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  1. #1
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    Content for Client's Website

    Dear all,

    I don't normally go to this area of the forum, so if anybody does not know me, "hi!".

    I have this small problem that has been eating away at me for a while. Not even sure if I posted this at the right place, if not feel free to move this. So here we go:

    Clients normally provide content on the website's. Unfortunately much of the content clients provide is not designed for use online. As such, how on earth would a web designer guide them through the process.

    I have seen a few companies advertising that they do this. Not sure how one would nanny the clients through this. Surely if I start writing what I think, or better yet get a content writer, the client will disapprove, as in his mind he would know what content he wants to put.

    If anybody knows how, or what this
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    in his mind he would know what content he wants to put.
    That's not my experience. Usually they haven't got a clue, and need help with that, so you can either help them or encourage them to get a writer involved. If they do supply content that's not up to scratch, you can encourage them to get it tidied up. Presumably they will want it to look professional, and it can be optimized for search engine findability too. If they don't care about this, it's their funeral.

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    Surely if I start writing what I think, or better yet get a content writer, the client will disapprove, as in his mind he would know what content he wants to put.
    Seems like you have everything all figured out -- and all without testing an assumption or actually working with a content writer at all.

    Those other companies must just be foolin'.

    Honestly, you've already decided what you're not going to do. Stop bothering people doing what you say is impossible.

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    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCrux View Post
    Seems like you have everything all figured out -- and all without testing an assumption or actually working with a content writer at all.

    Those other companies must just be foolin'.

    Honestly, you've already decided what you're not going to do. Stop bothering people doing what you say is impossible.

    Now, now DCrux. Let's look at this from a different perspective. As a writer, I would certainly want my work presented within a crummy design rather than risk offending my client or making any other suggestion as to what might get him conversions instead of page views and back-outs.

    To the OP: If a client can't write good copy -- if his visitors don't get his message -- then what use does he have for a website?

    I don't believe you can "guide" a poor writer "through the process". Let your clients know why they need help and then help them get it. If you need backup, Google copy writers. You'll find an encyclopedia of reasons for hiring writers who are experienced in writing content for the web.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

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    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Sega, if their content is not designed properly for readability online, it's either up to you (as the designer) to make the changes required to prepare it ready for the web or you should pay someone else (such as a copywriter or content writer) to do the job for you (and then include that in the bill). Some people may disagree here but I maintain that information design is a critical part of UX and therefore part of the web designers job - not necessarily writing it but making it web friendly. You don't need the content writer to do the writing FOR them, you could just hire them to proof read, optimize and structure it for the required purpose - that's not changing their intent, it's just improving their message... and that's a critical part of the process (if you can't do it, best to bring in the professionals).

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexDawson View Post
    it's either up to you (as the designer) to make the changes required to prepare it ready for the web or you should pay someone else (such as a copywriter or content writer) to do the job for you (and then include that in the bill).
    All that has to be approved by the client first, though. It's not really fair (or wise) just to drop it into the bill without warning. The mantra oft repeated by my more experienced colleague is "educate the client, educate the client..."

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    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    I'm not suggesting he just dump it silently into the bill, but educating a client who isn't equipped to write for the web to-do so is going to sap time, money and energy... why not teach them web design while you're at it. There's only so far you can acceptably go in educating a client before you're getting them a degree!

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    Seems like I kicked up a fuss without realizing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph.m
    If they don't care about this, it's their funeral.
    To some degree yes, but from a professional point of view it's best if this was done properly. A client once give me 2,000 words to go in a single web-page. I asked him to simplify, he simplified as much as could be, but it was still in excess of 1000 words. Since I already put the quote together for a number of pages I could not really go back and ask him for more
    money, so I did the best I could be separating the content and referring it with internal anchor points.

    Quote Originally Posted by ShyFlower
    To the OP: If a client can't write good copy -- if his visitors don't get his message -- then what use does he have for a website?
    There is little point in having a website which cannot get it's message accross. It's best if things are done as efficiently as possible.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Dawson
    You don't need the content writer to do the writing FOR them, you could just hire them to proof read, optimize and structure it for the required purpose - that's not changing their intent, it's just improving their message... and that's a critical part of the process (if you can't do it, best to bring in the professionals).
    Completely agreed. I am not the best at checking English. Even here I have to double check something before posting it, nevermind for professional use. Thanks.

