the call, we talked about who knows, maybe there's been some sort of family crisis that can't be avoided. Maybe the business has had to change in an unexpected ways. You just don't know.

There may be a totally legitimate way. I think typically we tend to see the lack of communication or the radar, sorry the going off the radar or ghosting or whatever. We seem to often take that as a chance to get angry, as opposed to a chance to figure out why they've gone off radar.

And I imagine this program will benefit figuring it out. The num the ironic thing I suppose, would be that you'll probably send them an email asking why they've gone off radar and you don't get a repeat.

[00:51:08] David Wamsley: But honestly, I think that's such a great point because I think, sometimes people don't answer out of shame, they're actually embarrassed that they've disappeared,

[00:51:19] Nathan Wrigley: oh yeah. How many times, being honest, how many times have you. Going off the radar with somebody that you shouldn't have gone off the radar with, and then some measurable period of time passes.

And now it's too long. It's oh my goodness, it's been a whole week. I can't possibly, I've done that to my shame. I've done those kinds of things. And somehow it just takes one of somebody to reach out. It's weird, like friends that I knew at university who I don't speak to them.

'cause I don't speak to them now. And that's the only reason I've got. And then I've done it a few times. I actually did it in lockdown quite a lot. Just got in touch with them, utterly out the blue. And it was like, Nan, just natter, natter, NASA. It's like, why didn't you do this before?

That kind of approach might just work using the phone again.

[00:52:09] David Wamsley: Yeah, I think most of the time there's good reasons. It's worth, like you say, it's fine. It's worth finding out the reasons. I think there is one, one tip for anybody who is starting this new one thing that has annoyed the life out of me is sorting out for launch in sorting out the DNS, getting it over to my host and uses the case.

And when. Some third party, not the client. It just goes horribly wrong because in most cases, the client then wants to duck out because they say, I don't know, I had this tech guy before and you're the new tech guys talk to each other. Will you please? And so I've learned with that one to start thinking about that one a lot earlier and try and get the logins I am in on with that

[00:52:51] Nathan Wrigley: totally with you.

I get it. That one is a bit of a nightmare. Isn't it? And there's no real. There's no real way of fixing that by being nice. It's just gotta happen.

[00:53:00] David Wamsley: Yeah, exactly. And I know it's really annoying at the end of Sunday, at least if they can be sorting that out while you're working on the project, but it's the thing that when you think you've, time's been used up in you and did it, and you're wasting time chasing somebody, that's the worst I started earlier.

[00:53:17] Nathan Wrigley: And then you get those emails, my website can't go live. Wow. What just impenetrable nonsense about DNS that nobody understands including me. I might add. I think we've done it. I think we've basically got there. Haven't we apart from final thoughts.

[00:53:35] David Wamsley: Yeah, final thoughts, which is really what we'd be saying through all of this, which is really just about how we can be kind to each other.

And this sounds terrible, doesn't it, people throwing up this to this. But it is about that. It's about good relationships with the clients. Isn't it, and about understanding where they're coming from and also how we're likely to react as well. When we get feedback. Yes.

[00:53:58] Nathan Wrigley: Yes. This is a we're painting, a very rosy picture here.

Aren't we w we're not, we haven't yet imagined the client who literally is obstinate, will disobey everything that we ask and is just blatantly rude. Hoping that we don't like just people, if we do just all of this episode goes out the window, but I think let's sum it up as good relationships are the key.

I think if you try to keep that going. But harking back, I think the main takeaway for me from this episode is the is the content gathering thing that it probably is going to be the biggest point of friction. So if you can figure out a way of making that work for you hurrah, but also, can you tell us all how you.

[00:54:43] David Wamsley: Exactly. Yeah. We'll steal that. Nick. We've got a bonus episode. Not anyone will know this apart from us that we're putting into this season one, the last one of this before the build section, episode six, we thought we'd really asked the question. Where's the next client coming? Yes.

[00:55:01] Nathan Wrigley: That's a good point.

I have a friend of mine at university, always about two thirds of the way through a meal. He would always ask what was the next meal? And it was like, okay, we haven't finished this on yet, but yeah, that's a good point. You can't get to the end of this website build and then start to be looking for clients because there's probably going to be quite a delay.

So where is the next client coming on? Episode six. That will be in a, that'll be in a couple of weeks time. It will. Okay. That was fun. Yeah, that was fun. Thank you, David. And I will speak to you in two weeks time. See? Yep.

[00:55:36] David Wamsley: Yeah. Cheers. Bye.

[00:55:37] Nathan Wrigley: I hope that you enjoyed that episode. It was lovely chatting to David Waumsley as always, if you enjoyed it, if you thought it was interesting or indeed, if you think it was objectionable and you've got a comment to make, which is negative, don't worry. That's fine. Head over to WP builds.com and search for episode number 265.

There is of course on archive. You can look for the podcast archive in the main menu at the top, but episode 265, leave a comment. And no,

leave a comment in there, or head over to our Facebook group. WP Builds.com forward slash Facebook. And you could leave a comment in there. Again, search for episode number 265. We will be back with another podcast episode this time in one week. So next Thursday, it will be an interview because we flip flop between interviews with guests in the WordPress community.

And my chats with David Waumsley. So next week it'll be an interview and also we'll be back every Monday, 2:00 PM, UK time live this week in WordPress. So join us for some of that. If I don't see you, I hope you have a very nice week. Stay safe. I'm going to fade in some cheesy music. And say. Bye-bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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