You Make the Design
We Give You The Content
So, I’m over at my friend Tim’s web and mobile design firm the other day. He’s building this wireframe for a site redesign with little feedback from the client’s end-users. His client’s marketing director had sent a survey to learn what employees wanted to see on the new site. The survey contained several high-level questions inviting comments about what was working and what wasn’t on the current site. Sixty-five percent of the workforce responded, which was pretty good, based on Tim’s experience. The client wanted to increase the number of visits to their site and convert them into blog subscribers and business prospects. But, alas, they hadn’t budgeted for front-end development work related to content strategy and information architecture.
So this was the deal (maybe you can relate):
- Little thought had been given to the site’s current content assets, such as what to do with archived and legacy-based content; no usability tests were conducted to learn how visitors used the site to complete tasks and find what they needed.
- Little was done to ensure that content would be delivered to the right audience segments (such as millennial business owners) through creation of audience profiles or personas to address their needs.
- Few site improvement recommendations were made and none were based on information architecture or content owner feedback, the site’s most frequently visited pages or web analysis gleaned from competitive sites.
Still, Tim tried to shrug it off: “Embrace the risk,” he muttered, smiling wryly. He needed to get back to work and was trying to do so when something welled up in his stomach: content-angst, that sickening feeling he had on many design jobs. It was undeniable. See, Tim had mad skills and could design beautiful sites and applications in a snap. But he was anxious about the site’s rich content demands. Would he be able to deliver results without proper content alignment and positioning? Maybe or maybe not. It was risky business.
Tim felt frustrated. He and his colleagues had been chasing down content from department heads in HR, Operations, Sales and PR for weeks, trying to learn how content should be changed or updated on the new site. Also, if he was honest, none of the copywriters on his team had strong skills when it came to information architecture, content strategy and packaging content across web, mobile, app and print platforms. In the end, he’d make a best guess judgment call on the site’s content demands, despite the fact that chasing down content had consumed 40 to 45% of his time on the project, precious time he could have spent doing the thing he loves—the thing that inspired him to go into business in the first place—Design Work.
At times like this on projects like these, he told me, it would be great to offload content-related concerns to a copywriter who understands content strategy, content creation and information architecture. Doing so would provide a better understanding of the task-driven actions and paths end-users were taking using the site’s current navigation menus.
Then he could feel confident about delivering beautiful, user-friendly sites with great content—content that actually gets read and shared, that increases sales and builds customer loyalty and staff engagement. What’s more, sites and applications he created this way would probably enhance his reputation, which could result in additional business.
“Heck, with time saved from the elimination of content-related concerns I could pursue new clients and make more money doing what I love to do—designing, rather than endless content-chasing,” Tim said.
“Yes, and more time designing exceptional web and mobile sites, awesome apps and intranets sounded great, but how?” he asked.
Design work without the hassle of content-related concerns. Sounds off-the-hook, right?
Truth is, there’s a way for designers like Tim to get started on this path today.
The Best Way for Designers to Handle Content Concerns: Copywriters Who Understand Content Strategy
Hi, I’m Dom Crincoli: I’m a content guy. In lesser days they called people like me writers, but that’s so yesterday now. 😉 After starting my career as a journalist and regular contributor to The New York Times, I’ve built my reputation as a corporate communication, content strategy and marketing consultant during the past 20 years, helping organizations you’d recognize achieve their employee communication, content marketing, and intranet engagement goals. You might say I’ve developed some pretty good copywriting and content creation skills during this time along with a nerd-like fascination with content strategy. Right (gasp!), I actually like this stuff!
I’m not superhuman and don’t pretend to be. I’m just someone willing to roll up his sleeves and perform the due diligence necessary to produce effective content strategy, information architecture and content creation—content that actually gets read and shared!
The A-ha! moment came during breakfast with my wife one morning. You see, design firms I knew were building client sites with very little content strategy, information architecture, and end-user feedback while complaining about bottlenecks from content-related concerns. Copywriting and content strategy were obstacles preventing them from doing the site design work they really loved to do.
So I combined these skills to form Crincoli Communications in 2009. Now design firms offload the copywriting and content work they don’t enjoy doing to me and I have the opportunity to do what I love while making a decent living!
We hear this a lot: “I didn’t know there were folks out there that offered this service.”
Listen, it’s not your fault if you didn’t know these services were available! You didn’t know, and that’s what’s been holding you back! But there are some good reasons why it’s CHEAPER to hire a copywriter and content guy like me rather than doing it yourself.
See, traditionally, information architecture had been a siloed discipline, something you might have relied on for ultra-complicated design projects. But content strategy and info architecture are now fully integrated at most marketing organizations due to the growing emphasis on social engagement goals, marketing calls-to-action and lead generation, That’s why designers need a fluid crossover solution—someone to address lead-up/front-end development content issues who can then work with you to build out fresh, relevant content for the fabulous sites you’re already designing for clients.
