Transactional vs Relational

Time and time again I speak with website owners whose old designer or developer has abandoned them. The fickle nature of not being able to access the person who created your site often leads to mistrust of the website development industry as a whole.

Contracting into a relationship with a new website developer can be scary territory if you have suffered this betrayal in the past. By first understanding why developers abandon projects to begin with, we can give clarity on how to avoid it.

In my years in the industry, I've seen 4 main reasons why website designers and developers don't return your email when you reach back out to correct issues on the site they created. The reasons vary and speak a lot to this emerging industry.

Reason #1: They closed their doors

This seems obvious, but the reasons why they are out of business are insightful. Often times, website designers and developers are no longer in business because they were failed by the old antiquated model of website design.

Simply put, they weren't profitable. Too many $500 websites and a "project-to-project" mentality cost them their business and they closed the doors to work for someone else.

Many of these pros start out teaching themselves. As they grow in skill level they find that an agency or tech startup will pay them upwards of 150k and see no reason to continue a business of their own and bail.

Why does this matter? Because both the website professional and the website owner need to recognize the value of the goods and services they are receiving. Respecting the skill set of the professional, weighted against the value of the project to return on the investment for the website owner, is a business model that works to keep everyone in business.

Reason #2: They're focused on transactional short-term projects

This reason begins similar to reason #1, but this professional has moved up the chain of project pricing and isn't convinced you can now pay their new rates (and you indeed may not be able to).

Like the pro from Reason #1, they bought into the old model of transactional website design but lucked out in improving their reach and skill level to stay in business by charging more for their work.

Turning your future work away isn't an insult to your request, but it is a reflection on the short sided nature of project-to-project work that's purely transactional.

Reason #3: They're relationship based but have no process and no support

Website professionals that are relationship-based are those that welcome working with clients on an ongoing basis. They value the work they did for you and want to provide an ongoing service to support it.

Their hearts are in the right place, but they need to turn away work because they've yet to carve out a process or hire a team to support the workload.

For professionals in this place, they may want to work with you but they are over their head with too much work because of their lack of processes and support.

Reason #4: They can no longer serve you well (chosen a niche)

Finally, a website designer or developer may turn you away because they’ve evolved their business to focus on a niche.

For freelancers and small agencies, this is the smartest change they can make in their business (on top of focusing on the relational business model of website design).

With this reason, they would turn away further work on your project because they are focusing on a specific product offering to better serve clients and deliver high-quality work.

Focusing on a niche is what we encourage at WP Care Market. For our network, we select website professionals who’ve niched their business, have a process and follow the relational model of website design by providing ongoing website services to clients.

Where to go from here

The quality to look for in a future partnership is always to go with someone who provides ongoing website care within their business model. This means they focus on relationships and are more likely to provide quality and care in their work. Choosing someone who also specializes in your niche is a great bonus.

The best "type" of website professional to choose is a small agency (a company with a team of 2 -5) rather than a single freelancer. When a company has a team, it speaks to stability in the business and lessens the unpredictability.

To read more about why the small agency model is preferred view the "Who Do We Match You With" article on our WP Care Market website.

About the Author

Kristina Romero


Kristina Romero is a website developer and consultant working with small businesses and entrepreneurs through her company KR Media & Designs. As a developer in the Washington D.C area, she had the opportunity to work with the Coca-Cola Company, Food Network and Hollywood Celebrities on various WordPress projects. Kristina is the founder of WP Care Market - a network of site care agencies, a mompreneur and business coach at WP Elevation.