Warning: Create your website at your own risk!

Diving too deep can result in a waste of energy, time, and resources.

We know better now.

My wife and I have just bought our first house. It has been updated, it looks great, and we’re slowly making it our own. When we bought it, we planned on installing our own laminate flooring. We bought a circular saw, read a few how-to articles, and felt generally pretty confident. It can’t be that hard!

Each day after work, my wife and I would come to our new house to work on the floors. We started in the small room to get a handle on the process. To make a long (and painful) story short, 8 hours in, we had only completed about 30 square feet. It was a disaster.

By doing flooring ourselves, we managed to:

  • Turn our new house into a source of frustration
  • Spend valuable energy
  • Waste three nights of our lives
  • Burn ourselves out

In the end, we hired a professional. Now the project is done, and it looks great.

Continue reading “Warning: Create your website at your own risk!”

How to Define Your Website Audience – includes a PDF sample!

Lucia Hernandez - A fictional website audience profile

This two-page PDF file is an example of how to define your website audience. When you create a website, it’s important to have in mind for whom you’re designing.

When designing landing pages, it is especially important to focus on an audience and craft every piece of content to fit that profile.

Feel free to use the audience profile PDF as an outline for your projects.

[download id=”1″]

Content is king…when can I get it?

King content and his pawns

As a web designer / developer, my job is pretty straight forward: I design a website, code it, and add the content. But that’s not all. I’ve also got to be a pest, hounding clients for content.

At the beginning of each project, it’s always a good idea to get a firm grasp on exactly what content is going to be on the website. Defining a site map is vital to developing a website. A simple list helps you figure out what is needed. Below is a sample:

  • About us
    • Employees
      • Bio paragraphs
      • Head shots
      • Contact information
    • History
      • Photo of founders, current owners
      • Chronology
      • Intro paragraph
        • Bridge history with present, link to various project

Once you’ve got a good understanding of what is needed, you must start asking for content immediately. Companies like to wait until the last minute, then wait days longer to deliver content. If you plan for late content and pester your clients from the get-go, you might be able to have everything you need when the website is complete.

There is a great book (Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that Works) that says you should create a timeline for content delivery. They have a pretty table with deliverables and a flow chart and all sorts of great stuff. In a perfect world where the website project is the client’s top priority, a content delivery timeline might work. Heck, you could even bill clients for overdue content! However, in the real world, there’s no such thing as a content delivery timeline. A web developer must take content into their own hands, or else you won’t get paid.

Designer, protect thyself!

If you have clients with overdue content that is holding up the launch of a website, it’s not a big deal, except that designers often get paid when the site goes live. No content, no pay check.

A contract is a great place to define what happens if the site is ready except for the content. Rather than being paid at launch, it is a good great idea to be paid when the site is ready – content or not. That way, if you’ve done your part of the project, and your client has not yet prepared their portion, you can still send off that invoice.

When modifying your contract, keep in mind that you’ll still need to agree to add the content once you receive it! If that’s too big a hassle (working for free after getting paid), then don’t bother changing your current contract.

How do you deal?

Do you have nightmare clients? Late content delivery? Are you the client? How do you handle being part of a web design project? I’d love to hear your stories.