Why I prefer email

* In this article, I say ‘email’, but please note that I am using that as an umbrella term that also includes all online, written communication, for example, via a project management system, like Asana, or something like Slack or Google Docs.


 

Website development involves a lot of solitary, technical work and so as a profession, it is a good fit for introverts.

Business owners who find telephone communication easier, and who may also notice that a particular website developer is an introvert, can often make the false assumption that developers prefer email communication because of their introversion.

It may seem logical that someone who prefers to work alone, shies away from live or in-person communication. Although that may have some truth to it, email communication is best for website development projects.

Here’s why:

  • Over the telephone, it is very common for anyone involved not to hear things correctly. For example, the letters ‘S’ and ‘F’ sound exactly the same and some words are hard to distinguish. Having the wrong word or a misspelling in your headings or domain name can cause big problems for your website.
  • In an email, you can send direct, clickable links to the pages, posts, example sites, and articles that you are discussing.
  • If you send direct links over email, everyone involved in the conversation has the time and space to thoroughly read and explore what you’ve sent before responding.
  • Changes happen that affect website development at a rapid pace. I often research options to make sure they are still the best, fastest and most secure option, before replying. That is not possible over the phone or in a meeting.
  • In an email, everyone involved in the conversation has a complete record of what was discussed. Telephone/meeting conversations can be recorded; however, this is not common, it can make participants uncomfortable and not everyone walks away with a copy.
  • Even if you recorded a live conversation, it would be hard to remember which exact date certain items were discussed and at which point in the conversation they were mentioned. Email messages, on the other hand, can be skimmed or searched. Taking the time to transcribe and/or document live conversations after every phone call or meeting takes a lot of time.
  • Meetings and phone calls happen out of the flow of other email communication. In order to keep everything together and everyone on the same page, meeting or phone call transcriptions or minutes would have to be emailed out to all participants, every time.
  • Website development can involve very complicated work. If you provide a long list of complex changes over the telephone, it is a lot more likely something will be missed or forgotten.
  • Phone calls and meetings always take up more time and are much more disruptive to my workflow.
  • Email messages can be encrypted and sent securely.
  • It is very difficult for me to listen attentively to what you are saying, while also looking at and analyzing a website or other text or images or data for the first time.

That said, I do continue to have regular meetings with clients, both in-person and over the telephone.  Sometimes it can be helpful to touch base, and ask and answer general questions. When it comes down to actual, specific requests, please send these in an online written format.

When I do agree to meetings and telephone conversations, I will need these to be scheduled in advance. I cannot drop work that I’m in the middle of doing to call you back immediately. Again, this is not because of introversion or telephone avoidance.

  • Even though I may have just sent you an email, that doesn’t mean I’m available to chat on the phone. I may be in the middle of emailing other clients as well.
  • I often have my time scheduled out for the day, and although I have cleared some time to reply to your email, I do have other work on my schedule.
  • The conversation may take longer than you expect, and I may not actually have a full hour free this minute.
  • I may have a meeting, an appointment or have a scheduled call with another client.
  • Sometimes I have extremely complicated, technical work that requires 100% of my focus. At these times, my phone is turned off and I am likely using noise cancelling headphones.

I have worked on hundreds of websites and have found that issues that are so urgent that they require immediate attention almost never occur. Very, very occasionally they do, and that is why, when clients sign up to work with me, I provide them with information about how to get in touch with me if anything urgent comes up.

All of my clients are important to me, and I do enjoy the work that I do. My preference for email communication has nothing to do with how introverted I am, how much I value you as a client, how I feel about talking with you, or my sleep/life/work schedule.

Doing clean, accurate, secure website development work quickly and efficiently is why I prefer email communication.