Finding the Right Developer: Transactional vs. Relational

There are a lot of website development companies that will compete for your business. Making the right choice isn’t easy, especially if you don’t have the knowledge and expertise in websites and website development. If you want to gain a quick advantage for you and your organization, here is a great strategy to implement as you get started with your search.  Start with this simple strategy: sort out and get rid of the transactional developers from the relational developers.


With over 20 years of experience working with all kinds of designers, programmers, artists, technicians and other skilled people in this industry, I can tell you that a great project starts with people who care about the journey as well as the results. Those people focusing only on the results – which usually has an emphasis on getting paid, and getting paid well – tend to get in a hurry to complete the job and move on to the next one. Those who care about their clients will take the time to get it right – not only for the first project, but for every project or task with their clients after that.

Let me give you some examples of what questions the transactional developers and the relational developers will ask.

Transactional Developer: What do you want for us to do?
Relational Developer: Why do you want to do this project?

A transactional developer will focus on how their team will get the work done for the highest profit margin. They will try to figure out how to make as much money as possible by getting to the perceived end result. A relational developer will spend the time and the focus to understand the driving forces for the project. Their team will work hard on producing results so that the end results will be beyond what could be perceived.

Transactional Developer: How much money you want to spend?
Relational Developer: What do you expect when the project is done?

A transactional developer will attempt to fit what they currently have “on the shelf”, or to do the least amount of work to fit within a budget. Their bid will be totally driven by what the client’s budget will allow – and then they’ll stop right there. A relational developer will focus on what the client needs. Their team will work with the goals and objectives of the client and then build a bid that works within the client’s budget – which is part of the client’s needs and expectations.

Transactional Developer: How can we build something for us to do?
Relational Developer: What will give our client the most effective and efficient site that they need?

A transactional developer will generally be looking for projects that are fun, exciting, and, of course, profitable. The problem that develops over time is that the team will lose interest.  This causes the project to take longer and with less effectiveness. A relational developer will be motivated to create and complete a website that the client loves and appreciates. They are motivated by the client’s needs and wants.  They are committed to getting the project done the right way within the projected timeframe.

Transactional Developer: How can we end this project quickly and with a clear ending point?
Relational Developer: What can we do to give our client a great experience?

A transactional developer tries to get the project done as quickly as possible – not because the client needs it done quickly, but because they want to be paid and to get on to the next project. Their team drives the whole project, as well as the pace of completion. A relational developer is committed to making the whole process a positive one, with a completion that meets or exceeds the client’s expectations. Their team realizes that the project needs to be completed promptly, but also with a high degree of satisfaction and confidence from the client.

Transactional Developer: Do you understand that we’re done when the project is done?
Relational Developer: Do you want for us to continue working with you when the project is done?

A transactional developer isn’t committed beyond the end of the project. If it works out and the client fits within their framework, they might work with them – or not. A relational developer focuses on continual satisfaction and increased trust. Their team commits for increasing results that create “win-win” situations – especially beyond the completion of the initial project.

There are situations where a developer may be transactional in his or her approach, but they may choose to appear relational, and vice-versa. However, the key point is this: determine where your prospective website developer is coming from.

Let me give you one last scenario, and you’ll understand why all of this is important. The question is this: when you have to build on or add to your website in the future – and you will eventually make changes for sure – will you trust the developer you picked in the first place when it comes to getting the additional work done?

Let that question sink in a bit . . . and then you’ll understand the risk you will take on the initial decision. Don’t treat it lightly.

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