How to Get Your Web Design Clients to Send You Content

Posted on October 21, 2016 by in Tips & Tricks | 35 comments

How to Get Your Web Design Clients to Send You Content

When putting together a proposal for web design clients, one of the most overlooked parts of the process is also one of the most important pieces for finishing a project. Can you guess what it is?

It’s content.

As a designer, your job is to design your client the website they’ve been dreaming of. But in order to create a site, you sort of need content for the pages your designing so that you can wrap it up.

But what do you do when clients keep dragging their feet to get you what you need? Today’s article will give you some suggestions on what you can do to make sure your web designs projects don’t get held up by unresponsive clients.

Make It Easy For Your Web Design Clients

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Image Author Rimma Zaynagova via Shutterstock

Part of the reason your web design clients may be stalling in the content department is because they may not fully understand what they need to put together. As part of your proposal, you should clarify this process to make it easy for them to understand and execute.

To do this, you can create what I like to call a Content Requirement Folder as part of your proposal. The purpose of this folder is so you can either physically or digital hand over a folder with documents outlining exactly what content you need and when.

Here’s what you could include:

  • Call out the need for content for specific pages. The Home, About, Contact and Services pages all need content. List out these pages specifically so nothing gets missed.
  • Explain the type of content you need from them for each page. This is important because you want your client to give you a variety of information and assets for each page so that you’re not pasting the same thing over and over again. About pages need background information. Contact pages need addresses, phone numbers, logos, business images, written content, etc.
  • Get industry-specific quotes from them that explain what they do. Each client will have something unique to them and their industry. This information will help you understand their work so you can fill in gaps in the content if need be. You may want to list this part out as questions in the doc.
  • Put due dates for each piece of content and confirm it with your client. Adding due dates to this for them can help keep everyone on the same timeline and keeps your client in the loop.
  • Ask for URLs. Most times, your clients have social media profiles you’ll link to. Asking for this ahead of time will save you a phone call or email.

Make It Part of Your Contract

Contract proposals are one of the hardest parts of landing a client. And while it may seem like a good idea to leave things like getting content from your client up to them, chances are you’ll end up wishing you stated terms about this in writing.

So instead of kicking yourself after it’s too late, consider adding terms about content to your proposals and contracts. I’ll buffer this with saying I’m not a lawyer, but here are some ideas you could add to your web design contracts.

  • Make it clear that content for XYZ pages is your client’s responsibility. This way they can’t say you never told them this.
  • State that payment or the rest of your fee is required when the design project is complete, and content is not a factor in completion. Something along these lines will help make it clear that you won’t get stuck not getting paid even though you’ve done your job and you’re just waiting for content.
  • Charge late fees. I don’t like to do this, but it works for others and acts as a good incentive for your client to get you what you need.

This list is not exhaustive, but the point to take away here is you want to get something in writing about what you are and are not responsible for when it comes to content. And including something about payment not being contingent on content is a great way to cover your ‘you know what’ if they take forever to do it.

Offer to Write The Content For Them

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Image Author lyeyee via Shutterstock

While it would be great to have your client’s get you everything you need for their website content, many just don’t know how to put together the what you need because they’re not writers.

You might find offering to write the content for your web design clients is not only a speedier way to gather information for the site but also a great upsell for your business.

If you’re knowledgeable in the industry your client is in, then writing content could be a breeze. But if not, set up a one-on-one phone call with them where you can gather all the information you need to create the content.

Note: Don’t forget to charge for the time to talk, the time it takes to create the content, and editing if they have changes to make to your copy later.

Do They Have A Site Already? Consider Content Import Options

Sometimes, clients who come to you already have a website but are going in a new direction. This means that you may already have some copy and content at your disposal.

But let’s face it, copy and paste is something all designers hate doing. Or at least I do.

Not too long ago, I was talking with my friend Itai Sadan, CEO of Duda, about the Content Import function on their website builder. So when it came time for me to write this post it got me wondering about options to do the same with WordPress.

As far as I’ve been able to find, there isn’t a plugin or tool for WordPress that will pull all the content from one site into a new one at the click of the button so that’s a bummer.

But the next best thing is to go through and export all the posts and pages and import them into the new site. We have a great tutorial by Kevin Muldoon on our blog about how to do just this.

While it would be great to have a much easier import function than what WP has, at the end of the day, even though it’s a lot more time intensive, copy-and-pasting (while thoroughly annoying) can still be a go-to option if need be.

Wrapping It Up

Getting your client to deliver their content can be really tricky and a challenge that has frustrated more than one web designer. Hopefully, these suggestions can help get you what you need in your next project. But now I’d like to turn it over to you guys.

What do you offer or include to help get your web design clients to get you the content you need? I’m sure you all have a few tricks up your sleeve so let us know in the comments below.

