Website Consulting

Website Development Coaching Service and Materials

The following is based on decades of experience building, supporting and hosting websites. We do not build websites for direct clients (our only builds are through agency partnerships) and therefore the goal of the following is NOT to sell you a website.

MISSION CRITICAL: Making the Right Hiring Decision

Regardless of whether you are a small mom and pop or a large corporation; deciding on who will build your next website and how it is built is a critical decision. It’s critical because if the wrong decision is made you may end up blowing a large budget or wasting away scarce funds, you may end up with a product you are not happy with, that is hard to maintain or update, that inhibits marketing efforts such as SEO rankings by performing poorly, that is expensive to support or needs be replaced all too soon.

We Have Seen All Kinds of S***

At FatLab we are in a unique position of working with a lot of sites we did not build and we have seen everything from examples of greatness to sites where all we can do is recommend a rebuild. We have been the bearer of bad news all too many times to agency executives, communication/marketing managers and business owners; telling them that their websites were not built well and won't do what they want them to do, won't perform the way they want them to perform and won’t provide services and experiences critical to their business.

Keep reading, most of this is FREE

It all comes down to who they chose to build and design their website. A flashy portfolio, an attractive price, raving testimonials and fluffy answers to fluffy RFPs resulted in a rat’s nest of code, a website full of conflicts and bugs and large support expenses. The decision on who will build a site is so critical that we at FatLab are taking a stand. We are tired of seeing very smart people make very poor decisions because they don’t know any better and nor would we expect them to.

How is a non-programmer supposed to evaluate a programmer? A business executive may know their business inside and out but we can’t expect them to know our business: programming for the web. However every day such executives buy websites based on many things but almost never a true technical evaluation of the service provider.

Your Website Coaches / Consultants

Shane Larrabee

Shane LarrabeeShane Larrabee is an award winning web developer with over 19 years experience consulting on, supporting and building websites for fortune 500 companies, federal agencies, members of congress, nonprofits, politicians and business of all kinds. Shane knows several programming languages, frameworks and CMS’s.

Niki Sebastino

Niki SebastinoNiki Sebastino began her career as a designer, then moved to website development in 2008. Niki has strong front and back end development skills, has worked freelance, in-house, and for large and small agencies. She is comfortable with HTML, Sass, JavaScript, PHP and focuses on WordPress support and development.

We Can Help You Plan and Hire with Confidence

Again, Most of this is FREE

To help you make the right decision from the start, to help you pick the right freelancer, studio, agency or software development shop, we have put together a program to guide you through the hiring and planning process. These materials and services are designed to help you avoid bad web development by being confident you did everything you could do to plan for and evaluate the person or team who will ultimately be delivering your new website.

Our Website Consulting Program

The program starts with a free eBook as the cornerstone to this entire exercise and then includes a set of questionnaires and online applications that will help you evaluate your initial needs and the competency of your potential developers. All of this is free and can be downloaded and accessed below. Seriously, if you read the book and utilize the worksheets we are confident that you will be on track to planning a great website and successful project for your organization… no need to hire us (unless you want to).

Absolutely Free Resources (we don’t even ask for your email):

* denotes a consulting service, please contact us for pricing and more information

  1. eBook: Planning Your Next Website   Download Now
  2. Website Planning Kit (coming soon)
  3. Developer/Designer Interview Questions (coming soon)
  4. Discovery Meeting*
  5. RFP Consulting & Review*
  6. Proposal Review*
  7. Developer Review & Interviews*

Again I can’t stress enough that the above linked resources are NOT light teaser material designed to make you call us for paid services. Hell, that eBook alone is 20 pages long! We are just so tired of seeing crap work produced by this industry that we had to take a stand and provide people free and hopefully very helpful resources to avoid the all to common pitfalls. However with that said we do have to make a living and do offer an enhanced consulting service whereby we can work directly with you and your organization to plan your next website.

