Recently a customer came back with a feature request. We're building an online store for them that is replacing their previous online store. The feature they want would allow them to upload an order with products that may or may not be in the system, tied to one of their customers so they (the end customer) can log in and pay for it.
What is the point?
I am under the assumption that whenever a business decides they want a website, there is a good reason for it. They are going to spend a lot of money for custom development, so it should be worth it, have some ROI attached to it. Otherwise what's the point?
A business is, again, I am assuming, out there to make money by solving an actual or perceived need / want of others who are willing to give it money in exchange of the thing they're providing. Therefore money in > money out.
That means if someone spends £20,000 on a new ecommerce website (figure totally made up), then the new website should allow them to make £20,000+ in under a year MORE than what they were doing previously. Otherwise what's the point?
If my company is making sales of £35,000 this year, I spend £20,000 on a new website, and after that my sales are £37,000, there was no point. The net effect of that is -£18,000 if counted for one year, or -£8,000 for two years. The only time it becomes a break-even is if I count it for 10 years. £20,000 spent over 10 years, £20,000 extra earned over ten years.
Still, what's the point then? 10 years is a long time for something so small.
Our industry's role
We, the industry, web designers and developers, also need money. We sell our time / expertise to the customers, so in a sense we win even if we implement something that won't be beneficial for the client, but they've asked for it. After all, we have bills to pay too.
I disagree with this. I think part of our job is to educate the client (God, I hate this term), make them see the direct actions / consequences of what they're doing.
Sometimes it's better not to implement a feature on the site. Sometimes it's easier for them to just pick up the phone, have a 10 minute conversation with their client, and achieve the same result that whatever extra feature they might want implemented on the site.
Sometimes that means that we, the industry, are telling our clients that "no, you don't actually need my work, because it'd take you into red, you wouldn't see the benefit of it, and you'd have buyer's remorse". That means that we are talking money out of our own pocket.
Because it's the right thing to do.
Because I want to build spaceships, and move stuff forward and not spend time building something that I know is unnecessary. It's soul-destroying.