Things not to give your site designer
To make your website

What works, what doesn't, and what's preferable, for data formats


The means by which we communicate ideas in the current day, are myriad, and sending ideas and images, text etc. to your website designer, is just one of the the many tasks we perform.

A few pointers on what formats not to use for sending that information, and tips on making the process flow a bit easier, and be less costly and time consuming, for everyone concerned.



PPS or PPT (power point) files:

A very good format for getting a general idea across of what you want your site to look like, however, your designer may not have Power point, or even a viewer for such files, so they may not be able to open them. If it happens they do have the program or at least a viewer, realize, they cannot be copied, so are of little value to your designer, other than to get a visual idea of what you might want.

The only way your designer can use that information, is to watch the presentation over and over, and write out all the information they can view, by hand. A time consuming process to be sure.

Further, understand, the things you can do with a PP display, are often not things that can be easily done with an html web page, so do not expect your designer is going to be able to "copy" the layout you have in mind, exactly.

Program specific word files or Proprietary data formats:

Meaning files that are only able to be opened, if your designer happens to use the same word program you do, as with  the example above. Many MS-Word files for example, SXW ( Open Office ) files, or  WPS ( Microsoft works) files: It's not assured that they will have the same programing in order to access it. A better option, is to sent plain text files, ordinary word pad files, RTF ( rich text format ) files, or standard document types, which can be handled by most word processors. Or put plain text into the email itself, failing all other options, as they can then highlight and copy the text into a word pad, or other document file, that is readable by programing they do have.

Putting images into word documents:

As with the power point displays, they are not copyable for the images, they are embedded into the page. Also, do note again, you can do things with placement in a word document, that often do not translate well into typical html webpage formats. This is fine for giving your designer a general idea of what you want it to look like, but the images within the word document, are not useable, and will have to be sent separately.

Odd image formats:

Many email programs change the format of an image into something else, and often make them unusable. AOL (tm) email, is especially bad at changing formats.

Embedding the images inside the email  can create problems as well, as now your designer has to try and save them out of the email page, one at a time, and as noted, they are often not in the right format, and have been typically renamed into some very difficult number and letter strings as the file names, by the email program itself.

Which means, they not only have to save them one by one, they have to re-name them as they go, and then try and convert the formats into ones they can use, if they can convert them at all. Some image formats are so proprietary to their respective programs, they cannot be converted.

The best option ? Send images in a common format, such as .jpg or .gif files, named exactly what you wanted them named, as a zipped attachment to your emails, this way your email program cannot change the format, or names. ( They will also mail faster zipped up, rather than just attached to the email ) Use Win Zip (tm) by preference for the zipping program, or one that is windows based, as most designers use a windows format for their operating systems, if you send the zip file, via a Macintosh system for example, using a zipping format such as, Stuffit, or RAR files, they might not be able to open them.

Database files:

As with the others, fine for information, such as a general overview of your inventory and pricing, but it's nearly useless for taking data from for your web pages, other than via a very laborious process. Each cell has to be copied line by line, or printed out and re written by hand, which is a time consuming, and very error prone process, for which your designer will likely charge you many hours of work time. A better way is again, a plain text format such as word pad, in a simple line by line layout for the information.

Flash files:

As with the power point displays, good for giving a general idea, but there is nothing within a flash file, your designer can copy and use. Other than a by hand process.

PDF files:

This is yet another, that is a fine means of getting the idea across, but it's a format that is meant to be printed, not copied to a webpage and must, most often, be read and then written out again by the designer.

Images with text:

Yet another tactic that is commonly seen, is images sent of brochures and the like. This is good for giving your designer an idea of things you like for colors etc. But, it's nearly useless for the data that is on the image to be used for prices or text copy, unless your designer reads the textual information off the image of your flyer, and types it all up, by hand. Needless to say this is yet another, that will do bad things to your wallet for the time it takes them to do this.

Poor text copy:

By this I mean, text that is in the right format, and copyable, but is badly written, uses poor grammar, is poorly spelled, etc. Unless it's part of your agreement, that your designer, is also going to be your copy editor, this can be a disaster. As they may, and rightfully so, put it up just the way you gave it to them.

Most will not do that, to be fair, most will at least spell check it, and do minor edits to it for punctuation, but if the text itself is poorly written over all, do not look to your designer to change this.

Most hesitate to even try to do this, as this is your text copy ... how you want to say things, and most designers will not take it upon themselves to change that, as that might be exactly how you want to say a thing, for good reason, so other than changes for blatant errors, they will typically not change it at all.

They might send it back to you, with some suggestions to add some keywords, or question your intentions, but that's about it, as far as their responsibility goes, unless there is a special agreement that they will do the copy editing. This agreement should be worked out with your designer, in advance.

So read and re read your text, before you send it to your site designer, as it's often a case of WYSIWYG ( What you see, is what you get. )



The long and short of it is, if your designer cannot highlight and copy the text you send, without having to do it in long hand first, re-type it, or make major edits to it the processing of the text data will take a lot more time, be more prone to error, and the cost  to you overall, to handle the data in such a labor intensive fashion, will rise exponentially.

Further, if they cannot right click and save an image you send to file, without having to rename it or covert it, it's in a poor format, and will  take that much longer to process, re-name and covert. So make it easy on them, and yourself, by sending them the data they need, in simple, easy to copy and save, formats. It will save you both much time and effort, your designer will thank you ... and so will your wallet.

More soon
Esta


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