Website Design Series
Week 1: Why It’s Important
I have been building websites for over 17 years. In that time period there have been incredible changes to web technologies and practices. However, I still see, in new clients, a lot of the same confusion around the website design process. It is for this reason that I thought it could be helpful to provide a series of posts about the website design process. But rather then tackling all aspects, I wanted to focus on a very few and distinct ideas, that I believe are key in understanding and creating the goals for your website.
Way back in 2002 – When dinosaurs roamed
I began building websites for clients in the early part of 2002. I have built hundreds of websites in the seventeen years since. Much has changed about the website design service in the last decade. There are more options then ever before. In some ways this is for the better, however the vast sea of options can be overwhelming. Often I am speaking to a potential client, and the first thing they tell me is that they “know nothing about website design and it is way over their head”. It’s clear that they have given up on trying to understand it and just want to turn it over to someone who does. While I can understand their hesitation to learn the in’s and out’s of website design, the process of building their site cannot be done without their involvement. Let’s look at why this is the case.
When I started building sites, 90% of the sites I built were custom sites for local mom and pop businesses. They were very basic 5-8 page websites for the local landscaper, chiropractor, financial planner and so on. Custom sites were sites built entirely from scratch. I would start with a blank canvas and begin designing the “look and feel” of the website in Photoshop. Once the early design were done and approved by the client, I would begin building the website by writing HTML code into a blank file. The process would continue from there until the entire site was custom coded and ready for launch. This process could take 6-8 weeks, on average, and typically required A LOT of communication with the client.
Jump forward to today and I recently launched an e-commerce store with over 3000+ products and complex tiered pricing structures in the same 6 week time frame. A basic 5 page informational website built today on a CMS platform (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc.), with a pre-designed template, can be built in just a couple of days. A LOT HAS CHANGED. This is the key to why it is important that the client has, at the very least, a basic understanding of website design. There are countless options and pathways that can get you to the point of launching your website, but what is driving the decisions that are made along the way.
To Make Money – Duh!
Yes, having a website to help you grow your business is certainly a goal. However, I think it is just that… a goal. A goal however is the effect not the cause. It’s the end and not the means.
If your goal for the website is to build your business, you must also care about how that happens. Not caring about how that happens, would be the equivalent of saying “my goal is to get to the park this morning, but I don’t care what kind of car I drive to get there”. Sure it could be 2019 Lexus LS or a 1971 Ford Pinto, “it really doesn’t matter how I get there”. For most people…it matters and it should for your business.
In Week 2: Your website story