Posted on December 3, 2009
Web Development in Malaysia: Bukan Business Air Liur
I took a glance at my company account and see so many reds which leads to one thing, non-paying customer. The most back dated ones goes way back to 2007 and up till today, that site is still up and fronting clients, virtually.
Like any business owner, I’d call and talk to their accountant to release the remaining balance. I felt pretty much like a beggar asking for lose change on the streets of KL. Every single time I’d call, he’d excuse himself and ask for extensions. It’s nothing more than a few K’s, and for a land developer, what is few K’s compare to M’s?
I was planning on asking my uncle’s help and sue them. Fortunately for them, I do not wish to waste my time with dick heads like these. It’s not about money, it’s about ethics and credibility. You buy products, you pay in full, unless it’s discounted.
Under Appreciative Industry.
Allow me explore this further. There are 2 crucial points to consider;
- Design – Involves art
- Programming – Involves technical
Unlike most industries, web development requires the developer to master both worlds. In other words, become an amphibian. I assure you, it’s not an easy task.
Most companies have 2 brains for this, web designers to design and web programmers to code stuff. The limitation of this model is, designers may not know what are the boundaries of a web. Likewise programmers do not know the depth of the designer. Most of the time, designers are way over their heads when it comes features. Either the programmer is incompetent or the technology have yet to exist.
Why don’t I hire people? Well I do, occasionally, especially photogrpahers. But it’s best I control these two worlds. (Yes, I am a control freak.)
Like any other projects, a web has to go through several stages before it matures. Procurement, Development, Installation, Training, Commissioning, and some times, Delivery. Whilst this may vary depending on company, but this is the ideal working order. Shortcuts are not allowed, and perhaps an extended foreplay for complicated project. Yes, this is very much like engineering.
Now the moolah (money) part. Internationally, the going rate for a web development is USD50 per hour. Since I’m talking about Malaysia, it would be RM50. But most clients (in Malaysia) do not like the idea of Per Hour basis. They think we’re cheating their money. Fair enough, web developers charge a lump sump (often stomach-able, not lavish).
But then again, this is Malaysia and the web industry is very much under appreciated.
The Cheapskate Clients.
Let me break this down into several clients/ leads.
“I want an e-commerce website, RM 1,500 can?”
The common trend of e-commerce is credit card enabled. Although it may appear simple, but it’s actually tough. We’re dealing with security at the same do not want to complicate potential customer. Then the overall design, mini, macro too. Next the engine itself. There are a handful of open source shopping cart out there, however that does not make things any simpler. More choice = more doubts = more work. So, RM 1,500 for an e-commerce website: Possible, but wish your best that you’ll generate sales.
“Copy this website functions and cost between RM700, bole?”
Some clients have always thought Web Development as a cut-and-paste business. If it was that simple, you should do it yourself instead of hiring someone. Back to the RM700, now, how many runs of debugging should you do? Until it works right? Because that’s what you’re paid to do. But sometimes, it remains buggy for a few more weeks. Then again, is RM700 good enough to last for more than a month?
“Layout like this website, with bla bla bla. RM 500?”
Layout, design, overall look, magazine, three column or what ever, it all points to the same thing, how it displays. Like an individual, EVERY and I mean EVERY project is unique. If a web designer sees this as opportunity, then they’re probably delusional (slightly). It takes a lot to come up with something original, wordings, elements, focused and most often forgot, good usability. So if you come to me with RM500 for a unique design, then I’m sorry, I can’t.
“Very simple only, 4-5 pages. RM 100/page can?”
Possible, thanks to ready-templates available at cheap price. But often, web developers love the lime light. In other words, they’d like to add new pure-awesomeness projects in their portfolio. So if it’s templated, where does it fit other than the tummy? Call me an egoist, but I believe I deserve more.
“I need you to change this ASAP, datuk has complained about this”
Clients have their way of throwing hardballs. Today it’s like this, tomorrow it’s like that. Being the kind web developer you are, you abide to these demands. Then you are screwed. Your job is not to re-do stuff.
“I’d like to add this and that building somewhere in the design”
Whilst it may be available at Flickr, I find this demeaning. First, the picture doesn’t belong to me nor them. Second, it spoils the entire balance in design. Third, you should have told me during the designing stage before it’s turned into a website!
“I like Comic San, I don’t want Georgia. I don’t care what others say.”
The idea of building a website, IS NOT for you, but to attract NEW LEADS! To an untrained eyes, Comic Sans maybe nice, but it’s also by far the most irritating fonts ever (presently and future).
A well trained, groomed web developer is VERY accustomed to good designs. Unless they make a very sinful and ugly design, it’s best to have it their way. Why? Like fathers and mothers, they know best about their kids potential.
But, if you want it your way, then ask yourself, how often do you visit your company’s website? Even as a religious web developer, I don’t even visit mine daily, instead monthly.
End of Rant
All I wanted to say is, I WANT MY MOOLAAHH but instead I took a step deeper into our (Malaysian Web Developer) concerns. Suffice to say, I’ve left many clues to aspiring web developers out there on how tough the web industry is. Rest assured, if you have passion and talent and a rich dad*, you’re safe.
Quote: Customer is always right
Who they hell said this may be one of the Best Ass Kisser around. In my industry, customers are usually wrong. That’s why they hired me, to correct their wrong. Again people, even if you have the money to spend, it doesn’t make you king.
You got a problem with your industry? Spit it out! I want to read too!
*rich dad: Helps you pay your outstanding credit card bills.
ps: In case you’re wondering, I work at Laman7 and I love building cool corporate websites. (No it has nothing to do with Windows7)