bing code

December 14, 2010

10 Things Web Developers Won’t Tell You

Author: Valerie Baker

  1. You shouldn’t be too ‘creative’ with the text and design. Too many times clientele think that the right way to catch a person’s eye is to have bright contrasting colors, crazy elaborate backgrounds, and glittery flashing letters. On top of that, we’ve seen all kinds of creative wording centered around a particular niche. For example a business catering to dogs might place their “about page” under the heading “dog pound.” This is absolutely the wrong way to go about design.  Web users go to websites to get information, not a theatrical show, and much of the time they’ll be new to your brand and corporate speak. So keep it simple.
  2. We are the developers, not you (aka, Web Designers aren’t order takers). I know that one sounds harsh, but stick it out with me. It’s our job to learn about your company, your goals, and your overall theme and match that with a site that will a) fall within that theme b) be simple to use for almost everyone (including your core audience) c) be “marketing” friendly. That’s it! You’re hiring a web designer because they are a professional, and much like any professional service (lawyer, doctor, cpa) there are things that you will not know and have to default to their judgement; they have gone to school and made a career out of their skills.  It’s frustrating for a web designer to have clients with no experience with programming or design tell them what to do and how they should go about doing it.  You’re spending your time and money on hiring a professional, so let them make the decisions alongside you and figure out how they believe the best ways to accomplishing your goals are.
  3. Not every idea we hear is the next Facebook. On any given year we’ll probably listen to dozens of “pitches” about how a new website, social network, or tool is the next Facebook – and we’re just a tiny regional web developer! Again with the “you’ve hired a professional now let them do their job”.  Web designers don’t want to be rude when clients suggest an idea and completely shut it down because they are the one supplying their paycheck.  However, there comes a point when clients should recognize that their ideas are not soliciting welcome and enthusiastic responses from web designers and that may be a sign of the efficacy of their product.
  4. None of us should be blaming the past developer(s). Perhaps your website is not anywhere close to where it should be, but that doesn’t mean the blame should be placed all on the previous designer or web developer.  You are the client, it is your responsibility to hire a good company, communicate the goals you wish to meet, and work with the developers through the entire process to make sure your end result is achieved.  Additionally, there are an infinite number of reasons why the website might not be up-to-snuff (when viewed by a successive developer) none of which may be “bad.” Taking responsibility for past decisions will start you and your web team off in the right direction.
  5. Flash intros are ALWAYS A BAD IDEA. From marketing to usability studies, flash intros negatively impact your site and piss off users. Name one large company or website that has a flash intro?
  6. Ads can help pay for the site, but they can sometimes do more harm than good.  Most clients’ priority is how they can cut costs on the production of their websites to maximize their ROI, and ads are an easy way to help produce revenue and alleviate overhead costs.  When done incorrectly ads can overtake more than 50% of your website’s content and influence potential clientele to hit the back button instead of wasting time exiting ads.
  7. Subtlety can go a long way.  This can tie into ads as well as clients who believe that blasting music or a video upon entering a site is a great idea.  People use the Internet in their homes, at work, in the car, or even on airplanes, and the last thing they want to worry about is trying to find the mute button to the silly music you want playing on your site.  If a musical component is important to your site, then at least make it extremely easy for listeners to silence the music quickly.
  8. You need to build your content vertically, not horizontally. Clients sometimes don’t understand that big bulky paragraphs that force web visitors to scroll side to side to read an entire sentence can get really annoying, really quickly.  Web content should be displayed vertically with a button at the end of the page to return to the top, making it easier and faster for visitors to explore more of your site.
  9. Don’t ask visitors to sign their life away just to subscribe.  As web designers we understand that you may want to push sign ups for your email subscription or monthly newsletters, but forcing visitors to give up lots of personal information is going to steer them away from doing this.  Stick to the basics; ask for their name, zip code, and email address, and don’t make them fret by demanding an address, valid phone number, and credit card just to get some updates from your site.
  10. If it’s so simple… then you do it! The last thing a web designer wants to hear is you rattle off a long list of things you want your website to have and then say it’ll be simple and quick for them to accomplish. As I was writing this blog post, just such a request came in. I guess it comes down to ego, and truth be told, we’ve gotten used to hearing this. More likely than not when a request comes in that’s simple you, the client are communicating “I have no idea how easy or not this is, but I don’t want to pay for it or I don’t have the budget if it IS complicated.” By revealing your naivety and calling something simple you’re smashing your chances of a developer working with you on the price, or coming up with a solution that meets your needs in an acceptable time frame and budget. It’s that simple.

Valerie Baker

Valerie is the Senior Account Manager & Project Manager here at Atilus.

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