Do I charge extra for wireframes? And what if the client already has a design?
October 11, 2013 • Glenn Murray
Yesterday I posted an update on Google+ about writing copy within a wireframe. Two of my favourite copywriters, Kate Toon and Anna Butler, asked some very good questions in the comments. I thought I’d write a blog post to answer them properly.
“Do you charge extra for the wireframes or include it in your cost? What do you do if the design is already underway?”
“…if a website is being designed independently, how do you align your vision with the web developer’s? (For existing sites I imagine you would just work off the existing layout.)
And do you also provide clients with the content in a Word doc so they can easily edit it, or do you have another trick up your sleeve for this?”
Do I charge extra for the wireframes? – No. In most cases, I find the wireframe actually makes things quicker.
What if the design is already done or underway? – If the design is already done, I simply write around it. (Unless it’s really bad, in which case, I offer our services to re-design it.) If the design is underway, I ask if I can do the wireframe for the designer. If they won’t let me, again, I work within the designer’s constraints. Note that working to the designer’s constraints isn’t ideal, because you end up tailoring the copy to the design, when it should be the other way around. (That’s kinda like trying to edit client-supplied copy. It’s never going to be as good as something written from scratch. You can hear my thoughts about that in this old video post…) But it’s still better than writing in isolation.
Do I also supply a Word doc? – Yes. But not immediately. Usually I supply just the wireframe to begin with. This also serves as a proof of style. Then, once they have the idea, I switch over to Microsoft Word, and handle the rest of the review process with it. This is also important from the designer’s point of view, because it’s much easier to grab the copy out of Word than Balsamiq. And I certainly don’t want anyone re-typing it! That always ends in tears: Typos, spelling mistakes, punctuation errors… I’ve even had designers change the wording, so it’s more to their liking!
I’m working on a project, right now, where the design is already underway. As discussed above, I wrote the copy in Word. Here’s a screenshot of it:
As you can see, I made it visually similar to the design, so they’d know what all the bits were. The position of my headline was still a bit ambiguous, though, so I included a screenshot of the wireframe underneath my copy, and a line pointing from my headline to the wireframe headline.