Rarely have a met a Web client that wanted me to spend more time on their site than necessary or to bill them for more hours than needed. Typically they wanted the least expensive site possible. I am happy to work with clients to achieve this goal, but it has the best results if the clients are able to provide all of the information needed.
While each project is different, some tasks are true of most every site. The more the client contributes, the less time I will spend on the project. In many cases, only the client can provide the needed content. Below is a list of some of the most important elements.
Pages and Navigation
I guess I assume you have visited some other Web sites. Most likely hundreds of them. As you visit other sites, you see the individual pages on those sites. Make a list of pages you’ll want on your site. For example: Home, About Us, Contact Us, Our Services. Name them whatever you want, just make a list. You might have a list with only 3-4, you may have a list with hundreds. If I don’t know what pages you want, it is really hard for me to build them.
Once you have the list of pages, I need to know what will go on those pages. You know your business much better than I do. Even if you aren’t a writer, any text you can create is very helpful. I can clean up what you provide, but I can’t write about something if I don’t know anything about it.
Once upon a time a client asked me to write a bio for each of the ten employees on their staff. I had never met nine of them. Do you see why it would be difficult for me to write about them if all I knew was their name? In that situation, ask each staff member to write two sentences about themselves. We can edit the bio, but it isn’t something I can write.
By listing page names and the text content of the pages in an electronic file, you save me a lot of typing. Do you really want to pay my hourly fee to have me be a typist? Yes, you might grumble that I’m asking you to do it, but I’m trying to help you save money while also getting a better Web site.
Photos and Graphics
Just like I often need your help with the text on pages, I also need your help with photos and graphics. Yes, I can sometimes take photos for you. Once again, that means you will be paying for my time setting up the photo, shooting it, editing it and then putting it on the site. Maybe you already have good photos. Why reinvent the wheel?
No, the incredibly low resolution photo can’t be used. It is awful. Computers can do wonderful things, but they can’t work magic on awful photos. When you provide good original photos, I can improve them and they will look great on your site. Plus, I can do it quickly to keep your bill as low as possible.
The same is true of other graphics. Sure we could purchase stock artwork. Yes I have a lot of skills for creating and editing graphics. But all of that takes time and time is money. If you can provide me more artwork, I can save you money.
One of the most important graphics is your logo. I need it in a vector format. No, that crummy JPG on your current Web site isn’t a good answer. Could I rebuilt it? Sure, but it could take me a few hours. Please spend just a few more minutes looking for the best version you can find. This helps me put the best version of your company on the Web site and also saves money.
When you’ve surfed the Web, you have probably seen some sites that you like. Maybe not even the whole site, but elements of the site caught your eye. Give me a list of some of your favorites and tell me why you like it.
Just as you have your favorites, you probably can also name a few sites you think are bad. I want that list as well so I can avoid the things you don’t like.
I know this may sound like a lot of work. If you want to raise your budget, I’m happy to do more and bill you for it. But if you want me to keep to a very tight budget, I need your help providing as much as the content as possible. Then I can focus on making your site awesome!
Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.