For me, the worst part about turning over a website to my clients is a fear that they won’t touch it. I try to set out to make websites not brochures. I’m not too sentimental about my designs. I like websites to look good, and move visitors to action. So, a website doesn’t work well unless it’s being used, changed, tested, and updated. I know some designers lock WordPress down hard when handing it over to clients so the client can’t break it. But I have safeguards in place and I’m never more than 24 hours away from a backup.
I really want my clients to use WordPress. I love WordPress. It’s so powerful and easy to use.
So, I take pride in training my clients how to use my design in order to advance their businesses. My entire design process is focused on helping them to use WordPress. When I first meet with a potential client I try to make sure I’m talking to the person who will be using the website when it’s done. I want them to be a part of the entire process.
I also try to use themes with template libraries mainly I use Divi from Elegant themes which would allow me to design page templates that can be saved and then used multiple times.
I used to quote websites by the number of pages that needed to be created. Now I quote them based on the number of page templates that need to be created. Dropping in text and images to internal pages can be quick and easy when a template is designed properly.
So, typically, I have three or four Page templates for each site that I build (homepage, contact page, and a couple similar content pages). Typically, that is all I need in order to complete a project. When I design these templates I save them to the library so that my clients can use them in the future. I try to make getting a new page up as simple as possible right from the beginning.
Unless my client plans to be doing major WordPress design there really are only a couple of things they need to know: How to add a new blog post, how to add or update a page, and how to change the menus. These are the tasks on a basic install that a client will need to do on a regular basis.
I like to have a face-to-face training session with my clients in order to show them not only the ins and outs of WordPress, but the theme I’ve chosen and the page templates I’ve built.
I know what many of you are probably thinking. But it’s true I’m not just a designer – I’m a business owner too. And I know the importance of leaving a lasting impression. We all know how crazy the website building experience can be and we know the type of impression that can leave with someone so why not make sure to end on a high note. This is could be the last time you interact with this client before others ask them who built their website.
Here are eight ways that I keep my training fresh and interesting.
1. Build the cost of training into your initial proposal. Training takes time, I found that I was rushing and not leaving a good impression and not well-trained trainees when the project ran over on hours and left little for training at the end. Training also costs money. In the end, your client will appreciate the time you spent training their employees or themselves about their website.
2. Bring food, seriously, a box of doughnuts or a couple of pizzas can really lighten the mood. Do this over a meal time in order to build anticipation. I don’t know what it is about free food that makes people want to come to meetings.
3. Bring gifts, a book you just read, a personalized coffee mug, something that connects you to them. Make it personal, you’ve connected with this client a lot over the past 6-8 weeks (or longer). You should know them pretty well by now. Even if you don’t you could have a mug made with both of your logos on it with a heart in the middle.
4. Plan on more time than you think it will take. You want to make sure you have enough time to show them exactly what they will need to know in order to take care of their website. You also don’t want to run out the door at the end and not have time to answer everyone’s questions. I typically plan on two hours to train 1-2 people and add 30 minutes for each additional person who will be in the room. And if you go fast you can tell your client they can be done early. It’s far better to be done early than to get out late.
5. Make sure you adjust your expectations sometimes it’s hard to drop everything to go to training. Don’t expect every C-level executive to join your training, but some might. I once had the CEO pop into the meeting and take over for a few minutes. You never know what might happen. You have to be flexible and be able to role with the punches.
6. Create a user account for everyone attending the training and make sure that everyone has access to a computer. If you need to bring an additional one be prepared to because the computer to trainee ratio should be 1 to 1.
7. Do not show your trainees anything. I can’t stress this enough! Walk them through a process as they do it. Typically I set up a staging environment that they can’t screw up and I make sure everyone knows that in advance. I want those I’m training to have hands-on experience of doing the tasks that they need to do in order to keep the website fresh.
8. Prepare leave behinds. Since I use a pretty involved Premium theme I developed my own plugin that contains the documentation videos for Divi – Divi Training (I’ve made this plugin free for anyone who wants it) and I install this plugin as well. In the past, I’ve also left step by step instruction on the three basic tasks I mentioned earlier (you can get this free too!).
Like I said earlier, I don’t want to make brochures I want to make websites. And a good website gets changed, updated, added to and subtracted from. I want my clients to understand its ins and outs. I want them to really grasp what the concepts of how the internet works in order to get more traffic and more conversions. The more successful my clients are at their business the more successful I will be at my business.