How to talk to your technology consultant about your embarrassing website condition

computer doctor

Dusty home pages, out of date software libraries, and unanalyzed customer data are common for any business and most professionals will have seen problems just like yours before. A good technology consultant will listen to your issues carefully, find the underlying problems, and come up with the right improvement plan for you.

Whether your website issue is actually embarrassing or not, these tips are meant to guide you through a conversation that is often complicated because it may involve areas outside of your expertise. We've worked hard to make it easy to use to find technology consultants with the specific specialties you need. Once you've chosen one (or two or three) try using these ideas to facilitate that conversation.


Identify your symptoms

Start by identifying your issues and and writing them down ahead of time. This will help you to collect your thoughts before your consultation and keep the conversation on track. As a bonus you’ll be able to compare how the treatment improved your symptoms once you’re done. Even if you think you know what the cure is, start by first communicating the issues you’re seeing and any relevant background.

From this

My site looks bad on my cellphone so I want to make iPhone and Android apps for it.

To this

When I look at my site on my cellphone some inputs are too big or too small and the images are cropped wrong (ex: urls 1 and 2). Some similar mobile sites I like are Site X and Site Y. Some similar apps I like are App Y and App Z.


Discuss the diagnosis

Once you have communicated your issue, your technology consultant will examine your symptoms, run her own tests, and make a diagnosis. You may be experiencing many symptoms that appear related. Your technology consultant may even uncover symptoms you didn’t know you had. It is up to the two of you to decide if they are related or not.

Diagnosing the problem correctly is often the most difficult part of the process. An incorrect diagnosis will lead to unnecessary or potentially harmful treatment and many more costly appointments. Make sure that you understand the reasoning behind the diagnosis and can phrase it in your own words.

From this

My mobile payments are low compared to my desktop payments. A customer emailed me that their mobile purchase failed so I bet there is a bug in mobile payments and it is costing me a lot of revenue.

To this

So based on one month's worth of site usage data from Google Analytics 80% of my users visit on desktop and 20% on mobile. Only 1% of mobile users attempt to make a purchase (20% of which are not completed) compared to 10% on desktop (5% of which are not completed). I agree, it sounds like there is an issue with purchase on mobile, but it’s not seriously affecting revenue. The low conversion rate for mobile vs desktop appears to be the bigger issue.


Understand your treatment options and their trade-offs

After making a diagnosis you should discuss treatment options, how the treatment will alleviate your symptoms, and any side effects that may occur. You may want to try a less aggressive treatment first to see how your symptoms react and use the results from that to see if your initial diagnosis was correct.

From this

I didn’t realize mobile apps were so expensive, but I really want to increase my users and revenue so let’s do it.

To this

Let’s fix the errors we’ve identified on the mobile site and simplify the payment flow to match the wireframes. This should bring mobile payments closer to desktop payments, but user behavior is different on desktop vs mobile, so I shouldn’t expect them to be the exactly the same.


A few things to remember

Don’t be hesitant to get a second (or third) opinion

It’s your website’s health that’s on the line so don’t be afraid to seek out confirmation of your diagnosis and treatment plan if you feel hesitant. Different specialists may have different opinions, based on their own experiences. It’s up to you to reconcile any differences that come up.

Judge your expert by their performance, not just their “bedside manner”

Good communication is required for completing a task, but is not the task itself. Your new logo, updated website design, or improved search rankings are the end goal. Focus on how well these are done and do your best to ignore your technology consultant’s quirks.

Agree on “fee for service” or “fee for outcome”

Come to an understanding of what it will mean to be “done” with your project and who will be responsible for what. This is a tough one. One way of thinking about things is whether you are done after the treatment (such as designing a logo or upgrading your Wordpress installation) or after the symptom has gone away (such as fixing a bug or decreasing your website’s load time to less than a second).

A diagnosis is not free

Be respectful of your technology consultant’s time. Many will offer to listen to your symptoms for free to see if they can provide a solution. If you are seeking out an expert your situation is probably unique enough to require time to properly explain and analyze. Be realistic in your expectations of the time they will give you before they are compensated. A free diagnosis will often be worth the price paid.

And lastly…


Have fun

You have a problem and you’re working to make it go away. Don’t beat yourself up about the problem today, get excited about how much better things will be.

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