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.

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.