Commercial web design is about creating web solutions for client business problems; web design is not just graphic design using Internet technologies. The trouble is that most people, particularly at the low end of the so-called web design market, are either focused on graphic design or technical implementation. While, a design solution to the business problem is emphatically rejected.
I don’t know why it upsets the web design industry to hear this, but clients walk in the door for other reasons than to gift thousands of dollars to have a meaningless web presence. It’s not 1998, give the client credit. They are walking in the door to make a business investment in a marketing or sales channel. And that means they deserve to be treated as a business client – the focus should be on ROI (Return on Investment). The focus should be on making money (or equivalent value) for the client’s business.
ROI comes with some difficult accomplices – success and failure need to be measurable and measured, objectives set and steps taken to adjust strategies when goals aren’t achieved.
In other words, if clients aren’t there to gift money then they expect their investment to achieve something of that value for their business. Designing how to achieve that is the web designer’s job. And a smart web designer would think about learning more about business and marketing OR working closely with somebody who can provide that expertise.
Unfortunately, this is why a lot of web designers are only worth $5 per hour in the market. Just building stuff like a five page website with a contact form isn’t enough anymore. Even if those so called web designers think they can keep seducing naive mom and pop business owners out of the odd paycheck year-in-year-out.
It’s something that makes me a little mad about the web design industry as a whole. This idea that mom and pop businesses can afford to throw away thousands on the website that achieves nothing. Without questions about who is the customer, why would they be on the site, where would they come from, what the business needs to communicate, the objectives and goals of both parties in that equation, and how these all intersect at a solution? Mom and pop businesses can go broke pretty fast throwing away money to bad investment.
And that’s what websites I refer to as Internet Beach Towels are – wasted investment.
You would never find a larger business throwing cash out the door with the idea it won’t have ROI. And you’d find few of those so-called web designers willing to give half their pay to an SEO witch for the same reason.
So here’s my 2013 call to the web design industry. Clean up your act. At a certain point on the web design scale this may be a moot point, but somewhere down the mid-scale and lower it has stagnated into a long-con industry. One where lazy developers and technicians and graphic artists pretend to offer something they are unwilling, unable and unprepared to provide to customers.