Five Hundred Pages In

Five hundred pages into a content audit, I had a laundry list of things we could to to make the redesign work. My client – a mid-Atlantic university – was angling for a new CMS and a new redesign, and I had spelled out some standard content updates. But I was still searching for that one punch. That one out-of-this-world idea. That one thing that would make the process seem legitimate.

This post originally appeared November 5th, 2015, as part of The Pastry Box Project.

What I didn’t know was that the out-of-this-world idea was already on the page. Every meeting brought up the same pain points – events were created in multiple locations to serve different audiences, and news items needed to be copy and pasted across each department. I had dove deep looking for complex changes to their governance model and personalization opportunities, and here I was finding out that neither one was even necessary.

They just needed a calendar that worked.

The perception of what I think I know and what I actually know is the most frustrating thing I’ve encountered as a web consultant. I go into every situation convinced that I’m going to be no help – that I’m preaching to the choir, my ideas old hat. I fall into the trap of assuming that because I have the confidence to make a suggestion, that they already know that answer.

But that answer? It’s not always the answer I expect.

I forget that sometimes my value isn’t in ideas, but from being an outside source who can back up my client’s ideas.

I forget that sometimes we’re both looking for answers, and my experience in finding answers is more valuable than whether or not Iknow the answer.

And then sometimes the answer is so obvious to me that I forget how it’s not obvious at all. For a bit, I feel better. For a bit, I know I’m actually helping. For a bit, I can look past the next 500-page audit, the next list of answers, the next pang of forgetfulness.