It’s not just you. Getting content from clients – whether it be written language or images – can be challenging. Over the past 3 years, I’ve found a few ways to make this process a bit faster and a bit easier for everyone involved.

First, Understand Why it Takes Forever

It’s easy to get impatient or annoyed when clients take a long time to send over the copy that we need to start designing and building a site, app, program, etc. Why is this? If we can understand the why, we can address those issues to make the process go faster.

In general, we put a lot of weight on the content. It’s an important part of the site, we all can agree on that. Clients typically don’t’ want to send it until it’s absoslutely perfect and there is a lot of pressure to make that happen.

It’s also extremely intimidating to organize the information and get everything written up in a way that is clear, concise, proofread, and doesn’t forget anything important. If this is the first time a client is handling a project like this, it can seem overwhelming.

 

 

I’ve had clients who feel more comfortable hand-writing content, but it should be communicated from the beginning how content is expected to be received. You should be getting your content in a typed/digital format so that you can simply copy-paste. It’s not your job as a designer or developer to transcribe and potentially misspell your client’s content. (Unless you want it to be!)

Make It Easy

We always want to assume that submitting content is going to be overwhemling. (Because it usually is.) So as project managers, we can provide resources, tools, and processes that make it easier for the client. Sometimes I’ll send them to a link or article on actually writing good content. You can even get on a call to talk through what the content of each page should touch upon.

Then there’s actually collecting it. It can be difficult for some clients, especially if they are intimidated by a new system or program.

My favorite way of collecting content quickly is providing a Google Drive folder that contains sub-folders for each page. Within the “Home” sub folder, there will be a blank doc where the client can pop in their content. Forms should get their own unique doc, in the proper folder, but with the fields and any special details about how the form should function. Also within that subfolder, the client can upload the images they have.

Encourage the most organized methods you can. I ask my clients to name the images they upload in descriptive ways, rather than generic or auto-generated names (like IMG_2043). This helps me categorize images and also helps me write ALT tags!

Collecting content this way means:

  • No emails back and forth with revised content documents
  • Everything can be labeled and in one place
  • Everything is organized and sorted in a way that makes sense
  • New parties (subcontractors, assistants, etc.) can be added to the main folder without needing to round up emails with the necessary documents and send them all separately

Your folder organization should look something like this:

  • Client/Business Name
    • Homepage
      • Homepage Copy (Google Doc)
      • IMG1
      • IMG2
    • Services Page
      • Services Copy (Google Doc)
      • IMG3
      • IMG4
    • About Page
      • About Copy (Google Doc)
      • IMG5
      • IMG6
    • Contact Page
      • Contact copy (Google Doc)
      • Contact Form details (Google Doc)
      • IMG7
      • IMG8

There may be a tool that you prefer rather that Google Drive. But after testing out a few different methods, I’ve found this to be the most straight-forward and fool-proof way to receive, organize, and edit site content.

Or you may want to go for a form they can fill out. Google Drive had the amazing Google Forms tool, but remember that users cannot start and stop this form. They have to fill it out all in one go. For smaller sites, this may be a great way to go. But you can’t really expect clients with lots of pages to be able to fill it all out in one sitting.

Be Firm About It

Set a due date for content and stick to it.

In my web design projects, I will not move on to the next step (wireframing) without the content. I inform my clients of this. And while it may seem strict, it communicates to them not only how important sending the content is, but that the project simply cannot proceed without it. No one wants a project to drag on forever; we want the site up as quickly as possible.

You don’t have to be inflexible. I tell my clients that if they are waiting for the content to be perfect before sending, it will never get sent. Building a site is like building a house: you can always move things around later as you grow. I offer my clients an opportunity just before launch to go back in and update the content if they want to. (This also provides an excellent opportunity for them to practice using the content builder.) But it means that I can have a framework of content from which I can start actually designing around the content itself. All because I insist on getting the content before any other work is done.

Connect Them With a Copywriter

Again, your client just may be intimidated or overwhelmed with the responsibility of writing all the content. Maybe they aren’t a strong writer. Maybe English isn’t their first language. Maybe they just don’t want to do it.

This is where having a copywriter partner comes in handy. If you’re an agency or larger business, consider actually hiring a copywriter to handle this. But if you’re just one person (like me) find someone to whom you can refer that part of the project. This means that you’ll end up with well-written content, the client will feel less stressed, and you’ll get the copy that much faster.

How do you receive your website copy? Do you have any tips or ideas on how to speed up this process and make it easier for everyone involved?