    There's only so far you can acceptably go in educating a client before you're getting them a degree!



    Now copy-writing and writing for search engines is completely different? There will be one copy for the final web page/site, and would this not need to be SEO friendly with keywords density and so forth? How would one go about that. I would not think copywriters would know this.

    Apologies I have not yet worked with a copy-writer, so most of this is new to me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexDawson View Post
    educating a client who isn't equipped to write for the web to-do so is going to sap time, money and energy... why not teach them web design while you're at it.
    What I meant was to educate them about the importance of well written, optimized copy on the web. I didn't mean you should teach them how to write.

  10. #10
    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post

    Apologies I have not yet worked with a copy-writer, so most of this is new to me.
    Apparently not. There are many copy writers today who specialize in writing copy for business web sites and web-based businesses.
    Linda Jenkinson
    "Say what you mean. Mean what you say. But don't say it mean." ~Unknown

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    We've covered this issue into the ground.

    I could not really go back and ask him for more money, so I did the best I could be separating the content and referring it with internal anchor points.
    Aside from the obvious "why not," one big reason for this is the probable default: You have nothing whatsoever to to with written content.

    It doesn't matter if it is writing, or logo design, or whatever. If a certain service -- we're talking about a naturally occurring obvious service -- isn't mentioned as being handled in some way by you during site construction, then it will become an issue.

    Sooner or later, the client will hand you the work and lean on you to do it for free. And the game they'll play is "I assumed it was included with the site."

    When you include a content writer and/or copy writer, two things happen. First you're not an individual who can be pressured so easily, you come off looking more like a team or web shop.

    Next you show how important content is. Writing is not some weird kind of "don't ask, don't tell" issue you just hope goes away. Deal with it on the site and there will be a lot less wiggle room for issues regarding who handles content in future.

    If content drives design decisions -- if the whole project is content driven and you explain that on your site -- you get less procrastination and prevarication.

    Finally try portraying the business as content driven. Not Jquery driven. Not Flash driven. Not gimmick driven. Address and portray written content as paramount in importance and you'll get writers who will actually want to work with you.

    Treat writing as an unwanted, unforeseen calamity you have to deal with and expect writers to flee.

    Apologies I have not yet worked with a copy-writer, so most of this is new to me.
    Copy driven site design is really a different mindset and world view. Many copywriters may regularly get two or three (or more) times what you charge for the whole site. Understand that and you may be working with a copywriter in future. Expect any copywriter worth their salt to want the design to support the copy, with specific "dos" and "don't" that go against most of what you have come to expect about web site design.

    When you run ten of fifteen split-run tests to prove out exactly what drives results, then you may dictate "copy goes here" and hand off your design to a copywriter. When the copywriter gets paid $2,000 for one page of text ...no markup. ...no CSS. ....no layout. You don't edit. You don't tell them to keep it short because the lore of the 'net says people don't read.

    Save that for the keyword stuffer content writers you hire off Craigslist to spam Google with.

    When they person is getting paid from four to ten times more for the text than the whole rest of the site, you listen to every single syllable that comes out of that copywriter's mouth. Otherwise I practically guarantee you will not be working with a copywriter (no matter what they decide to call themselves.)

    Any copywriters you would want to work with work on a different kind of site, and with a different kind of client, who expects a different kind of deliverable.


    Related:

    What to Do if the Client Won't Give Content

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    @DCrux

    Thanks for the information.

    When the copywriter gets paid $2,000 for one page of text
    Sounds like a good job. Does seem a bit much though. Typically a translator get's paid 10p per word, would something not apply for a copywriter.
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    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    Now copy-writing and writing for search engines is completely different? There will be one copy for the final web page/site, and would this not need to be SEO friendly with keywords density and so forth? How would one go about that. I would not think copywriters would know this.
    The idea about using a web copywriter is to product copy for real people not search engines.

