Web Design – Looking Past the Pretty Graphics
Check out the portfolio sections of any web design site and it's likely you'll see a whole gallery of images showing off the company's prowess with their graphics software of choice. It seems almost inevitable that a web design company will be more interested in showing off their actual designs rather than how websites perform and this can lead to companies not really understanding what their website is for.
So what is it for? Simple, as with any business investment, your website is there for one reason only – to make money. What else could you use it for? Every single private or public business should have just one thing on their mind – the accumulation of profits and every single business decision should bear this in mind and be the main goal of all investments, even the website.
Very often you will see a website brief that says "we want a clean layout with easy to navigate menus". Really? Surely you want a site that adds more to the bottom line. Sure, if that means it's got neat menus then fine, but as a business, you should consider that even some terrible looking sites can make an awful lot of money and if a bad looking site rakes in the cash, then I'd be happy with that.
By simply approaching your design brief in this fundamentally different way, you can ensure that you get the best out of your web designers. But how can you tell the good guys from the bad? Here are a few tips.
Technology? Does it matter?
Is your designer more interested in waxing lyrical about the 'back-end software' they use? Are they proud of their achievements in handling twenty gigaflops of data? Do you care?
Choose a designer that talks business, not one that talks technology. You want someone who is going to help you make more money and he will not be able to do that if he's knee deep in technology. A designer that spends all their time talking about their technological conquests will not understand business and so will not be able to react to your needs in a way that will realistically help you.
Floating menus, fancy graphics?
Unfortunately, many designers are still more interested in how they can impress people through their use of flashy graphics. Flashy graphics do not sell things (other than arthaps), they simply show off the technical abilities of the designer again. The site should be about your customer, not about you or how great your designer is.
Oh dear. So many sites force music upon you without the ability to turn it off. This really is a problem for many and you should give people the option of not being forced to listen to your compositions. Again, it's just vanity – do not use it, it will put customers off.
When choosing your designer, look past the fancy graphics and consider whenever the sites make them easy to use and tell you what you need to know. You should not have to 'think' and work out what a website does or sells, you should be able to tell within seconds. If you can do this with other people's website in their portfolio, you can probably be sure you will be easy to use too.