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  1. #1
    Confirmed Halfwit
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    I am building a website for a client who doesn't really know what he wants. Here's an example, they finally gave me the content for the "contact us" page.. and it's nothing but the name/position/phone/email of three company managers. No text, no "We'd love to hear from you." No request for a feedback form.. or anything else.

    They don't know what they want for colours, they don't have a clue what sort of graphics they want, and they expect me to do all the content rewrites, arranging paragraphs, etc.

    So.. my question to all you people who do this for money is, "How far do you go?"

    I quoted a set price for the job, and it's a fair, reasonable price.. but they haven't kept up their end of the deal by providing content, etc..

    What should I do? Am I incorrect in expecting them to provide complete content that is already formatted, etc..? (ie: specify what should be bolded, italics, where paragraph breaks are..)

    Thanks,
    Henri.
    - A simple online WYSIWYG editor for HTML code snippets.
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  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot
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    i dont do this for $$,
    but I'm pretty sure i have an idea of how this works.
    you're exactly right.
    you're a WEBDESIGNER, NOT an EDITOR, WRITER, and THEIR COMPANY MANAGER put together

  3. #3
    Confirmed Halfwit
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    That's exactly it. The problem is that it makes me look bad because they want to go live with what's there.. and it stinks because the pages are full of little one page sentences that I wrote as filler.. expecting them to actually provide content instead.

    Part of me says "who cares, as long as I'm paid".. but it makes a website that I designed look really crappy. And I am trying to have pride in my work.
    - A simple online WYSIWYG editor for HTML code snippets.
    - Managed Web Hosting - $3.95/month (resellers welcome)
    - Why pay more? $8.95 domains & $9.95 SSL certificates!

  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot
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    hey, can you help me with this:
    http://www.sitepointforums.com/showt...threadid=14402
    ??

    thanx

  5. #5
    SitePoint Enthusiast Jackman's Avatar
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    Hello Henri

    Hope all is well and all the best for the New Year.

    The good news is that your problem is a very common one.
    The bad news is it's also a very tricky one.

    Because the net is a relatively new medium the vast
    majority of our clients have no idea on what their site
    should have or do.

    You want to provide a sensational site, that looks great,
    has beautiful graphics and heaps of well-written content.
    As you've seen in my others posts we get a huge amount of
    our business via referrals and that doesn't happen with
    typos, badly written content, and an ugly site.

    None of our clients has the experience to develop the
    content as effectively as possible - for example, bullet
    points are far more easily read and comprehended than big
    chunks of text.

    We bit the bullet a while ago and provide the complete site
    to the client - from copywriting to graphics to formatting
    to web site marketing. Of course if you do all this your
    price needs to go up to reflect this. And then you have
    the problem of being far more expensive than the
    competition - but you are providing a significantly more
    valuable service. You just have to demonstrate that to the
    client.

    Hope this helps Henri.

    Regards

    Jackman

  6. #6
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Henri,

    You sound like a very professional Web designer, and I admire your dedication to creating high quality sites. I also understand your frustration because you're adding credentials/examples to your portfolio and your current project doesn't reflect your true potential because you don't have much to work with. Have you talked to these people about what it is you need from them in order to do your job? Can you consolidate some of the content to fill out the pages until there is more content filtered your way?

    If your client is satisfied with the product and doesn't have the intention to put more effort into developing content, etc., there's not much you can do unless you want to do it yourself, which I gather you're not inclined to do. And, I don't blame you.

    All you can do is design the site the best you can with what you've got. The end result isn't a bad reflection of your work. And if the site fails, it's not your fault. However, you need to communicate your concerns to your client so that they don't blame you if things don't go as well with their site as they hope.

    Finally, if you're really dissatisified with the end result, chalk it up as a job done, but don't promote it. I did a site last November that sucked. I used the client's graphics, background, content, etc. and they even told me how they wanted the pages layed out. I did it the way they wanted it -- not the way I would have done it. I was not happy with the product, so you know what, I took my name of the site and don't promote it on my portfolio. The client, they were happy, so that's what's important.

    Good luck to you,
    Joanne Glasspoole
    www.glasspoole.com

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard westmich's Avatar
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    Originally posted by hstraf
    They don't know what they want...