    If you use a good web copywriter you won't need to worry about "keywords density" and all the other SEO fads, because what they write will all be relevent, on topic and aimed at the type of visitors you expect, including getting the right information in search results.

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    SitePoint Zealot Spartinman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluedreamer View Post
    The idea about using a web copywriter is to product copy for real people not search engines.

    If you use a good web copywriter you won't need to worry about "keywords density" and all the other SEO fads, because what they write will all be relevent, on topic and aimed at the type of visitors you expect, including getting the right information in search results.
    So true BUT... they tend to cost a lot also don't they?

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    To be fair we always have to think about the clients, and many clients are not willing to through even 200 euros on content for the page, let alone 2,000.
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    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    To be fair we always have to think about the clients, and many clients are not willing to through even 200 euros on content for the page, let alone 2,000.
    And the reason for that is because designer's make content seem secondary to the client. They like to imply that the website design can do it all for the business, but without content the web design is only an empty picture frame.

    Still, I do agree that $2,000 per page is a stiff figure and probably too stiff for many Mom and Pop shops that are looking to establish a small, but respectable web presence.

    Not all good content writers command 2,000 anything per page. If you want Michael Fortin or Bob Bly, be prepared to pay for their expertise (and I don't have any idea what they really charge). However, there are many skilled and talented copy writers that fall well below that figure but still above the copy/paste, chew it up and spit it out crowd.
    Linda Jenkinson
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    To be fair we always have to think about the clients, and many clients are not willing to through even 200 euros on content for the page, let alone 2,000.
    You failed to understand what I wrote. Be prepared for an entirely different clientele. And very different types of web design.

    It's a different world. If you have never been paid 2,000, you can't imagine anyone else being paid 2,000.

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    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spartinman View Post
    So true BUT... they tend to cost a lot also don't they?
    No, they tend to reward the wise client who invests in good content with conversions that result in a quick, stronger ROI.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shyflower View Post
    No, they tend to reward the wise client who invests in good content with conversions that result in a quick, stronger ROI.
    I suppose if you had much of the content re-written out, in a well written manner. I would think it might cost less.

    I agree with your comments completely "content is king". Having said this though, content writers will need to be supplied something so they can rectify the way it's said.

    You failed to understand what I wrote. Be prepared for an entirely different clientele. And very different types of web design.
    I get what your saying. It's like a Mini vs an Aston Martyn. So basically the clients who will be looking into this service would in-fact be prepared to pay a lot more for their website.
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    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy bluedreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spartinman View Post
    So true BUT... they tend to cost a lot also don't they?
    If you had a choice between spending $$$ on a flashy "design" and $$$ on copywriting, I know which one I'd choose - the copywriting - because at the end of the day that is the most important element of any site.

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    Follow: @AlexDawsonUK silver trophybronze trophy AlexDawson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sega View Post
    To be fair we always have to think about the clients, and many clients are not willing to through even 200 euros on content for the page, let alone 2,000.
    To be fair (in retort), if you're being cheap when it comes to the content, you're not thinking about your clients (or their visitors and customers) best interests. The problem is that far too many designers downplay the importance of content and the written word, yet if a site didn't have anything to read and was nothing but fluff and eye candy... people would never visit a website. As a UX designer I would much rather spend money increasing the ID (Information Design) to ensure the content and copy is high quality and laid out in a manner that will attract visitors - than burn the cash on visual fluff. A website is much like dating... sure the beauty and eye candy may grab your attention and get your initial interest, but once you've gotten used to it (and the buzz has worn off), if there's nothing under the hood, it's not going to work out. Website owners want long term visitors and clients, not click and "hit back button" types - content failure is a case of style over substance.

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    in-fact be prepared to pay a lot more for their website.
    I question whether you viscerally "get what I'm saying." A lot of people nod at the right parts ...they just haven't a clue of what might go into a site people pay more for. This isn't the "golden gullible demographic" that has more money than brains. Quite the contrary.

    To dip a toe into the mindset, perhaps it is best said they value web design differently. The upside is they pay more. The downside is they expect results.

