Thursday, 04 December 2014 00:00

I Am Not a Web Designer

With 20+ years experience in web design I thought it might be useful to outline a few defining points or areas of specialism that may be of interest for prospective clients as it's a bit of a minefield out there and I personally feel that it's better to be armed with the right questions prior to approaching a web designer.

What is a web designer?

A web designer, in broad strokes, is someone who will take your website project and create a website. Typically they'll use a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor such as Dreamweaver or (dare I say it) FrontPage and design your website for you.

However, there's a plethora of CMS (content management systems) out there now that can pretty much give you a template for your website with no coding required. One example of this is WordPress and there are a great many others that have thousands upon thousands of templates freely available.

The designer should either create or take a brief from you and create your site. Now that all sounds pretty straight forward but there are a great deal of other things you might like to consider and I'll go through these in a moment.

For the record, I'm not a web designer (although I do use the phrase as people have a concept of what one does) as the majority of my projects are not short term. I develop relationships with my clients, work with them and help them realise their ideas and (as the strap line says) turn them into reality.

Web Application Development

By definition a web application is an application that resides on the web. That's about as simple an explanation as I can come up with so here's an idea of the process I might follow when approaching a new project:

  • Does the client simply need a brochure style website?
    • Yes: Use a CMS and design it
    • No: Work with the client and develop a project scope

The client usually has an idea of what they want to achieve and after a brief conversation I can usually open other doors for them by asking questions such as "Where is your target audience? or "Have you considered online sales?" or perhaps "Have you considered using social media?"

From this initial conversation I will typically draft the following:

  • Project brief
  • Keyword analysis
  • Keyword distribution
  • Functional specification
  • Wireframe design

Contained within these documents are a whole host of other details such as client/contractor responsibilities, keyword discovery, market analisys and social platforms recommended. You'll notice though that at no point have I mentioned "competition" and that's for one simple reason: There is none. There may be others doing what you do, there may well be others doing what you do and doing it better (in your opinion) but there will always be something you do that they do not or cannot do and for that reason I seperate you from others in your market and place you apart. ergo: making you the "Go To" provider for your target audience.

Some questions you might like to ask

Taken from GoDaddy's recent post on their Blog about How to interrogate your website developer I found the questions refreshing and would certainly welcome them from any new prospect I dealt with. Please take time to read that article but for those short on time here's a summary:

All very salient and probing questions I think you'll agree and well worth asking your next web developer I'm certain.

Areas of specialism

I focus mainly on the delivery of the project through any means available. These includes, but are not limited to:

Keyword Analysis

Taking your keywords and creating an analysis report that includes almost all the keywords and phrases pertaining to your business and placing these in a format that is easily understandable and can be digested to create the keyword distribution report.

Keyword distribution

Where and how these keywords will be used, we may even develop satellite sites for key products or services you provide.

The project scope

A detailed breakdown of what will be provided and who is responsible.

User Experience Testing (UX)

This can take up a significant amount of the development because before you put your design in front of users it may not be obvious where the kinks are, what needs to be tweaked and how it can be improved. A good example is to place someone in front of the site who has never seen it, ask them to perform simple tasks such as "place an order" or "lookup the contacts page" and just watch and learn from how they do this. You also have to bear in mind the UI or (User Interface) as different people use input devices in very different ways.

Content loading

In reality, although there may be pages upon pages of content or products to load this is really a small part of the process but can be extremely time consuming if not implemented correctly.

Social

We look at which social platforms to use, which are appripriate and how we might best manage these.

Web Project Development

This is what I do best. I'll take your concept from the napkin and launch it worldwide. Examples include Plus My Reach, Zounds and great many others that all started the same way: "Hey, I wonder if you could?" and we worked together to build an entire online system based around what the client wanted.

Information is free, I truly believe that and for this reason I'm more than happy to talk through your concept with you, discuss your ideas and perhaps even work with you so why not get in touch and we'll see what we can do together...?

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Last modified on Sunday, 29 March 2015 22:41

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