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Re: OUT ON A LIMB: Showing Sample Documents on My Company Website

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Bill Polhemus wrote:

I want some opinions here.

While in the midst of the worst "work slump" I've experienced in my five years in the biz, and being down with the 24-Hour Bug thing, I have just spent several hours (between naps) updating my website.

Part of this you can attribute to "desperation" but I have decided to put some "sample documents" including reports and drawings up on the "Project Experience" part of the site as a sort of "cyber-portfolio." The advantage of the web, of course, is that you can provide as much information via links as anyone might possibly ever want to know, but they don't have to immerse themselves if they don't want.

But I'm worried about "liability issues," of course. Having the "bug" generally ups my paranoia level beyond "normal" anyway, but I do think that a picture (or a drawing or a report) is worth a thousand words.

I recall several years ago becoming aware that, at least in the industrial environment most factory and plant managers will *not* allow you to take photographs--or they reserve the right to review the photos before you take them away. Their concern is that something inadvertently might be revealed--say an OSHA violation--that could cause them trouble.

I'd like anyone here who's interested to view my site and tell me what you think. Is the risk worth it to let people know my capabilities? Or is it that my documents "stink" to the extent that it's probably better NOT to show them? Or are there other potential legal liability issues?

FWIW, the documents are in PDF format and I've made it where they cannot be altered or saved--you might want to check that out for me as well. BUT they can be viewed in all their gory details including client name, etc.

I can always redact some of this stuff I suppose, but really this is no different than giving "references" for clients.

Let me know what you think. I'm really rather desperate to be able to direct prospects to the site and see what I have to offer, but will it do more harm than good? Running a fever of 99.5F, the paranoia's definitely there.

What medication did you say you were on for the cold? Seriously - I did the same sort of thing between Thanksgiving and New years when it typically slows down here. Fortunately, it has picked up again. However, let me say that there are any number of reason's why you are in a slump. The real question is; how are the other professionals in your area holding up. If everyone is scrambling for work and only the "old-timers" who have already developed a long time relationship with clients have work - then you just might be experiencing an economic change in the growth of your area. La Quinta California was in a slump in the mid 90's - we hit bottom and most homes sat. The city enticed new merchants and put the money into developing our shopping and resources for winter visitors. Ours is a vacation resort type of community that is slowly building into a much larger full-time living. The downside is that most of the newer up-scale restaurants and shopping are simply too expensive for most of the full time family's that live here. For example, we created a "new" "old town" and it is drawing visitors (and traffic). However, one visit to Stuft Pizza where we had a salad, my wife a thin veggie pizza and I a Chicken Parmesan and we both had soft drinks - $60.00 for the two of us with nothing to bring home. This is outrageous for what is touted a family restaurant. The Hogs Breath Inn is another new one that we found to be owned by Clint Eastwood. Arnold Palmer's steak house - where are the family restaurants?

Sorry - I'm off topic. The first point is whether or not you are the result of your "slump" or if it is something that is the result of an economic change (developers not proceeding with projects, commercial structures holding back for fear of interest rates or ability to lease properties). The website is an excellent way for each of us to "gage" the completeness of the work that our peers do. It is a peer comparison rather than a peer review.

I think we each aspire to provide as clear and concise a document as possible, but let's not forget that this is a business and there are also many out there who will streamline or be willing to walk a narrow line.

Finally - there is diversity. When custom homes drop off, I do remodels or reports or seismic retrofit and/or evaluation's for older cities that may have the funds to restore their communities that may be going through gentrification. Even the weather (we have had over 12-inches of rain since January 1 when our typical annual rainfall is less than one inch) plays into the equation.

I'll be happy to look at your site and maybe some of us with sites and Blogs can link our sites together so when visitors come to one they are more able to find the information they want on your links.


P.S.  - What is the link?

*Dennis S. Wish, PE*
*California Professional Engineer
Structural Engineering Consultant

760.564.0884 (office - fax)

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