This may upset a few
It goes against the spirit of the World Wide Web. Oh, and the aims of it’s founder (pictured here).
Tim Berners Lee’s motivation for creating the first browser – at CERN’s labs (of Higgs Boson fame) – was he wanted to publish papers. Scientific papers rarely make Waterstone’s best seller’s lists. So creating a browser where scientists could self-publish was a very big deal.
RTFM. ‘Read The Manual’
As with most ‘technicians’, Tim wasn’t too bothered about how it looked or how easy it was to use (as you’ll know if you’ve read any technical manual).
That doesn’t mean TBL was unintelligent! It means design and usability weren’t on his radar. Clive Sinclair’s lack of business sense was no reflection on his genius as an engineer. This ability to ignore the human ‘interaction’ elements of engineering continues to this day, with design and usability skills being low on many software engineer’s priorities.
So hire an expert
As the web moves to smaller devices, we can no longer neglect the value of experts in these related fields. It’s great to write your own blog posts. However, skilled copywriters will increase how many times these articles are read and shared.
How’s your knowledge on colour theory? Read the latest usability research on NUIs? How would you fix a site that’s got hacked? Should you be an expert in all this just to have a website?
Professional businesses need sites built and maintained by experts. Once live, too many web designers hand over controls and say ‘call me if you need me’ as if technology will resolve everything. It won’t!
Masters of None
It’s not your fault. Technology’s made everyone think they’re suitable for every job…
- The advent of e-mail, direct dial and mobile phones has meant bosses are doing their PA’s and receptionist’s work. We ignore the fact it’s not a cost-effective or productive use of their time.
- Desktop publishing has meant PAs are busy making graphic & even web design. Who cares that they have no knowledge of usability research, design skills or training.
- Meanwhile under-employed designers are out delivering pizzas. I dread to think what pizza delivery people are doing, but I hope they get regular medical checks.
I am not Jack
This goes to the core of what I do. For copy writing, I go to my copywriter. For photography I encourage my clients to use one of my trusted photographers.
Masters of None are widespread. Rachel Andrew gave an important speech last year, highlighting how all CMS solutions are solving the wrong problem.
Why are we giving users a ‘Word’ like WYSIWYG interface and encouraging clients to make decisions on layout and typography on a business website?
If you’re selling home-made jam to your friends, design your own label. Otherwise… not OK!
The client’s role
When it comes to the design of your new website, business owners should focus purely on what they know best: the website’s business goals and content required.
If you are using it as a way of getting web design experience, may I suggest you develop those skills on a hobby site, away from the business.