One of my pet hates is the idea that web design is quick, easy and can be done by anyone. There’s not many industries where everybody feels entitled to have a go. You wouldn’t try brain surgery or translating foreign languages without any know-how or experience but somehow or other some people feel that they can grab a computer and make their own website.
Most give up, when it sinks in that it’s not as quick or as easy as it looks and that the drag and drop software they’ve got just isn’t flexible enough to give them the result that they want, which is usually a website that looks like dog s**t and doesn’t work for anyone, let alone the potential customers it’s about to cost you.
A bad website is damaging to say the least, it’s damaging to your brand identity, your business and your customer’s expectations. It might even be doing a really bad job of selling for you.
Nobody wants a website.
What they really want is more business.
A good website will make it easy for your customers to find you and buy from you. It won’t put up any barriers such as splash screens, annoying popups and other things that interrupt the buying/decision making process. A good website will be made with consideration for human perception, in other words how the eye works, how it tends to move across the screen so that relevant things are noticed by the person browsing your site. A good website will always tie in and be consistent with your marketing activity matching existing letterheads, invoices, business cards and other advertising, to reassure clients that they’ve come to the right place.
The path of the eye is just as important as the path of the search engine. Search engine optimisation (SEO) when done properly can be as dark an art as black magic, but it gets results and it takes a lot of time and experience to learn how to do these things.
Then there’s familiarity with popular content management systems, whether it’s WordPress, Joomla, ModX or a whole host of installable scripts that all have their own particular foibles. Every WordPress developer knows about the white screen of death for example and how to fix it. This is why we spend up to 80% of our time testing the design work (depending on the project). This means that in a standard 40 hour week 32 hours can easily be spent running code and making sure that it doesn’t break anything.
Then there’s the web hosting, how do you fix that when it goes wrong, Web Servers tend to be really reliable but they do fail or get the odd misconfiguration. At CPTsolutions.biz we pay our web hosting providers to do this for us and maintain the web servers but even then there will be some issues that they just can’t fix or won’t fix. That’s when we dive in. They are after-all the line of last resort.
So why am I writing this?
Basically it’s because a few times over the years when I’ve been selling someone a website they occasionally say something along the lines of ‘it’s ok my son is good with computers, he can build a site for me.’
I usually reply ‘Oh great is your son a web designer or developer can he write code.’
The worst reply I’ve ever had on this is ‘no, but he’s had lessons in school of how to do it.’
Having read the above you can see why I find this incredibly insulting that a sixteen year old who has had one lesson from an unskilled and lazy teacher who has used some ‘drag ‘n drop’ software to make a single webpage is considered to be on par with me, a time served, web developer and marketing expert who has worked with IT on and off since 1985.
To be fair, they don’t know me on an initial meeting and they seem to think that it’s the computer that’s doing all of the work and I can understand that given how IT/Computing is portrayed in the media with super fast hackers feeling screens full of code in mere seconds when they are breaking in to a high tech building under gunfire, but it isn’t true.
Some ‘web designers’ are just people with little knowledge and web design software that does all of the work, with the same restrictions and inability to fix things as the 17 year old son of a company director who has at least had a lesson in web design.
Web development is time consuming and costly, which is why we can’t afford to be too cheap, but offer easy payment options instead to make everything affordable and this is an industry wide problem that all of my colleagues in other companies report from time to time. The only other industry that suffers from something similar to this is photography (as far as I know), where people get a nice camera and think that they have the right to charge people money to do a bad job of their wedding or portrait or any other event.
In both industries when the ‘have a go heroes’ set up, charge money and do a bad job, a good job has been taken out of the market place for both photographers and web designers that’s why this annoys us a bit a CPTsolutions.biz almost as much as querying our hosting fees. We take the view that a job is only good when the customer is happy and gets a pleasing result.