Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020
I started this morning knowing I had to “fire a client,” or, more realistically, step away from a situation where there wasn’t really anything I could do to help, and the things that the president of the organization said in an email made it clear that they had already headed off in another, more expensive direction.
Okay then, farewell, and the best of luck. (If I didn’t precisely say “best of luck,” I also managed to avoid saying “you’ll need it.”)
This nonprofit spent several years struggling to get any of their people to create fresh content for the website, and then bemoaned that it just seemed stale, it needed a refresh. That syndrome, which can happen to for-profits, non-profits, and single-person web presences alike, befalls projects where the website is viewed as something that is designed by mystery coding wizards and then, well, there it is! And when it’s not right, then…design again! That’s usually a sign that the client has no idea from what seed a website grows. It is, when stripped of fancy styles, fonts, colors, and images, a container for content, and someone has to sit down and literally (yes! really! you!) write the content.
If you’re huge enough, you can pay a professional to do the writing, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t assume you can say “ok, so write stuff!” and step away and that’s it. Sometimes, it’s much more work to bring writers up to speed on the workings, thinking, ethics, and sensitive areas of what you do. Ironically, some of these people (I’m thinking of the folks from this morning) are professionally trained in writing—creating intelligible reports is part of their job description. They have advanced degrees!
But they are also swayed by the bright and shiny and they will now use their members’ hard-earned dues to pay for that. As for me, well, it feels kinda good to step away and close that file folder.