My clients run the full range from nerdy-tech-savvy to completely computer illiterate and they all get their ideas across to me in different ways:
The Word Document
This is probably the most common way people get their information to me. They open up Word and lay out their text in roughly the way they want including italics, bolding, headings, links and bullet lists. Often they insert photos or stock photos they want me to use. Layout instructions to me such as “put a facebook like button here” is usually placed in square brackets or italics. And sometimes they will insert images to indicate the entire layout of the website from banner to footer. I love this, it gives me lots to work from.
A variation of this is when modifying an existing site, they’ll copy the text directly off of the site, paste it into word and work from there. If the content is only going to be tweaked slightly and not completely rewritten, it’s very helpful to hightlight or modify the text color for the changed bits.
The Paper Sketches
This one often comes from less computer literate clients but equally from people who just like the feel of doodling directly on paper even when they know their way around a computer. The idea is similar to the Word document, including all of the same elements and instructions. It’s a little more time consuming for me because I have to take a paper design and recreate it digitally, but if that’s the way your brain works, it’s fine with me. I often still find myself drawing things out on paper sometimes.