For the past few months I’ve been developing three different web-based tools. All three are things that I started as tools for me, and it was after talking to other folks that I learned they might ultimately be useful for them, too. When my user base shifted from just me to a whole lot of
support rapid updating of content, changes in Search Engine Marketing, and syndication of content. One of the core indicators of a well-architected CMS, in fact, is the separation of Design, Content, and Information Architecture. Put another way, the layout of a page is independent of the content on it, which is independent of the organization of pages. While there is much focus on getting the CMS to support the content strategies of now and the future, next to none goes into supporting the Brand strategies of the future.
After a project was laid on me in the eleventh hour which had to be delivered in the twelfth, I found myself madly trying to educate myself on a foreign subject. The project and the subject doesn’t really matter. What mattered to me was collecting enough data for me to deliver it on time. Google performed beautifully; but a lot of the sites failed. Why? Pop-ups.
Of course, they aren’t the pop-ups of years past, they’re “modal windows” or “lightboxes”. You’ve all seen them. You visit a page, the background fades to grey, and a simple little window automagically springs into existence. Sometimes they asked me to register. Sometimes it was a sales pitch. The reason didn’t matter. I was there to get content. And now you’ve covered it up and forced me to click on something to get to it.
One of the biggest problems that I’ve found working in the web industry is that outsiders don’t really get what a corporate website is all about. It’s not just about HTML, a really good design, or content. I’m finding that too many young businesses, or immature older ones, think one web designer is all it takes to put together a website. So I’m going to attempt to describe in under 1,000 words what should go into a website. The key word here is should.
Not too long ago I had a conversation with a graphic designer who was tasked with designing a website. Web Design was out of her area of immediate expertise, and she asked me if I had anything that I could share with her. After I sent her my email, I realized that I’ve said this before — and I’ll probably say it again. So, in case my mother, or anyone else, asks my thoughts on how to design a website, here are seven rules that I’ll mouth off.
Designers and clients come from two different worlds. Two very different worlds; they speak different languages, have different cultures, and can easily get into a fight with each other. Usually, the only thing they’ll have in common is that they both own businesses. With completely different languages, experiences and areas of expertise, it’s hard to make sure you can both walk away from a project completely happy. So let’s talk about four questions you can ask each other to make sure that you get the job done well.
Not every web project needs a web designer or developer. Sometimes all you need a consultant. Whether it’s budget limitations or the fact that you already have the resources, sometimes you’re better served by a designer’s opinion than his work. If you let a web designer act as a consultant, it can actually be great for both parties. He gets the freedom of telling you exactly what he thinks, and you get the choice of listening or doing it your own way.