As Shan discovered, it's easy to read these stories and think "I'll never do that" or "that will never happen to me." But if you don't make the decision to act on what you've learned, you'll probably make the same mistakes or even worse ones.
In spite of the horror stories I read here, I just fell into a trap myself. How Stupid can you be. I mean it's black on white here FAVORS CAN CAUSE PROBLEMS. I had read about making a contract... still I didn't do it... An acquaintance of mine wanted a website for her business. She's a therapist. She liked a couple of sites I had done for several other people: A musician, a friend who published his writings about Berkeley in an ebook and my own playground. An appointment was made, we talked things over. Things looked pretty straightforward. So based on that, we concluded she wanted a 1 column layout, talked about the color, how many pages, the graphics, contactpage,with a form, google route-planner. So based on that I calculated a very low price. Based on the other layouts, I thought, it wouldn't take me too much time to do the coding.
The other sites would function like a template more or less. I started making a contract, but didn't finish it... unfortunately, I add, but I was convinced it would be an easy job. 8 pages max and a splash page. 1 Graphic for the background a personalized banner. What could go wrong? NOTHING. Then the horror started. When I sent her the first example pages, she didn't like the color we had agreed upon. She didn't know what other color would look okay, so I came up with about a dozen of different colorshades. Then she wasn't able to choose one. The layout was a simple one-colomn, with dropshadow sidebars, but then she suddenly found the sidebare, too stiff and wanted them out. The splashpage... can it be done it little more like this, or a bit more like that? Maybe something different altogehter? I made about 15 different splashpages... And it went on... and on... and on... I also ended up making a different background for each and every page. I could fill 3 full pages about!
All the changes that have been made. The phonecalls... 6 or 7, each 3 hours on end, with again requests to change this, request to change that, while a day before it seemed so clear that she HAD finally decided that it looked the way she wanted... Next an email rolling in saying... I don't want to drive you crazy...but... The horror stories I had read here haunted me all the time, and I found myself so utterly stupid not having finished the contract. I'm not a webdesigner, okay? I'm just someone who is selftaught, but what I make is clean html and css coding. The graphics I make are not bad at all... I haven't even written the invoice yet, because I really don't want to get paid the lousy amount I had asked for. Better give it away for free. But this has taught me a LOT. It was a great lesson afterall. Next time it will be a clear cut contract. And what's not IN, will cost more. As simple as that.
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