Of course normally blog posts are thoughts of my own creation, but I recently received an email that demanded to be posted here verbatim.
It was not personally sent to me, I was part of a BCC (blind copy) distribution list. I think that including their message — and my response — is probably enough to tell you the story and make my point!
Here is the email:
We have an immediate need for a web developer with experience in WordPress, Woo Themes & Woo Commerce to finish a website development project that is almost finished but has hit a snag.
About a year ago, we hired a company that was primarily a designer to re-do our website from scratch. The company gave us a timeline of 2 months & an estimate that was at the top of our budget. While we were very happy with the resulting design, over the course of our project with this company, they went through 5 web developers. It eventually became clear that they did not have a relationship with any developers that had the skill to build the highly customized website we needed.
The design portion of the site is 100% complete. What is left is some final development of the functionality.
Here is who we are looking for:
- A skilled web developer that has current availability
- A bid for the complete job (NOT an estimate or quote)
- Direct contact to the developer working on our project (with the past company we were working through 1 or sometimes 2 middle people & it was not an efficient way to communicate)
- Final payment due on completion of the project
- A firm timeline so we can prepare for launch (ideally, by the end of September)
- A signed contract (by both of us) that will detail what will be done for what cost
The tasks needed before we launch are:
- debug the site for some wonky functionality issues
- fix some display problems, such as text displaying strangely or the website jumping around during normal display
- match the site to the design demos we have in jpeg files
- custom code a calendar plugin to contain events that point directly to “product” pages (NOT “event” pages that contain links to products)
- when development is completely finished, transfer over to our main domain & provide support to clear any bugs that appear during the go live.
- a child theme created from Canvas (we believe our developer did all the customizations within the Canvas code & told us to never update it)
- major slowness & problems on the admin side as well as the front end – needs to be troubleshooted (GoDaddy says it’s not their problem?)
- Several times since we’ve lost our developer, we’ve wondered if it will be necessary to start from scratch – we hope this is not the case!
If you are interested in this job, please email us a bid so we can make a decision soon! If you need more information to produce a bid, please let us know what you need.
And here is my response:
So I’m guessing you are sending this to every web designer you can find, because there is nothing to indicate you know anything about me, or were referred to me. And since it’s sent to YOU with me on BCC, who knows how many other people are copied?
I’m not going to bid on it, and there are a number of reasons.
- Anyone who is at my level of experience (and is any good) is probably too booked up to take on this sort of project with a tight deadline.
- In addition, many professional web designers will not take on clean-up of abandoned projects designed by someone else – especially what you describe below. It’s nearly impossible to know all of the assumptions made by the original designer, and therefore will be incredibly difficult to fix. I would not want to inherit those headaches.
- I would NEVER give a bid, estimate, or quote to anyone without speaking with them first. I don’t care how detailed your email may be (and it is detailed), I think it’s a must to speak with the potential client first, to truly understand the scope of the project.
- In this case, I would NEVER give a bid without seeing the work done to date. Your list of problems that need fixing covers some items that could be major – and without seeing it, there’s no way to know what will be required
- Promising final payment at completion (instead of progress payments) is a sure-fire way to discourage someone like me from even considering it. A professional would expect some sort of payment along the way, based on milestones and/or deliverables.
I could go on, but there are far too many red flags. I’m only responding as a courtesy. Also, your letter promises to make for a great blog post in the near future, because it is so unrealistic in expectations.
I suspect that you could have avoided much of this situation (and all of my negative feedback) if you had read my book.
If you can’t find anyone to clean up this mess, and are interested in starting over (and doing it the right way), let me know.