Imagine you are not a web developer, and someone ordered a cake from you. Although you are willing to buy the ingredients for them (for a price) they insist on providing their own. One day they drop off a shopping bag which contains the basics (flour, frosting, you name it) and insist you start baking that cake.
“Great, just let me check if everything is…”
“Yeah, yeah, that’s great. I don’t have time for this. Just start baking the cake.”
“I’m sure it’ll be a great cake! Call me if you need anything.”
Once you start working on the cake, you notice that there’s no sugar in the bag. You try to contact the client, and when they finally respond you almost want to punch your cake. Well, cake-mix.
“I’ll get to that next week, but remember I need the cake ASAP, because it’s for a birthday party. Can’t you just start on the cake without the sugar?”
No. Or, as you’d like to respond as you stare at the liquid cake in your bowl: “Noooooooooooooooh.”
The same scenario happens more than often than not when building a website, if you don’t hold the clients’ hand. The one thing they’re most likely going to “forget” to provide to you? The content for their site. Specifically, the text. Technically, you could start on the site without it, but you’ll never be able to finish it without it. And chasing the client for that content is an option, but you’ve got other cakes to build… bake… sites to build.
The shopping list
You can avoid this, by giving the client a shopping list; a list of the content you absolutely need to go ahead. make it clear that without all the items on the list, you can’t start working on the site – and hold your ground.
The best way to hand over that shopping list? The Project Management tool of your choice. It eliminates all arguments ( I didn’t get your mail / already gave it to you / did you get my fax / sure, here’s a PDF of a Word document of a screenshot of a site I like, you figure it out), and ties the process of collecting the content in with the rest of your project.
Avoid e-mail or communicating verbally – it won’t have the same result of adding it to your PM tool, and might be as unproductive like the client walking in and dropping off a bag of sugar into one of your already full cupboards.
When your “shopping list” is out there, you can now play the waiting game, and sit back. Maybe work on that wedding cake for the client that was so excited she paid in full. It’s up to the client to play his part, and give you the contant you (well, their site) needs.
This post is not sponsored by any manufacturers of cake; nor does this blog post endorse clients trying to pay you with sugar instead of real money.