A lot of sites are never handed completely off to clients. Clients are instructed not to ‘touch anything or you’ll break it’ and the web designer stays on to post to the site.
Though this might sound like a good recurring source of income in the short term, keeping the client away from interacting with the site is probably doing more harm than good in the long term.
“Our propensity to overvalue what we own is a basic human bias, and it reflects a more general tendency to fall in love with, and be overly optimistic about, anything that has to do with ourselves.” -Predictably Irrational by Dr. Dan Ariely
The Ownership bias is a well studied phenomena in psychology. In a nutshell, people tend to place a higher value on their property. Additionally, the more work we put into something, the more we value it.
As a result, your clients will attribute more value to their sites if they are directly working on them. They will be more likely to stay loyal to them, and to you. They will also be more willing to pay for improvements or updates to their sites.
Since they are more likely to view the site as a part of their identity, they will have a personal stake in recommending your work to others.
On the other hand, keeping your clients away from working on their site might actually drive them to fear and dislike their sites.
“People fear things they depend on but don’t have any control over. That’s technology.” –Dr. Christopher Bader
Clients with longstanding businesses already feel as if the ground started shifting beneath them when the internet exploded. Many of them are still baffled by the necessity of online marketing to stay competitive.
They don’t feel as if they’re in control and writing a monthly check to please the mysterious digital gods just contributes to their overall feeling of helplessness in the new digital age.
When you don’t let your clients work on their sites, you’re taking away their opportunity to try this new thing out and become familiar with it.
As a result, they will be more likely to view this whole digital marketing thing as a necessary evil. Therefore they’ll be more likely to price shop, or switch to another provider. Letting your clients work on their sites is crucial to giving the feeling of control back to them.
In short, you should let your clients get their hands dirty with their sites. They’ll value the site more and they will recommend your work more.
Of course, letting the client break the site or make bad design decisions is not an option either. A broken site is probably not going to endear them to you either. I wrote this post to talk about how to keep your clients from breaking their sites.
Additionally, Advanced Custom Fields is a plugin which gives clients a really user-friendly interface to edit their site. It also has features for enforcing design decisions so your client can never put ill-fitting content into the site. Read this post to learn about these features.