Communication + Content + Site Structure = Success

Nine times out of a ten when I'm working on a web site one of the hardest things to retrieve from a client is content. If you're a designer than you know exactly what I'm talking about. Often you can have a project 95% complete but you end up waiting a few extra weeks while you sit and stare at your 'Lorem Ipsum' text.

Over the years I've tried many different approaches when it comes to getting those glorious emails with Microsoft Word attachments. I've found some success along the way so let me share with you what simply seems to work for me.

One of the first things I do when I meet with a client is discuss content and site structure. I feel that it is very important for both parties to understand the architecture of the site. Once a client has a good understanding of the navigation menu for the site I know we are on the right track. At that point I give them some homework. If the navigation consists of five items I ask for five separate emails with content relating to each section. Simple right? I like to stay organized for projects and this helps me achieve this. It also keeps the client organized. In most cases a client is looking for a two column layout with a header and footer and narrow sidebar. This first batch of emails takes care of the main content column on each page.

The next step is the narrow 'sidebar' column. I approach this in a similar manner. I ask that they think of this column in modules. These 'modules' we create can be plugged into any of the main navigation pages of their choosing. So again ... we do some 'homework'. Now generally modules are quite light when it comes to text so I ask for a single email this time listing out what type of modules they would like to see on the site. Modules can range from social media feeds, contact forms, photo galleries to blog indexes. I'll give the client some ideas on what I think would be a good fit for the site and then ask them to come up with their own. After a few days of brainstorming, we will have come up with many different ideas. We'll decide on which ones work best and move on.

So look at that. We now have all of the 'core' pages figured out and I'm ready to put the pieces together. Best of all we have approval from the client as they were part of the process the whole way through. They know exactly what to expect and they won't find any hidden surprises. Win- win situation.

So that's it. This is a simple method that I have had great success with over the years when it comes to web design and capturing per page content. This approach saves me time and saves my clients money. Maybe it won't work for you or maybe it will? I know it certainly does for me.