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7 secrets web designers don't want you to know!

Here’s some of the things a web creative may not tell you about working with them. And before they get indignant about questioning their good reputations, let me tell you that each of these depictions are based on real-life situations (in other words, I’m just the messenger).

Here are 7 things web designers don't want you to know as you build or redevelop your website.

1. That websites aren’t just about ‘the look’

Websites can be very deceptive. While they can look a million dollars, the appearance of the website is only a small part of the formula for a successful online presence.

Sure, it looks great, but can search engines find it? Is it easy to navigate? Is it well written? Does it provide clear calls to action? Does it provide seamless progression to the sale (or at least inquiry)? Does it allow clients to easily make their own changes? Does its underlying technology allow you to easily and affordably add functionality as your requirements grow? Does it “actually work”?

I’ve seen hundreds of websites that look fantastic, only to delve further and find many of these issues are not considered. At the end of the day they can mean significant lost business.

2. That a good CMS (content management system) will significantly reduce their ongoing fees

There’s no doubt that providing tools for clients to manage their own content can be fraught with danger. I’ve spent considerable time and effort applying best practice layout to a client website only to return a few weeks later to find it’s been butchered by a well-meaning member of the client’s staff.

However, many changes to a website are minor in nature that a client can quite happily make themselves without affecting the visual appeal of the site.

While the notion of a client altering their works of art would send a shiver up the spine of many creatives, in most cases a good balance can be found between keeping the site dynamic and keeping it looking good – saving the client a small fortune in paying the designer to achieve the same result.

3. That they “actually” don’t know anything about designing for the web

I’m of the belief that all creative work should be managed via a central person – usually the person who has designed your corporate ID or brochure. This approach means that your all-important branding is carried through the various media with consistency and professionalism.

But sometimes that person has no experience in designing for the web. The result is that you may be paying for the designer’s expensive learning curve or hit a significant stumbling block when you want to add functionality that is beyond their expertise.

This can easily be resolved by having that designer work with your web team, giving you the best of both worlds.

4. That your new website will be developed in search-engine-unfriendly Flash

One of our team was recently contacted by a client who had just paid for a brand spanking new website, but wasn’t being listed on Google’s search engine results pages.

A quick perusal of her website quickly identified the problem. Not only was the site built entirely in Flash technology (which means that Google et al couldn’t read its all-important html code) but that she had no CMS to allow her to make changes that would address that very issue.

It was with some anger that the client realised that she had just spent several thousand dollars on a good-looking lemon.

5. That web users hate ‘splash’ pages

Don’t be fooled. Funky splash pages (the clever animated pages that slowly unravel before you actually get to the page you are after) are a waste of user’s time and are only there to line the designer’s pockets – even with a “skip intro” button.

6. That they’re more interested in winning awards than your business growth

Sadly, this is more pervasive than you might imagine. Industry awards inflate egos and look good on resumes. They might even earn some kudos with proud clients.

While the opinions of creative industry judges might be interesting, they distract from the good website’s true purpose – to grow your business.

Don’t get me wrong, Awards can be a good measure of a professional’s creativity, but I’d much rather boast that we’d increased a client’s sales inquiries by a factor of 100 (which we did recently J) than get a pat on the back from some creative guru.

One minute you’re a designer’s best mate, the next you’re being avoided. Some designers have no idea how to manage excessive workloads and might even be unwilling to get help to manage “their babies”. In the meantime, your promotion campaign is being held up because you have no website to promote (that is, you’re losing money).

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