Unrealistic Expectations In Web Development

It’s amazing what you can find on Craigslist. I spend a little time every few weeks seeing what kind of web design projects people post. It keeps me in the loop of what the local market place is in need of and of course, you never know, might find a good client in the process.

The posts are frequently laughable. Lots of promises to cut you in to what could be a million dollar business, as long as you provide a huge amount of development work for free, of course. Some pretty unrealistic expectations as well.

Take this post I came across today, for example:

“I need an INDEPENDENT website developer (Saratoga Springs)

I have a great idea for a website similar to that of facebook.com and I need someone to build this website. The idea is extremely marketable and is potentially worth millions. I need someone in this local area so I can meet with them and discuss the website and the contract to build it. So again it is very important if you reply to this ad you must be able to construct a website with similar abilities to that of facebook.com and you must be local as well.

So if you are interested then please call this number xxx-xxx-xxxx. “

Now, the rebuttal post (it was not I who wrote this, I swear. But, I’ll admit to wanting to!)

“RE: I need an INDEPENDENT website developer (Moronville)

Where to begin? Perhaps in a number-bulleted fashion?

1) You want a website designed that’s like Facebook, and you expect a single website-developer to do this work for… ? Do you have any idea how much it would cost to develop a site that resembles Facebook? Are you familiar with the software development lifecycle?

2) Why is Facebook worth billions? Because 500,000,000+ people use it. How many people do you think will use your website? A niche audience? A wide-ranging audience? If Facebook is worth $50billion, that means each user is worth roughly $100. For a startup website like you’re talking about, you won’t get the value/user of $100… probably more like $1 – $10… if that.

3) You’re an idiot. “

Whoever you are, I salute your candor. While I’m not as harsh, I do find myself frequently having similar conversations. Most of the time I feel pretty bad about it. It’s no fun bursting someones bubble with cold hard reality. I know that most web businesses fail. Success is the exception, not the rule. It takes knowledge, financing, dedication, hard work and a set of realistic expectations to make it work.

Anything is possible in this digital world, as it’s always been. The web doesn’t make it a sure thing.

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