By Chuck Sink
There is web design and there is graphic design. These are two completely different disciplines. Avoid melding the two.
There several different definitions of the word, design. Let’s consider a few of them:
- to prepare the preliminary sketch or the plans for (a work to be executed), especially to plan the form and structure of,
- to plan and fashion artistically or skillfully,
- to intend for a definite purpose,
- to form or conceive in the mind; contrive; plan.
Many small business owners (and sometimes enterprise-class business executives) end up with websites they accept and later come to hate after seeing well designed websites in their industry. What often happens is the person in charge of designing a new website knows a “web designer” or graphic designer who does websites. It might be a friend or family member, or a referral from a friend. They place their trust and confidence in the person to do a good job because they make the mistake of thinking: “We just need a decent web presence and our other marketing or word of mouth will take care of business.
Website user experience – UX – is a science for which major universities offer PhD degrees. It is a field of study that is helping to shape not only the way people use websites, but how business is accomplished.
I don’t know about you, but my business and many others run on the internet. When you and I have a good experience, whether its on a website, in the form of an email or a social share engagement, we’re delighted and we remember it. If, for example, you need an online management tool or client portal to integrate with your business, you crave simplicity and ease of use. You want to go there and intuitively find what you need and just start working efficiently. Who has time for frustrating trial and error; long learning curves?
You want your website to deliver your brand experience, make clear your message and call the visitors to do business with you, right? Your website has a purpose and it must be true to its purpose. This requires strategic planning. It often requires guidance from a senior marketing professional to get it right.
There are lots of artistic “designers” who can make the website look nice and that should be a given, whoever designs your site. The differentiating factor of great web designs is knowing exactly who the target visitors (audiences) are and planning for their user experiences. It requires knowledge of such factors as user cogitation, navigation paths, interactive features, backend programming and, yes, branding.
As an executive or manager, you must bring your specific business expertise to the design table. After that you should expect the work to flow smoothly and efficiently according to your strategic direction, having had the best consultation right up front. Incidentally, I love helping to build great websites!