Don’t Start with the Solution [link]

Lego horse facing lego cart
Photo Credit ThatsABigIf / CC BY 2.5

I’m a long-time member of the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), so I jumped at the chance when I saw they were publishing guest posts for part of their Member Appreciation Month!

The theme for articles this month is “member best practices,” so I immediately knew I wanted to write about the “soft skills” best practices I’ve developed over my years building websites.

This new article is possibly the best summary of how I approach working with a new client. That relationship and communication is my “secret sauce” and affects the outcomes of projects as much as the design and tech work I do.

From the post:

In my work designing and developing websites for nonprofits in Seattle, I’ve spent countless meetings, emails, and phone calls ascertaining the website needs of my clients. Oftentimes, those needs don’t always align with the website features they say they want.

The lessons I’ve learned the hard way can help your organization avoid the mistakes I’ve made and make technology decisions that support your mission.


Identifying needs is a crucial task when making honest and sound technology decisions for your organization. Without doing so, you may find yourself investing staff time and precious resources on solutions that don’t help you achieve your mission.

So many times, people come to me asking for tech without explaining what they do and why they need that tech. It’s such a common problem, that NTEN’s CEO responded to my tweet about this post, asking:

I responded with what I think best explains the phenomena. To find out how I deal with it all, you’ll need to go read the full post over at NTEN.

“Horse Before Cart: Don’t start with the solution” on

(If I get enough readers visit, share, and comment on my post, they’ll repost the article in their quarterly journal!)

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