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.
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 I know 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.