Okay, I’ll admit it…I’m addicted to “Hell’s Kitchen”. I’ve never been a fan of Reality TV, but this show has such a unique flair. Looking back on the time I first sat and watched it, my reaction has gone from, “Man, this Ramsay guy is hilarious” to “Hmm…he really knows what the heck he’s doing.” On the surface he seems crude and “bullyish”, but dig deeper and you’ll find it’s just his passion for excellence. Really, he’s creating higher standards through his desire to make food quality and service better. Wouldn’t it be great to have that same passion and desire in what we do in web design?
Think about it. No longer would you get a half-done product that someone cut corners on just to get it done. It would be a relief knowing that you could walk in looking for 100% and leave having paid for at least that. That’s the core of Gordon Ramsay’s reputation: giving 100%, consistently. There’s a lot we can learn from his ideas and ways of getting things done, but here’s five good points:
There was a challenge on the show the other night where the chefs had to be creative and come up with a dish using pre-chosen ingredients. One chef created an unusual, bizarre entree that was deemed impossible, but was met with great praise from Chef Ramsay. He lost. Why? It looked terrible.
Our clients can have some of the most compelling content that really portrays their company well. But, without proper organization and visual appeal, the website loses its luster and ends up costing the company valuable business. We only have a few seconds to get our online visitors’ attention and then they’re off elsewhere. Remember: The content is the meat and potatoes of the website. You have to present that in a creative, easy-to-use way that makes the customer want to try it. That’s the key to effective web design.
…and the phrase we all wait for in the show, “Open Hell’s Kitchen” – that’s when all the exciting drama starts. From there it only goes one of two ways: Either your team serves all the tables or Chef Ramsay shuts your kitchen down. It all depends on whether or not you follow-through on your duties in the kitchen, and whether or not you can actually cook. Both have to be evident or you’ll get thrown out.
The keyword there is “follow-through”. What makes for a pleasurable experience with your client is when you can deliver on your promise, or like Gordon Ramsay does, over-deliver. Forget cutting corners or using less effective alternatives. Act as if each client is paying for the very best and be prepared to give them just that.
Attention to Detail
Miss a detail and you better have a strong stomach and an ear for criticism, that’s all there is to it. Just when you think a chef has finally brought a well-cooked, qualified dish to the line, Chef Ramsay will inevitably find the one thing that’s wrong with it. Coincidentally, it’s the funniest part of the show, and it usually involves Ramsay turning around and shouting, “Not good enough” and taking the plate and throwing it into the garbage can.
I know what you’re thinking: “Why waste all that food over one tiny detail?” Yes. But unfortunately, when it comes down to it, we either create a quality product or we don’t – there is no gray area in between. Those little details that so often go overlooked can, in fact, be life or death for a business trying to successfully promote themselves online. It’s up to us as professional web designers to ask ourselves whether or not the product we’re about to deliver is “good enough”.
Focus on Customer
For those looking to go on the show in the future: Never be the chef that is responsible for a dinner guest returning an “unacceptable” dish back to the kitchen. It spells the end for you. Upsetting a dinner guest in Hell’s Kitchen is deadly.
There’s no denying Ramsay’s abilities to meet the needs and desires of his customers. It’s evident every time he refuses to send out a subpar dish or every instance he gets frustrated when a customer is displeased – the man is just passionate about pleasing his guests. Well, that’s precisely what we’re in business to do. We can create an uber creative website that fulfills our desires as designers, but if it doesn’t meet the client’s expectations, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. You ultimately don’t want your client to get a product that they don’t want. That can be deadly for your business and your reputation. Begin with a focus on what the customer is wanting you to do for them. Know their every need. Then, take your creative thoughts into the design and make that happen.
Every once in a while, you’ll notice a chef try and throw something together just to get it to the line in time. They always seem to have trouble balancing their duties, especially with Chef Ramsay in their face, scolding their every move. Somehow they have to get the work done quickly, but also make sure that the food is consistently cooked right with absolutely no detail overlooked. If not, it throws off the timing, puts the kitchen behind, and often results in dinner tables being left unserved. And, we’ve all been there to watch Ramsay’s reaction when it all goes wrong.
There’s a great lesson behind all the madness, and it touches on three things we should be doing with our work: Be thorough and consistent; get it done right the first time; and have it done in a timely manner. This is what Ramsay considers “service.” The sad truth is you often see one, two or three of those left out in business deals. Those three points should be printed out and placed above your workspace. If you follow those three guidelines, you will always create good business relationships. In essence, it makes the customer a cheerleader for you. Be efficient.