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Building a web site is like building a house

I recently spoke with a home builder that couldn’t understand why a web site couldn’t be quoted over the phone. Since I’ve always used the metaphore that “building a web site is like building a house” I assumed that the person on the other end would understand.

You know, it goes like this: “It’s really difficult to quote a web site over the phone because they’re all so different. Building a web site is like building a house. You have to know how many bedrooms there are and what kind of light fixtures, etc., etc., etc.”

Even after using that metaphore the person couldn’t understand and wanted me to quote something right then and there. Amazing.

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  1. I always figured it would work with a homebuilder. My world is warped right now. I’m in a state of shock. All of my sales training is failing me. 😉

  2. Give me that guy’s number. I’ll ask for a quote on a two bedroom – and hold him to it later when I want an extra 2 bedrooms, a pool, and a bownling alley through my living room.

    Maybe then he’ll understand. Welcome to our world! 🙂

  3. CReating a website is even more complicated than builing a home. Normally, a home has several patterns and 99% of the people follow one or anohter pattern. But for website it is totally a different issue. Posibilites are endless here.

  4. “Even after using that metaphore the person couldn’t understand and wanted me to quote something right then and there.”

    I agree but you can instead easily give them a range for the price which is all they’re really asking…I’ve do it almost every day. All you need to know fi what kind of ‘house’…a ‘row-home’, a ‘town-house’, etc.

    I tell them the number and then I tell them where to find examples that match the numbers.

    It’s absolutely not a problem.

    “Creating a website is even more complicated than builing a home.”

    Bull. I regularly build sites in a hour and I charge the client my min. charge of $100 (usually for tiny non-profits). They’re not by any means a great example of my skill, but they do indeed work.

    If you want to go back to the house analogy, some people do indeed need to live in their cars for whatever reasons.

  5. Usually the next part that follows is just as bad — “you want that by when!!”

  6. Yeah. In our world everything is a rush project. We just finished a rush project that took 6 months and was supposed to take 8 weeks. We gave them a rush timetable that we knew we could meet and we met all of our objectives internally but the client didn’t yet it’s ok for them but not for us. Weird world.

  7. Razib –

    I’m going to reckon you’ve never been exposed to the homebuilding industry. Despite the fact that some builders have “templates” they work of, they still have to contend with numerous vendors, sub-contractors, banks, investors, future homeowners, change requests, weather delays, non-payment issues, overpayment issues, labor disputes, material shortages, tight deadlines, architect sensitivities…for EVERY single home they build.

    As a web developer myself, our industry has my sympathies for some of the BS we have to go through, but you’re kidding yourself if you think they have nothing on our problems.

    I’ve done work for several home builders and land developers. I wouldn’t put myself through that kind of stress for all the tea in my refridgerator.