Microsoft Office, Website Content and A Rusty Nail In My Eye

As a professional web developer and graphic designer, I’ve always found one of the biggest challenges of a website project has been obtaining content from a client. I think many clients go into the web project with some type of field of dreams mentality, that if they just build a site, people will come irregardless of the content. I find that more than a few clients don’t seriously consider what type of content they’re going to put on their site ahead of time and those clients that are on the ball enough to actually write some content for their website usually find the the most annoying ways to deliver it.

Microsoft Word Photo Galleries

I love it when the client says, “I’ll send those photos in an email.” I wait patiently for the arrival of the imagery only to get a Word file as an attachment. I open the file to find all of the photos embedded, in a variety of sizes and in various levels of quality. Folks, please. Weren’t the files in a standard image format before you decided to open them and stick them in a format that’s primarily designed for formatting pretty text? Please, just send the orignal image files. The quality is better and believe it or not, it takes LESS time to process the multiple files than to try to painfully extract them from your document.

Excel Isn’t a Text Editor

Excel is a without a doubt a great program to handle all sorts of tablular data, but not the preferred way to send a couple of paragraphs of text. Windows Notepad is free and on pretty much every Windows machine in existence. A simple text file will do next time. Heck, if you’ve got Excel, you’ve most likely got a copy of Word. Wouldn’t a text editor of some type make a better choice to use for text? Please send a .txt file next time or I guess a Word .doc if Notepad proves to be too complex.

PowerPoint and Publisher Aren’t Web Design Tools

I know the common office worker has some sort of weird fascination with Microsoft PowerPoint. I think it’s the mesmerizing text transitions or the awesome animated clip art. I mean, who can resist a color gradient tool and those wonderful screen wipes. Although PowerPoint is fabulous for showing your sales projections to the board, it never was, and probably never will be a website design tool.

I can’t tell you how many times clients have sent over their “designs” for the website as a PowerPoint or publisher file. I’m grinding my teeth just thinking about it. I break into a cold sweat and my hands get all clammy when I click to open the file. As you can imagine, it’s usually not a pretty sight. Hello there… knock, knock. Is anyone listening? PowerPoint slides do not equal well formed web pages and neither do Publisher layouts (it’s a print layout app you do realize). Also, we don’t want to wade through every page of a huge PowerPoint or Publisher document to copy clients text and then paste it right into Notepad where we can use it.

Finally, while not specific to office applications, one last annoyance.. the infamous page of text embedded in an image. C’mon folks, just send a text file. Image files are for..well, images. Text files are for text. I’m seeing a trend here. Are you?

While we web developers love our clients prowess with the ubiquitous Microsoft Office application, I know I would much rather gouge my eye with a rusty nail than have to extract images and page content from all of these un-natural combinations. Okay, that’s probably a little dramatic but help us help you. Clients, You’ll most likely get a better end product and probably knock a few dollars off your project cost (most of us have hourly charges you know) by simplifying the whole content delivery process.

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