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

Each to his own.

Some of us enjoy providing help to businesses just starting out and are grateful for the privilege of using our talents to do so. Some of us enjoy working with real people who run a business instead of a corporation that cares about nothing more than the gosh almighty dollar. I’ve worked for them both and even though the money is less per project, I’ll take the small businessman any day over the corporate know it all.

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.

However, your take on copy as an investment is out of whack.

To some it might be, I was stung at a young age very hard, and I am very skeptical on people who try to sell something to me and an investment. It’s not really something I can change in myself.

No investment is guaranteed, and the reason people won’t put their necks down on the line is because they simply don’t know if you will make money or not, and if they did they would go bankrupted. This is why I am skeptical of people trying to place themselves as an investment.

Ideally I want to know how people go about using copywriters, nothing to do with investments. How people can co-ordinate with them, and how things normally work out from their experiences. Obviously I am not doubting I will need a copy-writer, but I have to see how I will market this with the services they can provide. I know many don’t use copy-writers, but the best in us do you use them, and I want to be one of those who does.

So true BUT… they tend to cost a lot also don’t they?

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. :stuck_out_tongue:

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). :slight_smile:

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.

Right. It often falls to the designer to try and guide the owner into better content, even though copywriting isn’t the expertise of the designer.

I can tell you this: When you do help an owner improve his website (content, too) and thereby his business, that owner will start looking to you as a guru, and you’ll start hearing from his/her friends, too. :wink:

Completely Agreed. I use to work at a company which could not give two damns about the clients content, as they saw this as their responsibility, which is complete hogwash, since clients have limited knowledge. Most of the times we got 2/3 thousand word essays per page, which sounds awful.

Before you submit a proposal on the project, all you really need to do is ask a few simple questions of your client:

"Of course, your content is the most important part of your website.

  1. What type of content are you planning? (Photos, videos, text, etc.)
  2. Who will be responsible to provide your content?
  3. Have you hired a copy writer or will you write your own text?
  4. When do you anticipate that your content will be ready?

No, they tend to reward the wise client who invests in good content with conversions that result in a quick, stronger ROI.

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.

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.

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. :slight_smile:

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.


I think I missed something.


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.

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.

Seems like I kicked up a fuss without realizing it. :slight_smile:

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.

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.

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.

Apparently not. There are many copy writers today who specialize in writing copy for business web sites and web-based businesses.