Shawn - May 12th, 2010
Every project created by our Tampa-based website design company is custom, but the one pre-requisite we pretty much insist upon across-client is that the site’s content be complete before we begin the website build process.
Actually, the only way to receive a truly accurate price quote from any website designer is by having the verbiage and its organization complete upfront. While you are not necessarily being charged a “per-word count” what is written and how it needs to be presented will absolutely affect your project’s quote. By coming across with content late in the game you could get hit with an unexpected bump in price…a completely avoidable surprise.
In addition, the verbiage itself is really another design element. With the content pre-determined, you and your designer can truly integrate your written concepts with your images for a seamless and cohesive website.
We know that providing the verbiage is typically the most stressful part of the project; you obviously want information about your products and services to be conveyed in a fresh and engaging manner.
You can do it; but if your approach is not an organized one it can hold up the whole show.
SO WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO PREPARE AND SUBMIT WEBSITE CONTENT?
Have The Content Ready To Go Before You Get On Your Website Designer’s Schedule
In the absence of the website content, you and your designer will quickly arrive at a point where you can’t go any further without it; then you’ll be pressured to complete something, the project will inevitably stall, and you will quickly fall into the waste of time and money trap. You’ll breathe much easier and enjoy the creative process much more if you don’t let the words hold you up.
The Hardest Part About Writing Something is Getting Started
- Our suggestion: start anywhere. You don’t have to write the pages in the order of their eventual appearance.
- Don’t fixate on creating an interest-grabbing first sentence; the first sentence typically gets written last anyway.
- Writing is re-writing…just start typing and a consistent process of refinement will eventually get it done.
- Make use of sub-headings as signposts within the verbiage so your finished text can be easily scanned to increase its online readability.
- On-screen writing is different than hard copy writing and search engine optimization is not just about making a site speak to search engines; it is also about making it easily digestible by humans.
- And if you rush the process and don’t give yourself enough time, the pain will be apparent and the cracks will show. Start the content development as your first task then all the cool graphics and slideshows will follow.
- (If you need professionally crafted verbiage or some polish applied to paragraphs you have written, Itistic has wordsmiths on staff! We can even assist with the organization of existing content!)
Get It Together
- Services like those provided by JumpChart.com are brilliant and basically supply a vehicle that allows you to steer your content through the creation, organization, and approval processes.
- You and the other decision makers in your company can efficiently monitor your content’s progress until your finished product is ready for delivery to the designers.
- (We also subscribe to this affordable and irreplaceable sanity-restoring interactive solution!)
Content In All Shapes and Sizes
We’ve literally gotten website words on pieces of paper towels, the backs of envelopes, and…you get the idea. But if you want the face of your business to speak clearly and the process to be a seamless one:
- Submit it to the website designers in a digital format, even if it is an organized email or other text document
- If using a program like Word to create the content, make use of the “comments” and “track changes” features so your remarks are clearly defined from your actual verbiage; it is also a great way to track progress and allow anyone else working on the content to see your thought process
- No one expects the verbiage to be delivered all slick and HTML; but it should be clean and proofread by everyone you know to ensure professionalism and clarity
- Plainly illustrate what words go with what site pages through the use of headers that mimic the agreed upon page names (e.g. About Us, Contact Us); assume nothing
Make Provisions In Advance For Changes Down The Road
- We recommend taking advantage of incorporating a Content Management System (CMS) like ExpressionEngine into your website’s design; we use it too!
- It puts the power in your hands to update your own content and to enable refresh or deletion of dated material.
- And if you don’t entitle yourself to a way of making post-site launch changes, it will cost you money to make them later, so you’ll have to strive to get it right the first time!
The Bottom Line…
Nothing’s better than seeing your concepts come to life via the creative process.
But by taking the approach that the website content is a huge part of the picture and needs to be given the same weight and consideration as fonts and images and effects, you’ll have more time to enjoy the ride if you just get the content under control.