Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The devil's in the detail

I've had one project ongoing alongside all the others through the summer - and it's driving me to distraction.

Essentially, I'm writing and editing copy for a new web application that takes marketers through a tool kit to produce their annual marketing plans. The benefits are obvious: consistency, efficiency and no need to reinvent the wheel. The devil, of course, is in the detail.

I've been briefed twice on the project - and very differently. On the one hand, a number of people on the client side have been providing input - all slightly different in style and form and differing widely in tone. There's a contact on the client side who's extremely nice - but quite junior and more a conduit for information than an authority. Yet she put me through the hoops in the first place to win the work, and it's through her that my bills get paid.

I've also been briefed by the design company - a business I've worked with well for years. They have a particular vision for this site that's based on it looking good and being functionally effective. Unfortunately, the client doesn't seem to have quite the same vision.

I've been drafting copy, sending it to the client who, unbeknown to me, have then sent it straight on to the design agency without any quality checks or editing or any 'add value' from the client side. I've had no feedback on whether what I was doing was right or wrong, so have just ploughed on, clocking up about 70-80 hours' work.

Deadlines have been regularly missed by the client. On several occasions I've blocked out time to get on with the work only to sit around twiddling my thumbs. So, I've become slightly jaundiced about the project - more so when I've had calls from the designers bemoaning the fact that the client hasn't followed the design and has got me to write sections that appear nowhere in the functional spec - a spec no-one has kept me up to date on!

So, I'm a bit cheesed off stuck in the middle. I just want to get the project out of the way - but sod's law sees it growing like topsy and coming back time and again, gobbling up more of my words. At the moment I'm stuck writing flash scripts for how to use the site and I'm struggling. Not enough detail for the client, way too much copy for the designers. We will reach compromise and the site will work - I just wish there'd been a clear brief throughout. I hate producing work that I'm not satisfied with - but that's how I feel about this project - it has just been too messy from the start, and I don't think I'm doing a very good job.

But, I've got to produce a good end result, so it's back to the scripts and keep bashing away. In the end, I'm only as good as my last job, so I can't afford to piss off the client.

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