How we pick our clients (and how you should pick your development partner)


When it comes to web development, success lies in hiring the right team for the job and framing up the engagement properly. You want a team that is aligned with your company vision and values. You want to set up an engagement that will maximize return on investment and is aligned with your company’s strategy

It follows then that for every web development company you consider, you will want to know: What type of engagements are they best at handling? Who makes an ideal client for them?

I spent some time this morning thinking through our most successful case studies from the past couple of years looking for patterns and commonalities. Here’s how I would answer those questions for Skyhook:

Scope of services:

  • It’s not your first website build. You’ve been through the pain of getting it wrong before, you learned a lot, and you’re looking to get it right this time.
  • You’re looking for a website specialist. You’ve tried “full service” firms and found their web work lacking. Your website is a big part of your marketing mix and you want to hire a specialist to work on it.
  • You want to go beyond “brochure.” You recognize that a website can be much more than just informational. You want a website that engages your visitors, gets them excited about working with you, answers their pre-sales questions and gets them all warmed up for their next conversation with you.
  • You have a budget of at least $15,000. You built your previous website for somewhere in the $5-10k range and it didn’t quite get you what you want. You’re ready to pay for quality.
  • You are building on WordPress, and you are doing it right. You feel it’s the perfect platform for the kind of site you’re trying to build — marketing oriented, robust and easy to update/extend. But you don’t just want to throw together a template of questionable design quality and functionality. You’re looking to do it right by customizing not only the public-facing side of the site but the administration tools as well.
  • You are looking for an ongoing relationship. True, you’ll be able to manage most of the content updates yourself, but you’re looking for a web firm who will still be around when you have questions and who will proactively advise you on how to keep the website performing and up-to-date

Nature of the relationship:

  • You want to work with smart people. You value a team that knows their craft and is geeky about it, but who is also aware of the broader business context and how their work fits into your goals. You want them to worry about the details so you don’t have to.
  • You want hustle. You move at a good pace and you expect your vendors/partners to keep you moving.
  • You want to work with humans. The business environment can be messy. You want to work with a group that is humble, easy to work with, flexible and team-oriented. You are discouraged when ego, carelessness, impatience and politics come into play.
  • You want to work with experts. You want people who know much more about websites than you do, who have “been there” before and who can help you avoid costly mistakes. You want them to push back when you’re wrong. You expect them to stay on top of the latest technology & trends and to advise you accordingly. You want their expertise to be evident by their frequent, thoughtful interactions with their professional community.
  • You want a company that takes care of its employees. You know that conscientious managers are able to attract, retain and motivate the best talent, and you want that talent working on your project.

Our “why”

This post defines characteristics of our ideal client engagement, but the reasons all stem from our “why.” Put simply, we think the Internet is one of the coolest inventions in all of human history. There’s not a life on planet earth that isn’t impacted by the trajectory of the Internet. Employed properly, it can have massive impact on a business and the lives that business touches, and we get to come to work every day to literally help build it. We make the Internet more beautiful, useful & connected — one site at a time. If you think that’s exciting too, we’d love to meet you.