Content Snare has created some amazing tools to help web designers obtain content much easier from their clients. But what if there was a way to make getting content even easier? Keep reading because I’ll show you how creating a website strategy will help you get content from your clients an easy and natural process.
Asking the Right Questions
In your initial consultation with your client I’m sure you ask a few questions about their business. However, I find that there’s still too many freelancers out there with the ‘tell me what you want’ mentality.
They allow the clients to tell them what they want and simply execute it instead of listening, asking questions, making recommendations and taking charge of a project.
I remember in my earlier days dealing with clients, I would ask a few questions around their business, but looking back I notice that my questions were really about being polite and looking like I care instead of using that information to build a better website. It was at that point I would ask the client to start working on content as I began building the framework for their site.
Well that almost always turned out to be a disaster because I would either get a bunch of content that didn’t fit, or struggle to get any content at all (which happened most often). I had to find a better way. If you want the client to easily produce content for their website it starts by asking questions. This in turn allows you to create a layout with the clients answers in mind. Here is a list of sample questions that you should be asking. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s meant to help get you on the right path.
- Tell me about the products / services you provide
- What are the questions prospective customers ask you the most?
- In a few short words (or in one statement), tell me what you do.
- What are the key benefits to your product / service
- Tell me what your feel your prospects need to know most about your company
The key here is to engage in an in-depth discovery conversation that allows you to find as much as you can about their customers and their business. If you were writing the content for their website what questions would you ask? This is the key to getting content from clients easier.
Give Your Client Direction
Whether you recognize it or not, YOU are the project manager.
I sense that one of the biggest struggles web designers have is recognizing their leadership role in a project. Most clients are looking to you for direction, they aren’t technical and if they knew as much as you did about websites, they’d probably go build it themselves – That’s why they hired you.
Taking a leadership position in your project management means you dictate the terms, you dictate the direction and how things are done. You are the one who sets the boundaries and parameters of the project. When you begin to take ownership as a leader, you’ll notice clients (most of them) will start to fall in line, they respect you more, and become easier to work with.
If you want to get content from your clients easily, they need direction. This is one of the biggest mistakes freelancers make. By providing your clients clear concise direction as to what’s needed from them with regards to content, they will easily produce it for you.
Creating a Wireframe
The website trends have evolved to where we naturally layout content in chunks. Whether we realize it or not, we chunk our content in order to make the page easier to read and scan. By the same token we need to break down the content we need from clients into chunks. This allows them to easily focus on one part at a time and not feel overwhelmed with a blanket statement such as ‘Can you get me content’.
The primary reasons I build wireframes as part of my design process is to provide the client with a visual of what content is required, where I need it, and the parameters required for the content. Because I’ve asked so many questions in the beginning, I could almost write the content myself, but it allows me to know what content deserves priority on the front page, How I want to lead visitors through the website (creating a user journey). In fact, there are a number of things I’ll write myself just to provide a good head start for the client because a) I have a vision in my mind as to how I want the website to be presented, and b) it gives the client clearer direction on the content that’s required. Below is a quick sample of a wireframe I drew up for the purposes of this article. On a quick side note…. I used MS Word to create the wireframe. It’s quick and easy as I simply inserted tables to display the needed boxes. There are lots of tools out there for wireframing, so you can feel free to pick your poison. I’ll save it as a PDF and send it to the client so they have a frame of reference. Armed with a wireframe, you can then leverage Content Snare features to map out the required content for the website.
Regardless of the tools at your disposal, getting information from clients can be difficult and frustrating task. The goal is to eliminate the friction as much as possible. By thinking through your processes allows you to be the hero your client is looking for while making your life so much easier.
Written by: Randy Dueck at Street Smart Creative.
I have to say this article has really resonated with me. I’m the type of web designer that says “can we get the content written”. I assume they have a perfect idea of what to say, but they often dont.
I’ll be sure to ask questions to guide them from now on. Also I’ll be more helpful in giving them visual indication of content arrangement.
Very nice article!
Great to hear you like it Oliver. Randy did a great job of this post