When Spark Logix Studios builds a new website, frequently we use placeholder content in the design.  It can be difficult for our client’s to know precisely what content they need to present to their customers, so writing the homepage content without a good idea of the layout can be a challenge.  By the same token, designing the homepage without knowing the content and message can be a challenge for even the best designer.  It’s the chicken and the egg debate.

Usually though, it’s Spark Logix Studios who moves forward, creating a design so the client can curtail their content to the new layout.  Here’s a quick example from a site we’re currently working on:

As you can see, we’ve designed a layout, made some suggestions as far as what the content could be geared towards, knowing their market and having chatted with them prior to undertaking the design, and we’ve used “Lorem Ipsum” text to demonstrate roughly how much text should go in particular areas.  We then send the design to the client, along with a note saying “Send over the content as soon as you’re able”.  So then what?

Then the Client should review the design, and put together the text and images needed to finish the site.  If you look at the example above, you’ll see that we include the pixel dimensions for the placeholder images (the black boxes with white numbers), to make selecting and cropping an image that much easier for our client.  All images should be at most between 72 and 144 DPI, anything more than that will slow down your site load times.

But how should you send your content?

Well, the easiest and best way, is via Basecamp.  First, you pull up your project, and then click on the to-do list, and add a new to-do list titled “Content”.

Then, click “Add a new to-do”, and title the new task using the name of the first page of content you want to send over, and assign it to the Project Manager for your project (probably me).

Once you have created the task, click on the name of the task to pull up the task discussion.

From there, it’s a simple matter of adding the content, with clear instructions on what should go where.  Attached is an example of what your message should look like, including attachments and image instructions.  One thing to keep in mind, if your text is significantly longer or shorter than the placeholder “Lorem Ipsum” text we use, it can throw the layout off.  In the example above, if the text in the blue boxes is 6 sentences on the left, 2 sentences on the right, that will make the design look off balance, pushing down the button on one side.  If you want less text, you can alter it, but try to balance the amount of content on both sides.  You can attach PDFs, if you’d like a button for users to download them, and make alterations or requests to the layout.  Here’s an example of what that could look like.

By following this simple pattern for each page, the site can be very efficiently updated, content replaced, and your new website completed in a very short amount of time.  By using Basecamp, you can help us help you keep your website development clean and organized, and keep communication clean.

What not to do

Here are some hot tips, based on experience, on what things to avoid when sending over content:

  1. Don’t send over the text in a word document.  Basecamp can do everything you need it to, and Word Docs just add an extra step to the process.  If we have a question, we can easily point to it in basecamp, it requires everyone to download and open the document.  If you need to make adjustments, just add a new basecamp message, or you can even edit your previous one.
  2. Don’t send over the content in a Power Point Presentation.  Seriously.  This has happened.  Multiple times.
  3. Make sure images are the correct size.  We include the correct pixel dimensions for a reason, not as a polite suggestion, to account for responsive design.  If they are too small, we can’t use them (they will be blown up and pixelated on mobile devices).  If they are too big, we can crop and resize them, but that costs prepaid hours, and we want to save you money.  Unless you don’t mind paying us to do it.  We’re always happy to accept your money.
  4. Don’t just send over three paragraphs of text with no indication of where they should go.  We can’t read your mind (we really wish we could) so be clear when you are sending content, and let us know where it should go.
  5. Understand that if you want to completely change the layout, there will likely be additional costs.  We’re happy to update the layout of the pages, and make any changes you want.  But, if we’re completely re-doing 17 page designs, we will likely have to dip into prepaid time to do so.  It comes back to that chicken and egg debate, if you have a particular design in mind, please let us know before we design the page, not after.

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