Monday, 29 September 2014

Getting Web Design Content From Client – How Difficult Is It?

It is all too common for web designers to have finished all other aspects of a web design but unable to launch the site due to unavailability of content, as the client somehow have been too busy to provide it on time. Though, in all probability they may have rushed you through the initial phases of the design process, as they required the website to be live on an urgent basis. When asked about content, they would conveniently tell you that it is being prepared, but the important thing right now is the design. It must be finished on time and that you could use Lorem Ipsum in place of the copy as of now. So how difficult is it getting web design content from clients?

Finally Design Confirmed! Where Is The Copy?

After going through numerous iterations and changes, the client is now happy with the website and all that is required is the content to make the site live. After all, you get paid at the time of site going live. But now you find that you cannot launch the site as the content is still not ready!

Don’t Be A Doormat – Gain Client’s Respect

This could happen to anyone; however it happens more frequently to designers and freelancers at the beginning of their career, when they have not yet mastered the art of dealing efficiently with clients. When starting out, they are quick to take up any projects that come their way. They usually offer design services at lower prices. With a next to nothing portfolio and lacking in confidence, they become easy prey that others (clients) can take advantage of. Here is a hilarous representation of what clients can do to you. But let us not paint all clients with the same brush here. Once you learn the tricks to identity the crazy ones and filter them out, then you start to appreciate both your client and the work you do for them. And in turn, the client appreciates you and your work too. It is a mutual respect that has to be there, when you work for someone, otherwise it is all too easy for the relationship to sour and things begin to go wrong.

Steps To Increase Your Chances Of Getting Web Design Content From Client

Okay, we are discussing how we can get the contents from the client on time. There is no magic rule here but a combination of many. In my opinion, unavailability of content is the number one factor preventing successful completion of projects within the time-frame or deadline you have set for the project. Continuously failing to complete projects on time not only lowers the morale of the designer but also puts survival at risk. It is a very competitive market out there and you need to be smart to survive. I am listing below a few of the factors that are vital in creating an amicable working relationship with your client, so that he understands and respects you for who you are, a web design professional.

Educate Your Client:

I believe education is the most important part in setting client’s expectations. It is vital to let the client know the steps involved in the web design process and the role content play in each of these steps. Why lack of content in the beginning can cause you to go back to the initial stages again, which will cost you time; and time is money.

Set Milestones:

Many people don’t do it. In the beginning, we did not do this too. But we have found that setting milestones is a great way to set responsibility both for you and for the client. We specify actual dates against each milestone. We go as far as specifying, “Getting All Content From Client” as a milestone. We also specify that if content is not received within the timeframe mentioned against this milestone, it would not be possible to move ahead to the next milestone. The client knows from day one that he needs to provide content before a certain date; otherwise, the design process would halt. Since the process is outlined from the beginning, and the client’s expectation is set, there is a high probability that the client would provide all material within the time specified.

Outline All Required Content To The Client:

Don’t leave it to the guesswork of the client on what all content is required for the site. You design websites every day; the client does not. Possibly it is the first time he is getting a website created. List all the content required as an ordered list, so that he can easily figure out what is required from him. Be sure to give him sufficient time to get the required content.

Send Regular Polite Reminders:

Suppose you have set the milestone for content as one week from the start of the project. It is important to send polite reminders on the remaining content on a regular basis. It is important to let client know what has been provided to you and what else is still missing. Don’t just stop work after a week complaining that you don’t have the content. Rather, work with your client with a genuine intent on helping him create the content for the site in a timely manner.

Content Can Help You Create A Better Layout:

Let the client know that having the content during the initial stages of the design process would help you create better layout for the site. It would let you plan ahead on how the homepage should be structured. Come to think of it, how can you really design without knowing how much content should go into different sections of the homepage? Getting content during the final stages of the design process runs the risk of redesign or restructuring of the site again. After all, what is the point of having gone through all the stages if you ultimately have to start from the beginning again? That is why I say content is so important and should be made available during the early stages of the design phase. If this is properly intimated to the client, there is a big chance that he would make additional efforts to get the content in time as the design would be directly impacted.

Offer Help Creating Content:

It is possible that the client is super busy and really does not have time to get involved in the process of creating content for the site. You could offer to create content for an additional fee. If the client agrees, then you could do it yourself, if you have the talent and time for it; otherwise simply outsource it to other content writers. This way, you help your client and yourself by finishing the design project in time.

Conclusion:

Let the client know that you are a professional and that your time is valuable. You should genuinely be willing to help the customer get a better site for himself; and you should also know where to put the foot down and say no to illegitimate demands. Avoid going overboard and helping the client with things and request outside the scope of your duty. You make yourself look like a fool when you do that. Once you know how to present yourself, your professional attitude and behaviour will convey the message that you mean business. All this, coupled with some of the steps given above will surely help you set a better working relationship with your client and hopefully also get you content on time.

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