We’ve talked about the different types of web designers, and the things that make up a website, but how exactly does the web designer build the website? What are the component parts of the process? And, more importantly, what do you need to know so you can make the right decisions?
Before we tackle the nuts and bolts of the web design process it is worth making sure we’re all on the same page.
You see, there are a few myths about websites that are worth discussing, because if you understand the reality of how websites are made, then you’ll be in a better position to understand the specific parts of the process.
So, in this post we’re going to address the top three myths that I encounter every day from clients and friends alike, starting with a big one.
Myth #1: Web Design is a Product or Service
Reality: Web Design is a Collaboration
I often speak with potential clients who approach their web design project the same way someone might approach getting an oil change on their car:
- Drop off the car
- Get the oil changed
- Pick up the car
And there are some web designers who perpetuate this in the way they run their business.
- Get website access
- Redesign the website (via magic voodoo)
- Deliver the website
But the truth is, by “commoditzing” website design, they’re doing a disservice to their clients.
Instead, think of your website as if it was a custom built home. You might not have the skills to build it yourself, but if this house is being built specifically for you, then it doesn’t make sense to have decisions about the structure or aesthetics left to someone else. You want to be the one to decide how big the bedroom, bathroom or kitchen is. You want to be the one to pick the paint and furniture and appliances.
Preferably, you would work with the home builder and interior designer to come up with the best house for your needs. Each step of the process requires collaboration.
If you need a custom home (either on or off the web) that fulfills specific purposes, then having it build to your specifications ensures the best possible home for you and your family.
The other problem with a build-it-and-forget-it method of website design is that it doesn’t take into account the reality behind the second myth of website design.
You see, building the website is only the beginning…
Myth #2: Websites are Self-Sustaining
Reality: Websites Require Constant Attention
A lot of website builders would like you to think that a website, once launched, is finished.
And given that many people view websites the same way they view a magazine or other marketing publications, it is understandable why they have this perspective.
After all, don’t all other marketing products behave this way? You can’t go back and edit a commercial once it has been sent off to the television networks, right?
But unlike a magazine, commercial or brochure, a website isn’t done once you launch. In fact, that is actually when the website begins.
Giving birth to a human being doesn’t mean they’re “done”, and in the same way giving birth to a website is just the first step of the growth and development of your online platform.
Again, you can think of the house analogy: when a house is built, is it done fulfilling it’s purpose?
Of course not.
Because that is when you start to live in it. From that point on, it is a constant effort to keep your house maintained and in good condition, while still making sure it can provide the functionality and features that you and your family need.
When speaking with a potential website designer, be sure to spend time sharing your vision for what the website will do 1, 6, 12 and 24 months down the line. Where do you want your online business to be in 3 years from now? How often do you plan to redesign the look of your website? What new additions do you plan to make to it down the line? How will you keep the website updated, stable and secure from hackers or malware?
It’s hard to know exactly how your business will grow down the line. But it’s a good idea to have a regular review of how your website is running and the best way to adjust it for future developments. Just like a house, if you expand your family, you might have to add a room or two to accommodate your new children.
Plan your website with the future in mind and it will serve your business as the years go on.
Myth #3: Websites are Cheap
Reality: Technology is Cheap. Knowledge and Experience are Expensive
I often have clients ask me, “If things like WordPress are free, and hosting is just a few dollars a month, then why is building a website so expensive?”.
The truth is, you aren’t actually paying for the technology of a website. These days the technology is all fairly common place and affordable. It is a mistake to think that buying a website means you are buying just the technology behind the website.
What you’re actually paying for is the understanding of how to use that technology to align with the goals of your organization or business. You’re paying for the many years of experience and knowledge that your website developer and designer have under their belts to build you the best possible website for your needs.
Again, if we’re talking about a house, you aren’t just paying for the wood, wiring or pipes that go into the construction of your house. You’re paying for an architect who understands how those work together, and a carpenter, electrician and plumber who know how to implement those tools in a way that won’t bring your house down around you in the middle of the night.
I’ve often come across clients who tried to do things the cheap way, only to need their websites fixed down the line. Some are so poorly set up and ready for collapse that it ends up costing them more to fix the site than it would have to have built it the right way in the beginning.
If you care about your business, then you should care about your website. It is the public face of your organization and, these days, the first place most people will hear about you. Give your company a home on the web that it deserves, and invest for results.
So, what does all this mean?
We covered three small paradigm shifts that are important to make when thinking about building your website:
- Your website designer doesn’t work for you, they work with you. You are essential to this process so don’t shirk your responsibilities.
- Launching the website is just the beginning of the work. Work with your website designer to figure out a game plan to keep you going strong 6, 12 or 24 months down the line.
- Pay for the knowledge and experience to build the right site for you. Websites aren’t a product, they’re an investment in your business. Set yours up the right way to ensure success in the future.
Whatever web designer you work with will thank you for understanding the truth behind these three myths about the web design process. To make sure your website project is enjoyable, educational and effective, be sure you keep these in mind as you move forward.
And if you have any questions or would like to know more about how Akamai Websites can help you, just contact us and we’ll get back to you right away to talk shop.
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