the sky floor

FAQ: Have you ever worked on X website before?

August 31, 2022

Have you ever worked on this type of website before? Not a question we field constantly, but it has come up often enough over the years that I’ve given the notion a lot of thought. 

The answer is often no. Even though we have tried to specialize in specific industries before, the market has never let us. To put it another way, we have launched several separate private sub-brands to serve just churches, nonprofits, or small service shops like plumbers and HVAC, and not one of them generated sales. 

As soon as we try to focus on a specific market, a client we can genuinely help in a completely different industry comes out of nowhere, and we work with them. Sorry specialization and market focus gurus, we tried and failed, and our business kept growing anyway. 

But this means we rarely have worked in the same industry twice. 

It got me thinking, is specific experience an indicator of future performance? I mean, if you are a brain surgeon, it probably does. But when it comes to design, websites, marketing, and other creative services, I think the answer is less clear. 

Dive in a Little Deeper

If you ask your plumber to install your new roof, the experience of having worked on homes before isn’t good enough. But if you want him to install a different style of water heater than he has before, chances are he can figure that one out.

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But let’s dive one level deeper. I think a less tangible type of experience is more important. A better question than “have you worked on X website before” is, have you creatively solved your client’s problems before? Or are you honest, friendly, and professional to work with? 

The truth is, when it comes to specific service tasks, we all have to start somewhere. Are you better off if you hunt for a vendor who has only made your type of website before but lacks other essential qualities? They will come with assumptions that may be outdated or harmful. Also, they had a first time working on it too!

Don’t get me wrong – sometimes you want the expert who has nailed the same project 100 times, especially if speed is an issue. But there is much to be said for working out new creative solutions with no pre-existing assumptions. 


  • There is a first time for everything.
  • Having a fresh take on something can help beat the competition. 
  • Look for category experience first, instead of specific experience. Ie. Get a roofer to work on your roof, but don’t worry if they’ve never roofed the exact pitch of your roof before.
  • Ask questions about experience that dig deeper into who a vendor is and how they act, not just what they do.