Image by Author BarsRsind via Shutterstock

35 Comments

  1. Thank you for this tip :
    State that payment or the rest of your fee is required when the design project is complete, and content is not a factor in completion. Something along these lines will help make it clear that you won’t get stuck not getting paid even though you’ve done your job and you’re just waiting for content.
    This is the most important aspect I didn’t write in my contract. Now it’s going to help a lot to speed up the process and getting paid for any reasons the client to talk about

  2. Good simple article. Many of us take a non refundable deposit when starting a project. What we like to do is set a 30 day time frame for any additional content AFTER we go live with a site upon which final balance is due whether content is provided or not. Of course we commit to adding the remaining content under the project agreement when the client is ready.

    Since we also provide hosting services, failure to pay results in a redirected website.

    Often, unless the company is doing eCommerce, the website is not a front burner issue for the client. Once basic info is live, they are content with dragging the feet on the remaining content.

  3. This article comes just in time when I am dealing with a client regarding content delivery issues. I couldn’t agree more on the part when the client is dragging and stalling on delivering the contents making the project timeline longer than it’s supposed to be. Could not blame them for that entirely also because they are not in the same environment as we designer are, they can’t yet visualize the website that we are building for them in the full context so where to put the content is not that easy for them.

    Even though mock up and draft are a good starting point to get them into our FOV, the content creation itself is another issue to deal with.

    Thank you for the “Make It Part of Your Contract”. Learned it the hard way.

  4. Excellent suggestions. Almost always, when working on a website project proposal, one of the first client questions is “How long will it take from start to finish?” I have learned not to answer this in specifics but rather state that, from my experience it could take from 3 months to 1 1/2 years, depending on the clients ability to supply content and respond to requests for feedback in a timely manner.

    I have a client where I am finally finishing his site. When we started I said that it could be completed in as little as 3 months, depending on him. I started work and send him email after email requesting content and answers to questions which were all ignored. After 3 months I receive a one line email asking “Is it done yet?”

    Unfortunately this, while more extreme, is not an isolated case is fairly typical. I plan to implement several of your suggestions, especially “Make it part of your contract” which I will add “in bold print.”

    Now if you could come up with a way to get clients to pay on time my life would be a breeze.

    • One way to get clients to pay on time is to build into your contract something like this:

      “Invoices are due within 30 days of the date of the invoices. Amounts not paid within 30 days will accrue a 10% per month penalty fee. If any invoice remains unpaid after 60 days, the website will be temporarily disabled until the invoice is paid.”

      I’ve had to do that once – but it didn’t help. The client still owes me $1,300 from 2013.

      Oh, well.

  5. I got a client that even though I presented them with a well layed out plan to add content they still don’t get it.

    I may just have to add the content for them but the problem is it was not in the agreement.

    Might have to bite the bullet on this one and use this strategy for the next client.

    Thanks for the info

  6. I stay in constant contact with my clients to keep them on deadline. I do show them the mocked up pages awaiting their content with deadlines. If they have no skill at copywriting, I find other websites (in other cities or countries) that have copy that might work. We pick some copy together and then I rewrite it completely so it is their own original content. I bid the copywriting in my original contract as an option at $100 to $225 per page (depending on quantity and complexity).

  7. Thank you for the article. My clients are notorious for dragging their feet and neglecting their content. Many times I end up with a great site advertising Lorem Ipsum as a result. I really appreciate your articles.

  8. I just finished emailed a client about her content and then read this haha. So perfect thank you!

  9. how dopes your client upload the files to you if they are not in your area? I need a good way, any suggestions?

  10. Unfortunately for me, this article hits home on a personal level. Sometimes, the content that I do receive isn’t adequate enough to provide a high quality output. I would then have to find external sources, such as stock photos and vectors, to style a site the way I visualized it.

    There’s only one instance where an entire website draft laid out everything I needed, including pictures. I was a happy camper, and produced the site pretty quickly.

  11. This comes in perfect timing. I’m now looking for a content writer for a Web Hosting Business, new Empty Blog.
    thanks
    Mitch .

  12. I never have to deal with this problem. My background is sales and marketing. I decided to leave sales and start my own small business where I offer a total concept. I study every client and look what would be best for their business and propose the idea. This proposal consists of content, structure, certain solutions in the site and how to make the best conversion. In the package is also photography and possibility for graphic design for print. So bottom line is that I offer the total solution, it may be more intensive but much more fun. I get to visit companies and businesses and get to know their inner workings, people, processes and products or services, there is always a lot to learn from and useful for new clients. This also creates a very tight relation for many years where my clients trust me completely with their site. On a regular basis we have meetings where I eventually propose new ideas to keep their site up to date but also my business going. I offer also maintenance contracts for those clients that don’t want to learn to maintain the website themselves. Bottom line is my clients only have to deal with the site when we meet, I take the work out of their hands.

