There is nothing like a great, initial discovery session with a client. You feel inspired by their passion, they in turn are excited about your ideas for bringing their goals to life, online. The requirements are set. The deadlines are agreed to. The stakeholders have all been interviewed. There’s just one problem: Never-ending revisions.
Let’s be honest, revisions are vital. No one wants to navigate a website that is riddled with errors, inaccurate information, or broken links. Nothing ruins your online reputation faster than a website that does not appear to be legitimate or professional.
However, a poor revision process can completely jeopardize a successful website launch, as well as its ongoing maintenance.
Here are our eight tips for avoiding and eliminating never-ending revisions.
1.) Set boundaries:
From the initial contract, statement of work, or scope document- make sure that your client is aware and in agreement of the amount of revisions that their project allows. And, be clear as to what is entailed in each round of revisions.
- Do you allow only one page of edits?
Or, will you accept 10 pages of edits in one document as a round of revisions?
- Who will you accept edits from? Everyone who wants to send edits, or one dedicated project manager?
- How many rounds of revisions are allowed for each deliverable?
Wireframes? Design? Copy?
- Should edits be sent in one, consolidated Word document, or do you allow clients to send you one-off edits in emails, Basecamp, and text messages?
- After how many rounds of revisions do you start charging overage fees?
- At what point should you flag your client to let them know that the deadline is in jeopardy?
- How many days do you truly need to make revisions? And how many days does your client and their team need to review your work? Rushing through edits does nothing but lead to late nights and unnecessary mistakes.
2.) Know your client:
Some clients have one individual who is responsible for making all decisions. Others have groups of individuals who will review changes. Make sure that you know upfront who the key decision makers are, and what role they have in making editorial changes and granting approval. Nothing can impact your project faster than editing by committee.
3.) Go There:
Also-if your client is someone who works better in-person, meet with them. We often find that reviewing wireframes or design comps on-site with clients gives us the most thorough and definitive edits. And, be open to your client’s feedback. Respectfully defend your work, expertise, and decisions, but be even more respectful in supporting your client’s objectives and needs.
4.) Content is both political and personal:
As content drives information architecture, design, and development- it carries a lot of weight. Content is also a point of controversy and focus. Some of the most contentious content that we work with our clients on falls under the About Us and What We Do sections of their website. Everyone wants to make sure that their department is appropriately featured, and that the content truly fulfills their goals. We recommend having unique planning sessions to address hot topic content areas.
We also recommend that content editing focuses on four key areas:
- Substance: This includes review of the cohesion and clarity of the content.
- Copyediting: The nuts and bolts- typos, grammar, and consistency.
- Fact checking and source cited: Give credit where credit is due, and ensure that the content is accurate.
- SEO: Search engine optimization should be a part of both the writing and editorial process.
Please note: Designers are not editors. And editors are not designers. Make sure that major content changes are addressed with your writers, and that design feedback happens with your creative team. When possible, streamline these edits through the dedicated project manager.
5.) Don’t forget analytics:
When clients get stuck on where something should or should not go on the website, always refer back to your analytics as well as what you’ve heard through surveys, focus group, social media, etc. from those that care about your content most: your consumers.
6.) Be clear:
To make revisions work between web partners and clients, be clear about revisions. Clients should avoid ambiguity (not sure what we want here, but we don’t like the way it is)and adding questions in revisions (do you think this should be adding value, or providing services?). And, don’t be afraid to show examples from other sites or projects that you like.
7.) Set a schedule:
During the web project, use your project plan to clearly identify the editing process- both on the agency side and the client side. Be honest about turn-around times for both parties. After launch, set a clear schedule of when edits (those that can’t be made by the client themselves) will happen, and how long it will take for them to appear on the site.
8.) Speak now, but don’t forever hold your peace.
Every client wants to nail the launch of their website, or of a new content section. However, this should not mean delaying a project out of fear that something can’t be changed.
We see this a lot with new clients… They are coming from a negative experience with their previous web partner that was either unresponsive to editing requests, or- they were forced to manage their website in a cumbersome content management system. This is where it is imperative to share with your clients the ease of making additional edits, and even more important: Letting them know how many donations, sales, and connections they miss out on by allowing their same, old poorly performing website to stay online another day. No website should keep the same content. A dynamic, engaging site must stay updated. During those updates, edits and site upkeep should occur.
A web project that never launches due to a never-ending revision cycle can ruin your budget, kill your deadline, jeopardize your business generation, and can reduce morale for your staff and your web partner.