Ebook: Planning Your Next Website

eBook: Planning Your Next Website

This free eBook is designed to walk a non-technical business person through the planning and hiring process for their next website. At 20 pages, this is not a light brochure designed to sell our services. This publication focuses on how to plan for your next website, how to interview potential web developers and designers, what to watch out for and how communicate exactly what you need. By following the advice in this document we hope to help businesses make the right hiring choice by knowing the right questions to ask, the right information to provide and by having a little insight into the web development/design industry.

Download Now

Website Planning Kit (coming soon)

This companion to the eBook is also free and available for immediate download. Based on the principals outlined in the Planning Your Next Website eBook, this kit gives you a set of questions to ask yourself and your potential developers and designers. Designed to help get you focused, asking the right questions and really thinking about your project in way that will make sense to both your and your vendor.

Website Planning Kit
Web Developer/Designer Interview Question

Developer/Designer Interview Questions (coming soon)

Another free companion to the Planning Your Next Website eBook available for immediate download, this document provides you with a set of questions to ask your potential developers and designers. Each question is designed to challenge your potential vendor and make them think how they will develop a website specifically for you and your needs. Sure some of it gets a little technical but we hope this document helps you weed out the hacks and point-and-click kiddies so as to hire the right team or individual to build your next website.

Website Consulting Services

OK that is the end of the free stuff. We have to make a living now and are available to work directly with you and your business to find the right developer/designer for the job.

Discovery Meeting

One of the most important meetings you can have is a “discovery meeting”. This is the first step when starting to plan a new website with your organization. Whether there is only one person or 10 that get to have say in the new website, it’s important that you meet and discuss all the details of the new website. What will it look like? What will it do? What does it have to have at launch and what can wait to added later? What are each person’s needs, dreams, hopes and fears? This discussion is about dreaming whereby we start by not even talking about budget and schedules but big picture stuff and by the end of the meeting we have crushed everyone’s dreams with the realities of budget, timeline and capability… I’M JOKING, but seriously, the goal here is to allow every stakeholder a chance to speak and by the end of the meeting we have a realistic picture of exactly what needs to be built (and how and by when).

As part of our services we can lead this meeting, document everything and start to develop a true requirements document for your new website. We have been leading and taking part in such exercises for decades and know how to corral even the craziest of cats.

RFP Consulting and Review

We will work with you to structure your RFP in a manner that will make sense to potential developers and designers. The goal here is to avoid fluffy jargon and simply make your needs and requirements as clear as day. A clear RFP will allow your bidders to provide realistic budgets and timelines while leaving the guesswork to the side. Nothing turns a project negative faster than a misunderstanding between the client and the development team. We will help avoid this situation by making sure your RFP is not ambiguous and eliminating any parts that may be open to interpretation.

Proposal Review

As part of this comprehensive service we will help review the proposals you receive, translate some of that tech jargon to language you understand and simply make sure you are getting what you asked for. We’ll look at these from a developer’s perspective and help make sense of exactly what is being proposed, point out any holes or fluffy BS answers. We’ll help identify those proposals from companies/individuals that seem to “get it” and those that don’t.

Developer Review/Interviews

One of the hardest things to work through when taking with freelancers, studios or agencies is trying to figure if they are as good as they say they are. Beautiful portfolios, glowing testimonials and a proposal full of fancy methodologies and impressive biographies does little to prove they actually know how to design or to write clean efficient code. Our website consultant services help sort this out and get you a very clear picture of the teams or individuals that may build your website.

We have developed an online questionnaire that you can send to your potential developers that we can help determine what “kind” of developer they really are. We can also sit (or Skype in) as a member of your team and help run interview sessions and evaluate responses.

Contact Us Today

We are very confident that the above free resources will put you on the right track to planning for and hiring for your next website project. However we would love to provide the value-add of our website consultant services to your team and work with you directly to make the right hiring choice. We are impartial and will not try and sell you our own development services. We're simply here to be your guide on this very complex and important journey.

Please call us today at 703-662-5792 or click here to use our contact form.

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