When Clients Don’t Provide Content

photo of a woman handshaking with a man

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I saw a topic on the Squarespace Circle Forum titled “How do you work with clients who are lacking content?” Squarespace is a popular website creation website and I use them with several clients. (Note: the forum is open to registered users) Though the posts are focused on web design clients, the question applies to other design situations.

I design courses online and faculty are my “clients” in that instructional design role. An ID designs a course but the content is almost totally provided by faculty.

I’m currently working with faculty at a community college and the biggest problem encountered is getting faculty to provide their course content in a timely fashion.

I also design social media strategies. In that role, I often am the content creator to a degree. I often write posts, add images and repost/retweet relevant content. But that can only be done from the raw content (text and images) from the client.

In all three situations, we design based on the content. It doesn’t work very well the other way around.

So what do users on the forum suggest? Most of their suggestions are aligned with my own practices. Here are some suggestions for working with clients that don’t provide content – or even better, for trying to avoid the no-content situation.

  1. Talk to the client about content and imagery before beginning. Be clear about what is ready to use, what needs to be created and who will create it. I have for some projects created copy, images and media.
  2. Have a timeline with milestones that need to be met by the client (I like weekly ones) in order to trigger your own design work.
  3. Many designers use a questionnaire of some kind. For example, in designing courses, we ask faculty to fill in a worksheet with course goals and objectives (they are not the same thing!) and a syllabus.
  4. You may need to create video how-to’s for the client on how to create content for their site.
  5. Stay in touch. You need to contact them when they are behind on delivering their content. Their prep work determines your ability as a designer  – some hand holding/teaching how to write copy for websites, etc. Email is the least effective way to stay in touch. Phone conversations are better. Web conferencing and screen sharing is better. Face to face meetings are still the best way.
  6. I like having a place for sharing files and collaborative space. Google Drive works, but I prefer Dropbox which has features for collaboration. Both are free for basic cloud space and can be expanded for multiple projects.
  7. You might use temporary filler text and images on a website so that you can continue designing.
  8. The “client” may actually be many individuals such as writers, photographers, graphic designers, media creators, librarians etc.

In some unfortunate cases, a client not providing content will not only delay a project but could end your relationship with the client.

Retiring Fonts

wooden-type-pdpics

Did you know that a font can retire? Adobe retired a group of fonts from their subscription library recently.

Font retirement may happen for a variety of reasons, but is typically at the request of the foundry, when a typeface is no longer available for licensing and distribution. The majority of font retirements are because the font family has been updated with significant changes that necessitate replacing it with an entirely new family. For example, Alverata PE from TypeTogether was overhauled, retired, and replaced by the family Alverata.

If a site is already using a retired font, it’ll continue to display, but once you change the font, you can’t go back to using the retired font.

Here’s a list of the retired ones:
Chemist
Chemist Rough
Couture
Couture Sans
Daniel
Fanwood Text
Intruder Alert
Junction
League Script No 1
Lobster
Luxi Sans
Luxi Serif
Molengo
New Cicle
Nobile
Prociono
Puritan
saxMono
Silkscreen
Simply Mono
Vera Sans

More at https://helpx.adobe.com/fonts/using/retired-fonts.html#what

Interaction Design IxD

interaction

There are new job titles emerging in digital design every year. Or so it seems.  UX design deals with how a user feels about an application. UI design is the what, where and how elements work on the apps, Information Architecture is how an application is organized.

Interaction Design is the newest abbreviation. ID or IxD is how the user and application act and react to each other. Interaction design defines the relationship between people and the product they use, from computers to mobile apps and beyond.  In theory and definition, this seems to me to be the most important job.

One mistake some designers make is a tendency to focus on how things look, when the focus should equally be on how things work.

IxD is the practice of designing interactive digital products, environments, systems, and services. It is often associated with digital design, but it is also useful when creating a physical product and considering how a user might interact with it.

Some crossovers of interaction design include human–computer interaction, and software development.

It’s not that interaction designers don’t consider form, but they are also concerned  with analyzing how things are, how they could be, and satisfying the majority of users.

If you have never heard of IxD, don’t feel bad. The design fields are changing very fast right now. A future post might have to look at another job that I only discovered this month: chief experience officer (CXO). A CXO is an executive responsible for the overall user experience (UX) of an organization’s products and services.

Not everyone in the field likes this flourishing of new abbreviations. I saw an article “Why UX, UI, CX, IA, IxD, and Other Sorts of Design Are Dumb” which opines that we should “stop setting up definitions for overkill terminology and start doing the job.”

Still confused? Take a look at this short explanation of UX vs UI vs IA vs IxD.

New Template Being Pushed for Facebook Business Pages

changes

Many of you Facebook received the same update news that I got about changes to business Pages. I have read that these changes are largely inspired by a push to support small and local businesses.

There are more than 80 million businesses that use Facebook Pages. About two-thirds of the 1.6 billion people around the world visit a local business Page or an Event Page each week.

