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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Receiving content from clients

    What strategies and/or techniques has your design firm employed to encourage your clients to send you their content so you can finish their Web site projects on time? Is this a common problem?
    Joanne Glasspoole
    www.glasspoole.com

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard creole's Avatar
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    One of the most common problems around. The client never truly understand the intricacies of web design. Most of them think that you can just type a few words on a page and presto, our pops a highly interactive, dynamic website!

    The best thing to do is to pad your times a bit. When providing a timeframe to your customer, it's a good idea to add an extra 10-20% time onto the skeleton. If you think the project will take you about 4 weeks to complete then tell THEM it will take about 5 weeks. Make it even more if that client has a history of lateness.

    Or, if you're more structured, then add milestones into your contract (you ARE using a contract right?). Make it clear to the client that to reach Y milestone on time you need items A,B,C and F by X date. Also make it clear to them that if those items are not received by that date then the entire project risks being late.

    One last thing, make it abundantly clear that if the project runs over through no fault of your own, then they are the ones responsible for additional costs associated with the tardiness of the project.
    Adobe Certified Coldfusion MX 7 Developer
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  3. #3
    Serial Publisher silver trophy aspen's Avatar
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    Horrible horrible problem. They wait for weeks and give you nothing and then they give you everything and expect it to be done within 3 days.
    Chris Beasley - I publish content and ecommerce sites.
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  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    Well, we've been burned so many times by this we included it in our contract. Whether or not they give us their content, and whether or not their site is complete, they pay the remainder of their estimate in 30 days.

    The faster they get us information, the faster we can get done with the site.

    We have just started using a questionnaire, which we give clients before we even get started on development. I'm hoping this will help alleviate the content issue, because if they fill it out correctly it should be enough content to develop a site (as long as photos/logos are attached)

  5. #5
    SitePoint Zealot Jason_Therrien's Avatar
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    Howdy!

    It makes me feel better than I'm not the only one seeing this! Like Beley said, we put clauses into our contract about this sort of thing and if they don't follow through then we'll bill them. That usually gets their attention.

    I have found that if you are meeting face-to-face with a company, and don't know when you will be back, then try to get as much information on them before you leave. Gather brochures, talk to as many people in the organization as you can and interview them as to what they would like to see said about them in the site.

    We usually just ask for a bulleted list, broken down by how we are segmenting the Website, listing the important features on each page. We then will weave these points together in some sort of content to alleviate the time lag.

    GOOD LUCK!!

    Jason
    www.SmartWebBusiness.com
    Where "smart" businesses learn about the Web.

  6. #6
    Xbox why have you forsaken me? moospot's Avatar
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    Originally posted by aspen
    Horrible horrible problem. They wait for weeks and give you nothing and then they give you everything and expect it to be done within 3 days.
    That about sums up my experiences with contract clients. It's like one big Dilbert cartoon.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Guru phanie12.geo's Avatar
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    After an initial meeting or telephone discussion and the contract has been signed and the inital 50% deposit has been paid, we provide the client with a New Site Design Guide. This document is about 10 pages and it spells out exactly what we need to fully develop the site from start to finish. Things like meta tage, exact colors, email addresses, text for each page, images for each page...you get the idea.

    We tell them in the document that the site development will not begin until all the information requested in the documnet is given to us and it must be given to us at the same time, not in bits and peices. Of course, we tell them that this is to their benefit so important items don't get lost. We say it takes 4-6 weeks to complete the site from the time that all the data has been submitted. That time frame is just to cover ourselves. You'd be surprised how qucikly the site gets built once you have done it this way. And of course, we are very nice about how we word this and go about it so it doesn't come off too brutal.

  8. #8
    grasshoppa Snowbird122's Avatar
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    Wow - great idea. A "New Site Design Guide". I wish I would have thought of that one. I am having a horrible time with this problem. I made a detailed timetable for the clients that showed on what dates they were to provide what. They have not followed it a bit.

    Does anyone else use the new site design guide technique? Does it work?
    http://www.echo-consulting.net - Sound Solutions for Online Inspriations.

  9. #9
    SitePoint Evangelist AlexC's Avatar
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    Anyone have an example of one of these guides?
    Nearly 7 years old!

