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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru pinch's Avatar
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    Consulting Practices

    I have always been curious as to how web designers handle the planning stage with their clients. Do you demand that your client has all the various components of content up front? The first site I'm designing is a fantasy site for my father and the only thing he really knows is he wants a website. I could sit for days with him and discuss the site but get nowhere while he thinks of things here and there to add.

    I'm sure consulting time is just as variable as any other time, so is there an understanding that client must have his ideas laid out, and that all pertinent materials must be provided beforehand?

  2. #2
    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
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    From my experience site content always comes last. Once a contract is in place, I will make a few mock-up designs. Finalize one with the client and then build the site. Usually, the client waits until the last minute to come up with actual content for the site and unless you are being paid for that, it isn't your job. Just make sure you stipulate somewhere that if all content is not received within 30 days of site completion, they need to pay you.
    Sara

  3. #3
    SitePoint Guru pinch's Avatar
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    But if wait until last to worry about content, how do you ensure your menu structure is sufficient to handle their content. Or is the menu structure also not your responsibility? How do you ensure everything will fit?

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    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
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    Usually, the number and type of pages are defined prior to building the site, it is just hard to come up with the content to fill those pages. For example, if I did a website for a realtor, I can easily brainstorm a list of pages that he would need. Then I could look at other realtor's sites and see what they include. Then I can give this list to the client and have him approve or disapprove of different pages.

    What does your Dad do? My first website was for my dad too. That is probably how most people started, by doing sites for family and friends. They are usually the worst clients too 8)
    Sara

  5. #5
    SitePoint Guru pinch's Avatar
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    The site was actually my idea. My dad runs a fantasy NASCAR league in my home town. There are 34 members and they meet each week and get drunk and pick drivers. I am a computer engineer but didn't learn any web development in college, so I figured I could get my feet wet developing a site for his league.

    I designed a back-end interface using mySQL and PHP that allows him to enter in the weekly draft results and the weekly race finishes, then based on their league rules (which I learned are not very well defined themselves), the statistics, money owed, records, etc are automatically generated and available on the league site. Right now my dad enters everything info a spreadsheet and figures everything by hand, then e-mails the spreadsheets to everyone so this is quite an upgrade. To say he would be a bad client would be an understatement.

    He's now trying to recruit me to design a pay NASCAR fantasy site. Every time I ask him for his business plan he insists its all in his head, and we're going to make millions. Of course he refuses to do any research or learn any of the process himself, he "likes to figure things out by trial and error" and when I point out that I'll be the one who will be up all night designing the site he declares "time doesn't cost anything". I don't know whether to hit him up-side the head or just laugh.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    The topic at hand (as I understand your inquiry) is generally called "Information Architecture", and the problem you are encoutering is a common one in site planning. Read a horror story if you like.

    Here's some links that deal with this field:
    Boxes and Arrows
    IAwiki
    Argus Associates: Information Architecture Glossary
    Wikipedia: Information Architecture
    Using your unpaid time to add free content to SitePoint Pty Ltd's portfolio?

  7. #7
    SitePoint Guru pinch's Avatar
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    Thats a nice write-up samsm, after dealing with my dad I hope it can only get better. Thanks for the links also.


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