    I quoted a set price for the job, and it's a fair, reasonable price..
    How do you know its a fair price if they don't know what it is they want or what it is you need to do?

    I think best advice I've heard is to get clear, measurable goals from your client. You need to know where your ending point is before you begin. They need to know that you accomplished what they had asked for.

    Is there a mission or purpose statement? Do you have something to serve as a compass or benchmark before you begin? Web sites can become as complex and expensive as a home or a bridge, yet, I don't think any engineer would break ground without a clear set of plans. A Web site shouldn't be any different.
    Westmich
    Smart Web Solutions for Smart Clients
    http://www.mindscapecreative.com

  8. #8
    SitePoint Zealot Brian Farkas's Avatar
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    I agree with everything that's been said.
    Usually, it is the client's responsibility to provide the content that they want on each of the pages. They should provide it formatted as they want it displayed, and they should also provide a "final draft", meaning that they don't want to change all the content on the page every few days.

    Of course, some minor changes are normal- but you do have to draw the line somewhere. I try to make it clear to all of our clients that we are here to design their user interface, and generally make their page look good with the content they proide us. I try to make sure that they understand that they will be responsible for providing the content properly formatted in a digital format.. When I first started I did a site for the client that sent me all the text they wanted to use via postal mail- I had to type it all in. Needless to say, I learned from that experience .

    Also, you will want to relay to your client that it is BETTER for them if you do not provide the text. Who better to write about their business then themselves? Even though you should try as much as possible to get an understanding of who they are, what they do, and the inner "soul" of the company, you can't be expected to write their content for them.

    Henri, you sound like you're doing a good job. Keep up the good work, and always make sure you do a great job communicating with the client as to what their responsibility is and what your responsibility is. Good luck!

    Brian Farkas
    Brian Farkas
    InterSurge, LLC :: Seriously Fun Hosting (tm)
    http://www.intersurge.com/

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard westmich's Avatar
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    Let me add one other comment.

    I am not saying that you as a Web designer can not decide on colors or create content. It's just that it needs to be clear in the beginning if that is part of the job.
    Westmich
    Smart Web Solutions for Smart Clients
    http://www.mindscapecreative.com

  10. #10
    imagine no limitations exbabylon's Avatar
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    What I do is talk with the client, find out what he want, and then agree on a set price... included in that is the re-writing and imphasizing of text. I have gone through several classes in internet and print advertising, and content presentation. With the site all I ask is that I get the printed material in some form. Jackman's legal forms were a great aid in this, but I already have been doing this. If it's in hand written format then I charge more of course, but that's all agreed upon before I start. I do not expect a typed format with bold etc. That's in the price.

    I will not make a site that is below perfect, so I will sometimes put in a little extra time, to get a good reputation built up. Which it sounds like you are trying to gain also.

    God Bless
    Blamestorming: Sitting around in a group discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed and who was responsible.

    Exbabylon- Professional Internet Services

  11. #11
    ********* Addict jaiem's Avatar
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    All good comments. I'd just add that if you think the content provided by the client is a little weak in one area or another you can mention to the client is it's OK for you to add a little more "body" to the weak parts. They'll probably go for it.

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  12. #12
    Irritability Defined
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    I would like to compliment everyone who's responded in this thread with some excellent well thought out answers. Each of you have received what little karma I can contribute

    The most frustrating thing to me as a web developer is a client who quite frankly does not have a clue about what they want the site to look like. I for one like to work within boundaries or concepts offered by the client and find that my work comes out much better (particularly considering I'm more of a pure coder than graphic designer).

    That said, I work on two mottos :

    "The client is right 99% of the time."

    and

    "If that 1% pops up, then let them suffer the consequences and move on".

    Although I don't really like to leave certain companies in the lurch, if they have utterly no clue or try and go against all your advice, then it really is no use trying to counter them - produce the work, get the money and leave. It saves a lot of heartache in the long run and I don't associate my name with the site. Of course when they ring up 3 months later to complain I simply point to all the documentation I made and say "You wanted it".
    My 2 Cents (or is that 2.2 Cents including GST?)


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