  10. #10
    Skills to Pay the Bills Sparkie's Avatar
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    Design Guide

    I use one for most of my web design work. It's basically a 10-page design guide that goes over what will be done and a general time frame to expect it in. Like what was said above, we generally say "we'll need items A, B, and C, in X days/weeks after the project has begun"..and so on. It makes the whole process go a lot more smoothly! Plus you can get the site finished on, or even before, the scheduled delivery date. And that really makes the client happy

  11. #11
    SitePoint Guru hurtdidit's Avatar
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    That design guide idea is awesome! Anyone have any sites or articles I could check out for sample questions/points to include in the creation of one for myself??

    It'd be much appreciated!!

    "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world.
    Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    Though I think it's a great idea (having never considered it myself), and would also love to see such a Guide, we go a different route.

    We have 10 forms we use, and we go into the client's offices and spend 3-4 days (all day) going through these specsheets in a series of "workshops". These workshops walk them through all the information we need for IA, UI, everything really.

    It's a bit cumbersome but the main purpose (to be perfectly honest) is to get the "we want" and "can we just try" out, and the "what's best for our clients" in. After having spent 4 days in boot camp, most companies don't come back and "just want to try".

    I'm doing an experiment now without these documents and let me tell you, it's a nightmare in comparison. With these the whole site can be done fairly quickly, it's like a dream.

    Still, I'd love to see the New Site Guide, for those times when I can't spend 3-4 days with the client, or don't feel like flying down

    btw, here are those docs: http://server2.tacf.org/examples/projectdocs.zip Feel free to use, but please don't forward on as these are for sale normally, but I provide them free to the SitePoint community.
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
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    Twitter: @jeremywright

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy
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    I too would like to see that guide. Anyone that has done something like that... I'd really like to take a look at one. My email is beley@mac.com for anyone who wants to send one.

    I have a "questionnaire" but it's so long that it often intimidates clients, and hardly ever gets filled out in its entirety. I had thought about making a "Guide to Developing Your Company's Website" to give to both potential and current clients detailing how to choose a web developer and host, what questions to ask, what information to get together, etc.

    I'm just lazy and haven't yet started anything

  14. #14
    grasshoppa Snowbird122's Avatar
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    wow - 4 days with the clients! I often find that the client has a hard time making time for me. Maybe I am not setting myself up to be as important as I should be. I often make an appointment with the client a week in advance. I go to their place and try to discuss their website. We get interrupted, and they swith focus to other immediate things, and then back on me. I'm lucky if I can get 1 free hour with clients. Jeremy, I don't know how you get 32 hours of their time.

    Any advice?
    http://www.echo-consulting.net - Sound Solutions for Online Inspriations.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    They all want sites like Yahoo, Chapters, Amazon, Honda, etc.

    Yet they don't want to put in the time.

    A fair and firm reminder that anything of true quality takes time and planning (often going over their product line will help remind them) and reminding them that this will be their most accessed front door (more than their reception area) will often have them seeing things the right way.

    As I said though, it doesn't always work which is why I have the workshop details in writing as well.
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
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  16. #16
    SitePoint Enthusiast RogueJedi's Avatar
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    Wow, these forms are excellent. Can we use these, or were they just provided as an example?
    Rob Nolan
    Do or do not, there is no try.

  17. #17
    SitePoint Wizard silver trophy Jeremy W.'s Avatar
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    Use, don't distribute, if you're going to use for a commercial project pay the 50$. It's worth it
    SVP Marketing, SoCast SRM
    Personal blog: Strategerize
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Guru hurtdidit's Avatar
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    I'm still hoping someone will be able to offer some suggestions for the "guide" that was brought up...I think that would be more applicable for us smaller developers.

    "A small group of thoughtful people could change the world.
    Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead

  19. #19
    SitePoint Enthusiast RogueJedi's Avatar
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    Thanks, Jeremy. I wish I had something like this 3 weeks ago.
    Rob Nolan
    Do or do not, there is no try.

  20. #20
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    Yes, some great ideas have been posted.

    I do the 50% up front.

    Have a contract.

    Don't put the site on their domain till it's fully paid for.

    Don't start till you receive the text and/or whatever other info you're supposed to receive.

    Have a late fee for any re-writes and make sure it's spelled out in the contract how much this charge will be and/or how you may have to hold up completing the site to to other business contracts.

    Make sure that one person is responsible for getting you the text and that their name is in the contract, too.


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