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Archive for February 20th, 2009

I learned a big lesson this week. I took on an unfamiliar topic and an unfamiliar work habit at the same time, on the same project. As Sheriff Taylor might say:

shouldnt-orta2

I was all happy about tackling this new biotech client. Big new client, new subject matter…just new, you know? And I have had some success in the past boiling down complex subject matter for regular folks.

In my enthusiasm, however, I ignored one important element of that past success.  You see, one thing I like to do when I write web content, is to nail down the introductory page. Whatever you call it – Landing page, Home, About, etc – this page is a microcosm of the entire site. It has all the DNA (so to speak) of the rest of the site, boiled down to 200 words or so.  So, I usually like to nail that one down, submit it, and then wait.  I don’t write another word until they tell me I have at least captured the essence of the company and their message on the landing page. This way, if it’s a complete air ball, I have only wasted a couple of hours.

Yeah, well, that didn’t happen this time.  For whatever reason (maybe the client was blasting off for a long business trip and wanted to read on the plane…not unreasonable) they wanted to see as much as I could get done by a certain date.  I knew this was a bad idea. I should have pushed back, but did not.  So I sat down to write.

And, of course, it was all wrong. Eight web pages and 12 hours of wrong.  To his credit, the client was gracious as hell, not angry or suddenly doubting the decision to hire me.  And while it was depressing to see all the red ink on the pages coming across the desk at me, I could only blame myself for not following my instinct and doing it the way that works for me.

As I see it, clients aren’t just hiring talent and experience, they are also hiring a work style. Like I said a couple of weeks ago about taping and transcribing the discovery meeting: useful or wasteful, it’s what I do. I budget for that time, I bill it, and the client is aware of it.

So, consider this to be the latest instinct that has made the jump to an official work habit. “The writer will compose and submit a representative page that encompasses the client’s company, industry, ideals, etc. The writer will submit that page only, and wait for critique before continuing.”  BOOM!

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Have a good weekend. Enjoy the Oscars, but remember, Sunday is a school night (for everyone but ME, suckers!) Go Slumdog!!!

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