How we work

Although everything we do reads beautifully and looks stunning, there’s a lot more to it than just pretty words and pictures. Every word and every page is crafted with one single objective: to make you more money.

1. Before we start

1.1. Scope

First and foremost, we have to understand what you need. Not just how many pages, and what those pages are, but what your business objectives are, your overarching content strategy, your SEO strategy and your broader marketing strategy.

To achieve this, we’ll usually give you a call when you first contact us. Unless, of course, you’d prefer to email this information; we’ll work however you want to. But generally we find there’s no substitute for a good, old-fashioned conversation.

1.2. Quote

Armed with this knowledge, we’ll provide you with a quote for your project. Usually fixed-price, and usually just in email format to begin with. We’re not big on paperwork overhead.

If you feel the quote needs revision for some reason – e.g. we missed something in the scope, or you want to revise the scope – just let us know, and we’ll revise it accordingly, and resend.

Once you’re happy with the quote, we’ll email a proper written proposal with a contract of works (including scope of work, approximate time frame, number of included reviews, inclusions, exclusions, and terms & conditions). We don’t leave anything to chance. When we all know what to expect, everyone’s happy.

Our proposal has an Approval of Quote form in it. When you’re ready to go ahead, just sign, scan and email the form back to us.

1.3. First instalment

We’ll then send you an invoice for the first 50%, payable before commencement.

We prefer payment by EFT, direct to our bank account. But if you prefer paying by credit card, you can do that too (using Stripe, TransferWise or PayPal).

2. The planning stage

2.1. Discovery

By this stage, we’ll already know quite a bit about your business and requirements. But to do a great job, we’ll need to learn a lot more. To convey the true value of your offering, we must truly understand it first. And your target market.

So we ask lots of questions to ensure we get the lay of the land:

  • What are the benefits of your offering?
  • Why is it unique or better?
  • What claims do you want to make about it?
  • How would you describe the personality of your brand?
  • Who is your target visitor?
  • What do they need and want?
  • Why are they at your site?
  • How did they get there? (e.g. Search engine? Sales letter?)
  • Why should they trust you?
  • What pages do you need?
  • What’s your call to action?
  • And so on…

See also what information we require…

We can get a lot of what we need over the phone – particularly the high-level and subtle information. (For most projects, we include up to 2-hours of phone-time in our fixed-price quote.) For the rest – especially the low-level, page-by-page detail – we’d usually send you a questionnaire.

2.1. Planning

This is where we sit down and figure out exactly how we’re going to do the job.
An important part of this stage is imagining that your business is our own. That our profits will be directly linked to the effectiveness of what we’re writing and designing. That puts us in exactly the right frame of mind to think about the very best approach.

It’s also important that we don’t assume you’re right. This may sound counter-intuitive, but once we’ve put all the pieces together, we often come to the conclusion that the message you had in mind isn’t quite right. Perhaps you’re focusing on the technical brilliance of your product, when your target audience is really interested in the time-saving benefits. Perhaps your page structure doesn’t guide your reader to the information they’ll find most compelling. Whatever the case, we don’t just nod our heads and blindly follow your instructions. We explain what we think is required, and why. Then if you still want to proceed as you’d planned, we do it with a smile.

For the most part, the planning stage will be transparent to you, because most of it happens in our heads and on our whiteboard. But we may call or email you if we need some extra guidance or we want to run an idea past you.

3. Writing & wireframing

3.1. Copy & wireframes

Once we have enough information, we get stuck into the writing and wireframes process.

Like the planning stage, the writing stage will be pretty transparent to you. We’ll retreat to our offices and do what writers do: Write, think, read, draw, research, think, re-write, read aloud in a radio DJ voice, delete entire passages, re-write, think, read, get grumpy, go for a walk, come back to it with a clear head, and repeat the entire process.

We won’t show you anything we’ve done until we’re entirely happy with it. And we’re perfectionists!

3.2. Client copy review

We’ll supply all drafts for review in Google Docs format. Your first round of review will usually be a short Proof of Style piece, to ensure we’re on the mark with the general feel of the copy. When you’re happy with the style, we’ll write the first draft of the rest of your copy.

Depending on the job, we’ll probably also supply a wireframe of the Proof of Style copy in-situ. A wireframe is a digital sketch showing our recommended structure and layout for the page, along with calls to action, the main navigation menu and usually some tips regarding the user experience. We supply wireframes in JPEG or PDF format. Learn more about our wireframes…

Once you’ve approved the Proof of Style, we’ll write the rest of the copy, and prepare the rest of the wireframes (usually one for each page that will require a unique design).