I have also read that Page reach and engagement for brands has been on the decline. The area of weakest engagement is the News Feed.

The News Feed is the key area for personal pages, but not so for business Pages. The changes seem to be making your business presence more like a website. Some smaller businesses have been using their Facebook Page as a website in that they don’t have a traditional website at all. Recently, I built a Facebook business Page for a professional photographer who did not have a website, though he did use Zenfolio to display and sell his work.

Business owners know that customer reviews (Yelp, Amazon, TripAdvisor etc.) are important to all businesses but especially for local businesses. If you trust the validity of those reviews for restaurants and services, they can drive engagement and sales. And facebook quickly realized (and abused to a degree) the fact that most of us especially trust reviews by their friends and families.

The update makes it easier for people to recommend your business by posting text, photos and tags directly on your Page.

There are also action buttons prominently near the top of Pages for things like booking an appointment for a haircut, ordering, sending a message or writing  a recommendation.

The email I initially received said:

We want to let you know that your Page’s template will be changing. This new design will help you connect with the people who care most about your business on Facebook.

The new layout is specifically for businesses like yours and will showcase important information about your business – like hours, prices and your menu – making it easier for people to connect with Ronkowitz LLC.

You can make this change now, or we’ll automatically update your Page layout on August 24th, 2018. You can also continue to use your current template.

Other changes are also coming for businesses. It may not really affect small, local businesses but job listings (which Facebook has been testing since 2017) is supposed to be added to business pages in the next few months.

Choosing the action buttons best suited to your business would be a good first step, but you can also feature information such as hours and prices, as well as Recommendations more prominently on Pages. You can also choose to highlight new content such as events and offers.

Some of these features are not new, but are displayed differently. Facebook says that 700 million people use Facebook Events each month. You could always link to ticket sales on another site, but now you will be able to sell tickets directly through Facebook Pages and make event-specific ads to help with promotion and marketing. Obviously, those changes benefit Facebook monetarily too.

I have seen other recent changes too not mentioned in most update articles. For example, a photo post I shared from my Instagram to Facebook no longer carried an Instagram label and so looked less like a repost.

Type, Typefaces and Fonts

Everyone online knows the term “font” but or designers there are important differences between type, typeface, and font.

Type is the generic term for everything that goes into visual text. Historically, the term  referred to the actual pieces of wood or metal used to create physical letters on printed pages. When designers talk about typography, they are discussing the style and appearance of printed text. Some designers actually specialize in typography in the design and arrangement of text visually.

Typeface, or font family, is the A-Z alphabet designed so that all the letters and symbols have similar features. This is what we mean when we say For instance, Times, Arial, or Helvetica.

Font is the term used to refer to the specific style of a typeface. Arial Black is a font of the Arial typeface.

Designing websites requires considerations of all three terms. rarely will a website use one font throughout.

If you want to divide font styles into two groups, it would be serif and sans serif. The serif is the small line at the end of a stroke on a letter. Calibri is a sans (without) serif font, while Cambria is a serif font.

Some fonts that are quite readable on a printed full-size poster are inappropriate on a screen. And of course, a phone screen and a laptop screen are different pieces of real estate.

Designers generally look to find and use fonts that complement each other. One approach is to use multiple fonts belonging to one family so that you have bold, italic, light, medium, and black options to use. Different fonts from within the same family can break up the text and draw attention while still being complementary.

Adobe adds fonts to their Typekit library and there are names that you have probably never seen as options in common applications like Microsoft Office. Check out BlambotChandler Van De Water, EuropaType and MAC Rhino Fonts as examples.

MORE

theblog.adobe.com/whats-in-a-font-how-fonts-can-define-your-design/

thenextweb.com/dd/2017/03/31/science-behind-fonts-make-feel/

Web Design ‘Mistakes’

GoDaddy.com posted a list of 15 website design “mistakes.” Of course, some mistakes are not mistakes in some situations.

Here is their list of 15 (details on the full post) which are certainly all things to take into consideration with you website’s design.

Above-the-fold.
Speed.
Responsiveness.
Intuitiveness.
Navigational simplicity.
Readability.
Scannability.
Cleanliness.
Elegance.
Branding.
Contact info.
Search.
Timeliness.
Annoyances.
Error handling.

It is pretty much accepted that having the name of your business and purpose of your website immediately visible on your landing page “above the fold” without scrolling is a rule. “Above the fold” is an old media term from newspaper publishing where that space was what was displayed when a newspaper was stacked on a newstand.

The author lists as annoyances pop-up menus, autoplay and using Flash, but you’ll still find situations where these features play an important role. A pop-ups can be used to capture newsletter signups, for example. But if users are blocking all of them, have you planned for an alternative?

Adobe Flash has gone from being the hot feature for animated banners and menus to being a web design negative. Why? Besides pressure from Apple devices not using it, it is a closed, proprietary system in an increasingly web of open standards. It also is often hacked and it is a heavy draw on mobile device batteries.