Need Something Changed On Your Website? Treat Me Like a Six-Year-Old (Really)

Chris Coyier //

I used to work in pre-press before I got into web design. I worked at three different somewhat large printing shops. Pre-press is the department that is in between clients (designers) files and actually getting those files to press. It might not be obvious, but there is a TON of work that needs to be done to prepare client files to actually be printed and through the bindery. This isn't the time or place to get into all that grisly detail, but once that process is done, typically a final proof is produced to be signed off on by the client. This is to make sure that nothing happened during all the preparation for press that screwed up the piece.

It is not uncommon for there to be changes that come back on proofs. This process of changes needs to be streamlined in a print shop. People are working on many different jobs and it's impossible to keep everything in your head all at once. If you were to send a pre-press tech an email like this:

Hey Chris, on that brochure, can you change that date to March 19th instead of March 21st? Thanks.

That pre-press tech would laugh at you (then cry) then email you back telling you to screw your head back on and send an actual change request. What brochure? What client? What job number? What page? Where on that page? Where is this job right now? Is this the last change? The first? Are you going to pepper me with little changes like this all day or could you have held off an sent them all at once?

So what does this have to do with the web?

It's the same thing for web designers. Most of us maintain several different websites for several different clients. To the client, their website is their whole world, so it makes perfect sense to them when they shoot you an email asking you to change a date quick. But when we open that email, we get the uhmmmmmmm....what feeling.

I would much prefer being treated like a six year old. Not being talked down to, just being VERY VERY clear about what is needed:

  • What page needs changing (URL link!)
  • Does it appear in multiple places?
  • What does it say now?
  • What should it say?
  • When does it need to be done?

It's our job to teach people to treat us this way

Just be nice about it, they'll understand.