Marketer, developer must build partnership to ensure successful Web site

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Whether the goal is to develop a Web presence or to get into electronic business, every Web development project travels into uncharted territory. A strong Web developer-client partnership can pave the way to success.

You've explored the project objectives and how they support overall business goals. You've given careful attention to detail in the specification phase. You've agreed on a schedule and the costs.

Now it's time to move on to implementation. Here's where a lot of flexibility and respect on both sides of the partnership can make all the difference.

Experience shows that even when client and developer have documented specifications of the direction, scope and nature of the project, the likelihood of conflict in implementation is high.

Developing a great site is complex. It is likely you'll come to intersections where developer and client have different assumptions and can wind up clashing over things that were assumed understood. If each side acknowledges the other's respective expertise and is willing to work through the obstacles courteously, it can smooth out the bumps in the road.

Service differentiates

Even if you're the most seasoned marketing or communications professional, recognize that the nature of communicating on the Web is different from other media. Print media are bound in time and space in a physical way; online unleashes these restrictions, giving you previously unheard-of agility.

Trust your developers to help you, to coach you through the focusing of the work, to represent you to the world. They are experts and, if you've chosen them well, they will take the initiative to thoroughly understand your business objectives and will work with you to meet your goals.

And if you're on the developer side, remember that your job is to make clients look good.

Emphasize service. Yes, you have terrific talent, both creative and technical; your most important differentiator, however, is the service with which you put talent to work.

Do what it takes to make the clients successful. Ensure that they are armed with data and status ammo to provide accountability to management and keep confidence at a high level.

Build a connection

You're in this together. Both sides want a successful outcome.

If you've done well, you will have established the foundation for an ongoing relationship. Given the nature of this medium, and the need for change and refreshment, there will be ample opportunity to work together again.

Christine Macfarlane is president of Macfarlane Group, a marketing consultancy in Groton, Mass.

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