Truth is you can continue to do it yourself, but that’s not going to work well for you in the long run, where you’ll continue to drag yourself down with tedious content-related concerns. But offloading to copywriters who understand info architecture will free you up to focus on what you do best while growing your business with sites that build your reputation.
We’ve heard this too: “I can do this myself” or “I don’t really need this.”
Maybe you think content strategy and front-end development aren’t necessary or that it’s still ok to offload this work to one of the copywriters or designers on your staff. True, there are some free content strategy templates available out there and you could mod them for your own use. And yes, you’re right, you could probably continue to get by doing that. But you probably have seven other things you’d rather be doing instead of worrying about content! And while you could do it yourself, should you continue to do it yourself? It might mean 40 hours of additional work for you and your staff and, in the end, you’ll never be sure you achieved the best result informed by content strategy.
Your site’s end-users could wind up like this dude:
Is that how to put your best foot forward? Is that going to make people want to pay you the premium price you deserve? Or do you think this kind of result will invite haggling from future potential clients?”
What’s more, the sites you create with us will enhance your reputation, delivering a user-friendly experience for your client’s end-users with content that designed to convert, increase sales, and build customer loyalty and staff engagement. More importantly, you’ll most likely make more money in the long run, since the time-savings accrued from working with us will free you up for new client engagements, where you’ll spend more time doing what you love to do: Design Work, rather than endless content-chasing.
Copywriting and Content Strategy for Designers (Why You Should Care)
So, many of the designers we’ve met say getting content from customers is the hardest, most frustrating part of web, app and mobile design work.
That’s because websites, e-commerce sites, apps and intranets often have multiple audiences and multiple content owners, so the copywriter, designer, or other team members at your organization need to chase down someone in HR, someone in marketing, someone in operations, etc. to get content.
Seriously, wouldn’t it be helpful to have someone to liaison with clients for copywriting and content strategy work?
I believe the only RIGHT way for designers to address their content needs involves hiring a copywriter who understands information architecture, user experience and content strategy.
- You can eliminate the headache of trying to get content from clients. Offload it to us! We interface with clients and take care of this for you so you can spend more time doing what you love: designing more sites and apps and making more money!
- Build better sites in less time, so you can spend more time creating cool designs and making more money rather than classifying, chasing and writing content.
- We’re past the point where content-rich organizations can say, content is king. What’s needed now are content creators who understand how to package content to the ways we now access it, engaging readers across desktop, mobile, app and print platforms.
- Seize the opportunity to eliminate content-angst on your next website or app design project—once and for all!—so you can focus once again on your awesome design work.
More specifically, here’s what to expect when working with us:
During Week 1, we’ll set up two phone calls to talk about what you’re looking for. On the first phone call, we will talk about your vision and goals. I might ask you questions like: “Describe your current process, including what success looks like, when handling content-related concerns on your current design projects.” Or, “Help me to understand your biggest challenge(s) or the business pain you’re experiencing related content-related concerns.” Then I might ask what you could be doing with the time-savings if you offloaded this work to us, and what additional business opportunities you might be able to pursue as a consequence.”
On the second phone call, we’ll go over some options for working with us on your next design project. You can tell me which ones you like, and which ones you don’t like. This way, we’ll make sure we’re on the same page, and you’ll get a content strategy and a level of service that you love.
I’ll send you 3 different content strategy options and levels of service for you choose from—and you’ll pick the one that’s PERFECT for you, your design work, and your brand. If you don’t like any of these options, we’ll go back to the drawing board and you’ll receive 3 more options… and we’ll do it over and over again until we either a) find something you love, or b) part ways as friends.
Once we’re clear on the best way to collaborate and our mutual branding direction, I’ll put a final estimate together detailing our scope of work that you can fold into your overall proposal or provide to your client separately. You’ll then present the proposal to your client and, if needed, we can then join you at the initial sales or project kickoff meeting, either in-person or virtually.
- You’ll present your design proposal with confidence, knowing that all content-related concerns related to front-end development will be addressed thoroughly and efficiently.
- You’ll distinguish yourself from competition that doesn’t not have this kind of laser-like focus on content and information architecture, and be less likely to be subject to haggling on price and “commoditization” of your design work in the marketplace.
- You’ll focus on doing the thing you love to do: Design, rather than classifying and chasing content, and that will make your work enjoyable again.
- With the new time-savings you’ve gained from offloading content concerns, you’ll be freed up to hunt for and acquire new business.
Then, here’s what your client will receive, depending on your choice of Standard or Advanced Package:
- Stakeholder report: Maps out project content goals and success metrics
- Information Architecture (IA): IA is one of the most cost effective and often overlooked ways of increasing your clients’ end-user satisfaction. We gather user information from card sorts and reverse sort research and use it to build a great IA. We use the IA to help you redesign navigation menus, content classification, and page layout, so your clients’ sites or applications support the way their users think about the world.
