I’m often contacted after a client encounters a technology problem, searches for a solution, and implements it on their own. At this point their solution didn’t meet all their expectations. Does it have to be this way? No.

I understand that it’s tempting to type your question into a search window and jump straight to the first result.

Sometimes that’s a great solution.

Not always.

It’s important to evaluate the search result and determine if it is trustworthy, if it’s applicable, and if it’s something that fits within your skill set to implement.

3 steps to evaluate search results

  • Who authored the solution? Is it the creator of the software you are using (or plan to use)? They’re generally a good place to start. If it’s a blog post or support forum result, what can you quickly glean about the background and experience of the person who wrote it?
  • What version is it for? If no version is listed is there a date associated with the solution? How recent is it?
  • Can you implement it yourself? The point is for you to be self-sufficient and fix it yourself. Treat it like a new cooking recipe. Prepare first, gather what you need, then start cooking. Read through the solution. Do you know how to use all the tools mentioned? If a step asks to you run some SQL (for example), do you know how to do that?

If you’re stuck at any of these spots it doesn’t mean it’s automatically untrustworthy. Sometimes even if it’s an article that was paid for with a sponsorship or has affiliate links doesn’t mean it’s unreliable. I urge you to be mindful and work through.

If you want a second option, please contact me, and ask! If we have an existing relationship, we’ll figure out how to work it into our budget and what I’m already doing for you. If you’re a new client, we’ll find a solution that works for you!

Here’s a sample email:

I’m experiencing this problem: Briefly list/explain the issue.

I found this potential solution: Include link and why you think it’s helpful.

However, I’m concerned about: Express why you haven’t implemented it. There’s no wrong answer — potential reasons could be “I’m not sure how to run SQL I did it once years ago and forgot.” “I’m unsure if it would conflict because of this other thing I have.” “It says to do X, but I don’t see that.”

I try to respond timely during the standard work week (and if not in a few hours let you know when to expect a response).

Note: This is a 2021 update of a post initially published in 2011.