In this blog post Rob outlines the importance of maintaining client contact through the medium of espresso.
Espresso, Agency Style
If there is one thing I miss from London it's coffee.
In London you could find a coffee shop on every street and commuters hands were ripe with brands hand picked by their consumers - so perhaps you can forgive me that I've lived over quarter of a century without having to ever make an espresso.
Sure, I have an occasional coffee and I'm an avid tea drinker so making those are second nature but espresso is another matter. Understandably this raised concern with me when 'Espresso maker' was decidedly added to my job description - coincidentally at the same time Pete’s craving for one became apparent.
I make my fair share of drinks in the office (although Matt might disagree with me) so for humour purposes I play along, passing the initial tests of 'is it switched on' and 'where does the water go' with flying colours. I've watched the barista at my local Starbucks intently as I await to receive my daily caffeine intake so from memory I did as I had observed, pulling levers and flicking switches.
After delivering what I thought was the epitome of perfect espresso's and presenting it to the boss with my head held high, the look on his face made me think otherwise. It wasn't one of disgust or disappointment, it was more one of shoulder shrugging satisfaction for what I delivered wasn't bad in any way but it wasn't quite what Pete had expected either.
Working in an agency it's sometimes easy to forget that a clients vision is sometimes different from our own. We may be experts in website usability and creative vision but sometimes it's easy to forget that it's the client who interacts with the websites audience everyday so they know them better than anyone.
It's almost unheard of for any agency to deliver something completely different from a clients expectations but its not so rare to blur the lines between exact and nearly exact and it is normally mid way through development that these present themselves.
In an ideal world 99% of 'line blurring' should be picked up in the defining process so that you can get a full understanding of your clients requirements whilst they get an idea of what thought processes are involved in the creation of a website. So what do you do with that 1% that presents itself during the creation stage? Simple. Do everything else that will affect the delivery of the project then if you feel your change is still relevant, talk to your client!
It's not often you get a client who will tell you off for looking for a way to improve the experience of their users and even if they say no, chances are they'll have a good reason for saying it and respect you for taking interest.
Granted there are times when this may not apply to all clients but communication is the most valuable tool in delivering projects on time so clients should always be made aware of anything that will have a positive (or negative) effect on their business whenever appropriate.
To play it safe I think I'll stick with Yorkshire Tea for now and leave the espresso making to the experts but as far as my clients go, they will always get my full attention whether I'm on a tea break or not.