    • Pieter, amazing approach. I’m also organizing this systemic concept, digging inside the 3C website make clear your approach. Best Regards

  13. I love this article. I just really need it. Thanks Ariel.

  14. Words aren’y the only issue with client content. I have gone to client’s offices and photographed them and their workspace/products (for a fee) to get the project rolling.

  15. I work primarily with small businesses, and getting content is always a challenge. Clients know their products/services, not necessarily how to market them. What has worked for me is setting up several weekly calls and coaching them through the process. Having meetings set up ahead of time helps them meet and complete each weeks “home work.”

  16. Good and required stuff for me. Thank you.

  17. I’ve heard good things about GatherContent.com, which helps you assign and collect content, and then import straight into WordPress. I have not used it yet myself, but I know some who have.

  18. Excellent post, I will definitely be taking the suggestions on board.

  19. Wow, absolutely gonna include this in my proposals. Thanks Carpetcleaninghaddontownship, this is something I’ve been struggling on for my web design business in Newcastle. I’ll be showing the guys this so we can maximise efficiency and minimise stuffing around. Cheers!

  20. Ask for the money first. It will solve all your problem.

  21. Very practical tips. Only an experience one can understand the value of this. Being in web design industry for more than a decade I can relate this with my past projects. It is realy difficulct to make clients understand the difference between design and content. Most of the time they expect that content is a part of design. It’s good to clarify in the begining and plan well.

  22. My #1 tip for blank pages is to paste a few paragraphs of Lorem Ipsum.

    Most people don’t understand Lorem is a placeholder and they find it very aggravating to have on their pages. Another plus is that it gives them a sense of what they need to do – ie. write something else.

    Strange as it sounds, I’ve come to believe that until some people see Lorem on a page, they don’t make the association that they need to write something themselves.

    There are usually a couple of well-intentioned pages left over. They originally wanted them but can’t think what to put on them. I just offer to take them out of the menu for now. Clients fear if I remove the pages, they will never have that opportunity again, so usually send the content right away.

    My work partner has often found that a well-placed penguin photo or two will bring in the needed photos that are missing. I prefer to make a grey rectangle or square wherever I think an image is needed. Both grey squares and penguins seem to motivate people to send their own photos, once they see where and what is needed.

    I sometimes insert unpurchased photos with the copyright marks on them to give clients a sense of images they could use. They either ask me to buy it right away, because the copyright marks bother them, or they get inspired to do a stock photo search themselves.

  23. I don’t know that I would recommend using existing content in a website re-design, especially if it’s old and not well written. I work as a web content writer/editor, and it’s been my experience that a website in need of a redesign usually needs new content copy. My experience also tells me that most clients do not want to deal with the website themselves, particularly if it means writing content. That can be a very long wait.

    However, if you’re just doing web design, I can see why needing the client to provide copy is imperative.

  24. Great ideas. Thanks for this article.

  25. This Post is so important. The biggest problem for us to get the content from the customer. I had customers, the need 2 Years to come up with the content.

    Cheers, Jojo

  26. This Post is so important. The biggest problem for us to get the content from the customer. I had customers, the need 2 Years to come up with the content.

    Cheers, Jojo

  27. Unfortunately for me, this article hits home on a personal level. Sometimes, the content that I do receive isn’t adequate enough to provide a high quality output. I would then have to find external sources, such as stock photos and vectors, to style a site the way I visualized it..

  28. Thanks so much for this Ariel. Am actually about to design a site for a client but this client was just about to build up a site.

    Its an herculean task having to type content by myself in order to make the design works, but had it been the client already have his/her contents ready, it would makes things lots more EASIER!

  29. Thank you for such an enlightening article. So much truth relating to content. For many of my small business clients, I provided initial draft of the content where I could. But definitely, content is a major factor in launching my website, and even setting a launch date!

  30. One of the strategies we’re starting to use is to carry a camera (a cellphone would work as well) with us when we visit our client, and record everything that happens along that visit. We ask them to talk about their company, communicate their values and vision, we interview several employees, record the products and facilites, and so on.
    This may carry along some overhead work, but at least from that day on, it’s entirely up to us.
    Furthermore, we get a whole lot of footage to use in videos for our own brand (with their respective permission, of course…)

    Cheers!

  31. Wow. This is one of the most helpful articles I have read in a long time. Thanks for the valuable information. It has saved me so many hours.

  32. If a client’s website is all paid for and all it awaits is content to go live, the client is more likely to start writing sooner than later.

    Chris

  33. Great article and when clients don’t pay us on time we place the account with Tucker Albin (our lawyers) and they collect the money for us in a diplomatic fashion.

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