- Site Review Report: High-level improvement suggestions that focus on usability, design and content, which are based on all (or a representative sampling) of the site’s most frequently used microsites/pages and a comparative web analysis gleaned from pages of other competitive sites
- Content Improvement Report: Excel spreadsheet (builds on clients’ site asset inventory and existing content-based taxonomy) that maps site review recommendations to page URLs, content owners, and recommendations for content to stay or be archived. Created by us and distributed to your clients’ content owners in different business units, this report provides actionable guidance for content owners (which they, in turn, provide to the site developer) before uploading content to the redesigned site or application.
- Persona Creation: Ensures content is delivered to audience segments (such as Millennial business owners) and addresses their needs by creating profiles for each audience group, called personas.
Everything in the Standard Package, along with
- Content Marketing Communication & Lead Generation Plan: An iterative, ongoing continuous improvement plan to increase ad revenue, and the number of marketing qualified leads (members) and on-and-off-line subscribers
- Copywriting Reboot/Refresh: Breathes new life into all kinds of content on your client’s site. Reboot/Refresh builds on Communication Audit and Site Improvement Report, where we work with content owners to furnish results-driven content site recommendations.
- Continuous Improvement & Iterative Design Support: Ongoing support, growth-driven design and iterative content improvement suggestions based on content marketing analysis, A/B testing (e.g., headline and call-action testing), retargeting results.
- One-On-One Coaching Sessions for Online Writing, where content owners will learn how to position and package content strategically across all communication channels (web and mobile, email, app, print).
What Others Have Said…
Outstanding service. We were looking for an efficient low-cost service to help market our brand and presence in the New York Market and Dom and his team hit the mark. Dom’s ability both on developing a marketing strategy as well as designing our blog and website were top-notch. Dom is an asset to any organization and I would highly recommend his services.
Ross Krasnow, Vice President of NY Operations at Hays Companies
I highly recommend Dom Crincoli and Crincoli Communications Consulting. We recently asked Dom to help us with our communication strategy and rebranding project, and the results were spectacular. He was able to deliver strategic content and business results, accomplishing this within an extremely tight time frame and within budget. He is creative and professional, and worked with our employees like he was part of our organization, not an outside consultant.
Dom is a gifted writer and communicator: That is why we refer to him as our “write” knight!
Tom Mason, Global HR Executive, JC Decaux of North America
Dom’s expertise with content strategy and content creation has taken my business, Victoria James Executive Search, Inc. to the next level, transforming my website into an SEO-friendly lead generation vehicle that highlights our thought leadership. Dom is someone willing to roll up his sleeves and perform the due diligence necessary to produce an effective content strategy and his editorial and content skills are astonishing. I knew I needed to share content highlighting our recruiting expertise and thought leadership in a way that could build my business. But I had used my blog only sparingly and wasn’t sure where to begin. Now, with Dom’s help, I’ve found my voice through blogging and I’m producing and promoting content that converts—content that gets read and shared among our friends and colleagues and helps build my business. Crincoli Communications isn’t the cheapest game in town, but the responsiveness, strategy and personal touch I receive from them are well worth the additional cost. Content mills and other broken approaches to content creation are not worthy to be compared. Succinctly stated, Dom is an amazing writer….!
Victoria James, President at Victoria James Executive Search, Inc.
I retained Dom’s services for content marketing, business development and lead generation while working at Lockton Companies and Willis Towers Watson. Dom created a content marketing strategy and tactics (blog content, email marketing, measurement, social engagement and positioning) that worked to build my business and the authority of my company’s offerings with clients. He creates content that converts and was exceptionally flexible and responsive. Also, he provided me with measured results from our content marketing campaign to quantify our marketing campaign. Finally, he is uniquely qualified to provide well-written, concise content at below- market industry rates. Yes, I would strongly consider Dom Crincoli for the aforementioned services.
Rob Ruotolo, Vice President & Risk Advisor at Willis Towers Watson
Dominick oversaw the communication plan for the rollout of Pitney Bowes’ My Total Rewards Statement and had much to do with the achievement of PB’s stretch metric (55% sign-on in the first six months). Dominick also oversaw an aggregated intranet knowledge center was also involved in furthering the goals of the employee value proposition and preparing the way for My Total Rewards. He was a committed, passionate member of the team.
- Stakeholder Report
- Information Architecture
- Site Review Report
- Content Improvement Report
- Persona Creation
- Stakeholder Report
- Information Architecture
- Site Review Report
- Content Improvement Report
- Persona Creation
- Content Marketing Communication & Lead Generation Plan
- Copywriting Reboot/Refresh
- Continuous Improvement & Iterative Design Support
- One-On-One Coaching Sessions for Online Writing
In addition to certain guarantees provided by law, we guarantee your satisfaction with our services and support. If you are not satisfied with our services, please contact us immediately and we will correct the situation or offer credit that can be used for future business we do together (see terms and conditions).