    They don't want the dev's confidence about what is supposed to work. They don't care what everyone else says about a third hand regurgitation of web lore. You don't get paid for raw, unfiltered, unqualified web traffic; no matter how highly the site ranks in SERPs. And you don't finish a site at launch time when it happens to show up in all major browsers -- that is merely the preliminary start of development.

    In many cases they have a site producing X amount -- that's what is called their control. It has been rigorously tested, tweaked, and improved -- each and every change paying for itself in provable increased sales or conversions.

    Everything on the page, including every subhead and sentence, has earned its way onto that page.

    It's your job to beat a control that may have been developed over three or more years. You ARE NOT getting paid for code, or this week's résumé stuffing dev fad. You are not getting paid because the site simply "works" in the most primitive, rudimentary, mechanical, childishly naïve way imaginable.

    And the implications of what that means rightly horrifies a great many in the web dev field.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlexDawson View Post
    A website is much like dating... sure the beauty and eye candy may grab your attention and get your initial interest, but once you've gotten used to it (and the buzz has worn off), if there's nothing under the hood, it's not going to work out.
    lol... that's a nice way of putting it. Content certainly is king, and it's the content that keeps your customer engaged once the design has done it's job.

    This isn't the "golden gullible demographic" that has more money than brains. Quite the contrary.
    Quite agreed. I have done some excellent work simply by cutting out the middle-man. The downside is that I do have to manage them. But in the long run I am better off.

    To dip a toe into the mindset, perhaps it is best said they value web design differently. The upside is they pay more. The downside is they expect results.
    It's understandable. I am quite the same. I tend to get scorned the most when I cut corners.

    And the implications of what that means rightly horrifies a great many in the web dev field.
    huh?

    I think I missed something.
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    Word Painter silver trophy Shyflower's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DCrux View Post
    I question whether you viscerally "get what I'm saying." A lot of people nod at the right parts ...they just haven't a clue of what might go into a site people pay more for. This isn't the "golden gullible demographic" that has more money than brains. Quite the contrary.

    To dip a toe into the mindset, perhaps it is best said they value web design differently. The upside is they pay more. The downside is they expect results.

    They don't want the dev's confidence about what is supposed to work. They don't care what everyone else says about a third hand regurgitation of web lore. You don't get paid for raw, unfiltered, unqualified web traffic; no matter how highly the site ranks in SERPs. And you don't finish a site at launch time when it happens to show up in all major browsers -- that is merely the preliminary start of development.

    In many cases they have a site producing X amount -- that's what is called their control. It has been rigorously tested, tweaked, and improved -- each and every change paying for itself in provable increased sales or conversions.

    Everything on the page, including every subhead and sentence, has earned its way onto that page.

    It's your job to beat a control that may have been developed over three or more years. You ARE NOT getting paid for code, or this week's résumé stuffing dev fad. You are not getting paid because the site simply "works" in the most primitive, rudimentary, mechanical, childishly naïve way imaginable.

    And the implications of what that means rightly horrifies a great many in the web dev field.

    The high-profile businesses that you describe are not those that rely on their web developer to find a copy writer for their websites. They are companies that generally employ a high-profile PR firm to create and oversee all of their promotional media.

    In the real world of the small business web developer, many processes, which both developer and copy writer would like to employ, are omitted because of the budget constraints of the small business. When a developer is competing with Pop's nephew, a third-world company, or some WYSIWYG program, it's a pretty hard sell from the beginning.

    There is a limited amount of 'value' you can sell to someone on a small budget. I certainly understand the problems that Sega and some of the others mention. What is needed is to first educate developers about the importance of content and help them present it as an investment to their clients instead of an expense.
    Linda Jenkinson
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    There is a limited amount of 'value' you can sell to someone on a small budget
    As I said, it's a world view problem. Enjoy the fruits of knowing you are absolutely, without a doubt correct. People without money are not going to spend a lot.

    I'll continue on in my delusion of not targeting people without the money or wherewithal to pay. Better yet, I'll sell web design to the Amish. I will rationalize this with what every last person who's used this line of reasoning knows "Everybody needs a web site."

    Attention Eskimos: Ice Cubes For Sale. Now I just have to start a web forum for people to pointlessly gripe about their customers not having an ice budget.


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