A lot of agencies, including ourselves, place a huge focus on content for any web project they undertake and rightly so. After all, content is the single most important aspect of any web site or app because it’s not only what the visitor is seeing, doing or interacting with, it’s the entire point to the project in the first place (hence an entire discipline devoted to it). If you don’t have good content, you don’t have a good product. Fact.
With this in mind it’s incredibly important to get content upfront in any job because it not only influences aesthetics and functionality, it’s also very hard to design something without knowing what you’re designing for. How can you possibly design a web site that delivers an effective message if you don’t know what it’s meant to say? Likewise, how can you design a UI if you don’t know what the heck it does? Content is more than just words and copy too, it’s everything from imagery to interactivity to functionality and is fundamentally valuable.
how can you design a UI if you don’t know what the heck it does?
So, yeah, content = important and content upfront = very important. However, sorting out the initial content is only just a small piece of the pie and one of the easier aspects to manage as, in our experience, it often goes pretty smoothly. Nothing has been built at this stage and the designs can flow around the content, each aspect influencing the other seamlessly in some sort of beautiful dance. Mocks are created from content, content is tweaked and altered to aid the design and usability, account management is slick and precise, client is happy, everyone is smiling, beers all round.
Indeed, there can be no doubting that getting content sorted out early is a tremendous boon to the life of the project and that it also does wonders for the budget and account management process. Once the designs have been signed off and the first testing version of the site or app has been built though, the fun really beings. It’s then that decent account management becomes invaluable and having a reasonable budget, with enough time left in it, is utterly imperative.
once the designs have been signed off and the first testing version of the site or app has been built though, the fun really beings
It’s at this stage in a project, once a client actually has something to get their hands on and play around with, that they start firing emails to you at full throttle, full of thoughts, amendments, ideas and, lo and behold, new bits of copy and content. Managing this process to a high degree of client satisfaction whilst still maintaining a super high level of quality is incredibly tricky and it’s exactly why good account management is important and necessary. You have to guide the client through their thoughts and decisions, working with them to produce the best possible product whilst pushing back on the things that would otherwise sacrifice the integrity of the final deliverable.
Remember that lovely little news widget you built that had just enough room for two paragraphs of text? Guess what, the client has just sent you a 10,000 word PDF with a two page intro. Remember that beautifully crafted strapline that fits in perfectly on the header on the homepage? The client now wants to publish their daughter’s essay on the history of the Roman Empire there instead. Managing this process is tough and doing so without either compromising the design and ruining the entire project or being a complete dick to your client is even tougher.
This point is also when the budget comes under fire and you start running out of billable time, sweating under pressure to just get the darn thing done. It’s when the project is at its most vulnerable and everything everyone worked on for so long is at risk of turning into a dog’s dinner. Preserving the underlying message and function of the site or app and staying committed to delivering high quality is absolute imperative at this stage and it’s incredibly easy to give in to the temptation to shoe-horn in any and all requests thrown at you by the client without considering them just to get them done.
this point is also when the budget comes under fire and you start running out of billable time, sweating under pressure to just get the darn thing done
Of course I’m not saying fight or argue with anyone, all I’m saying is make sure you have the time and budget to properly discuss matters with project stakeholders and guide them through collaborating on the final pieces of content. This is the value of account management and good budgets because if you get into a negative frame of mind and start doing anything and everything just to get the client off your back then you’ve stopped thinking about what’s best for the job as a whole and have ultimately failed.
But if you do get all these things right and manage to perfectly balance design, content, account management and cost then you’ll have an amazing end result, a product that delights everyone, does something truly beneficial and comes in right on budget. You’ll also be a fucking magician.