Importantly, you won’t need a Google/Gmail account to review any of the Google Docs documents we send you. Just click the link to view it in any browser. You can also send the link to other reviewers, and they won’t need a Google/Gmail account either.

If you require changes, you can call or email us, or add comments to the document itself. You can even edit the copy directly. Google Docs tracks your changes automatically (so you won’t have to use a different colour or underline your changes, etc.).

It’s important to note that the review process can take quite a bit of your time. You’ll need to read through the copy line by line, to ensure that it not only reads well, but that it also meets your objectives. The only way you’ll get exactly what you want is to provide detailed, constructive criticism. It’s not enough to say, “I don’t like it” or “It’s not quite what I was after.” If you do that, we’ll have no idea how to fix things, and we’ll just ask for more information. In order to deliver the results you’re after, we need to hear things like, “The second paragraph is a bit too formal, and it hasn’t really conveyed the benefit of my product effectively. It needs to really reinforce the fact that the customer will save 5 minutes every time they use this widget.”

3.3. Copy revisions

We’ll then make your requested changes and send back for re-review.

If we’re working to a fixed price, you get two rounds of review changes included (unless agreed otherwise). In other words, you get first draft, second draft and final version. Of course, that’s only if you require two rounds of revisions. Usually we get there after just one round.

4. Designing

4.1. Design

If you also engage us for design (e.g. website design, app design, logo design), we’ll start work as soon as you’ve approved the copywriting Proof of Style.

For web design, brochure design, whitepaper design, etc., Ian (our creative director) uses the wireframe as his guide for the information elements required on the page, and the relationships between each element.

4.2. Client design review

For most design work, we provide two or more design concepts for you to choose between. Then we refine the one you choose.

For logo design, these concepts are black and white only, to begin with. This ensures you’re not distracted by colour preferences when you should be focusing on how well the concept works. Once you’ve chosen your favourite, we develop it further, and ultimately send through with a few different colour variations to choose from.

We send our design concepts and drafts through as JPEGs, and you can email or call us with your feedback.

4.3. Design revisions

We’ll then make your requested changes and send back for re-review.

If we’re working to a fixed price, you get two rounds of review changes included (unless agreed otherwise). In other words, you get first draft, second draft and final version. Of course, that’s only if you require two rounds of revisions. Usually we get there after just one round.

5. Developing

5.1. Development

If we’re building your website or web app, we’ll make a start once the wireframes and design are 100% signed off.

If we’re building software for you, work starts much earlier, because there’s a lot of business analysis, specification writing and database design to get through, and we can typically do that while the creative is being produced.

We’ll build your website, web app or software on our own servers. This is called a ‘staging server’. No live users will be able to see or use it (nor will Google), and if you have an existing live site, app or program, it will remain completely unaffected while its replacement is being built.

5.2. Testing

Once we’ve finished development, we test. A lot.

For a website or web app, this means testing that everything looks and functions as expected on all modern browsers (the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, Safari, iPhone and Android).

We have a number of hardware devices (Windows, Mac and ChromeOS computers, iPhones, iPads, Android phones and Android tablets) in-house that we perform real, physical tests on. And we also use a service called BrowserStack to simulate a range of other devices, browsers and display resolutions.

For web apps and software, we also test against your functional specifications.

Once testing is complete, we’ll send you a link and ask you to test. (Although with web apps and software, the review process tends to be more iterative, as development progresses.)

5.3. Client testing

This is where you get you to put your website, web app or software through its paces.

You don’t have to be anywhere near as thorough as us, but it’s still a good idea to take a look at each page and test all functionality, just to be sure you’re entirely happy with it.

5.4. Development revisions

If you spot any problems, we’ll fix them and then we’re ready to go live.

6. Handover

The handover step varies depending on what you engage us to do:

  • For copy, we supply the final version of your copy in a Google Docs document. (Again, no Google sign-in required for access.)
  • For wireframes, we supply JPEG and PDF files.
  • For web design, we supply layered Photoshop (PSD) files to your developer (or our developer if we’re also building your site).
  • For print artwork, we supply artwork files in either InDesign or Illustrator. We always supply the raw files, indd files or aii files, and package the artwork and press ready for printing.
  • For websites and web apps, we upload the site/app to your host’s server, turn on search engine access as appropriate.
  • For websites, we also provide user logins to WordPress so you can maintain the content and menus within the site yourself.