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tim berners-leeRachel Andrews is not happy about the direction website design is going in… and neither am I!

World Wide Web. What’s the Point?

These concerns go against the principles of some strong opposition, including W.W.W.’s founder, Tim Berners Lee(right). His motivation for creating the first browser – at CERN’s labs (of Higgs Boson fame) – was 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 engineers, Tim wasn’t too bothered about how it looked or how easy it was to use (as you’ll know from reading 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. Even today, design and usability are low on many software engineer’s priority list. Human ‘interaction’ elements often get ignored until too late in the process.

DIY vs. Hiring an Expert

DIY is novel in your thirties, but by your forties you realise there’s people out there not only quicker, but far better at certain jobs around the house.

The challenges of web design is increasing. It seems like every week different sizes of screens are being launched, on desktop, tablet and phone. We can no longer neglect the value of graphic design expertise.

In addition, skilled copywriters can take raw content and hugely increase how many times these articles are read and shared. Similarly, web designers can make 100s of decisions about colour theory, type size and how your content is presented for the same goal.

Keeping Sites 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. Then pages are added which bare no relation to care put in at launch date.

Masters of None

How did we get here?

Don’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault. Historically technology has encouraged us to think we can and should do every job…

  • E-mail, direct dial and mobile phones: bosses spend more of their time doing secretarial and reception duties. High opportunity and productivity costs.
  • Desktop publishing: PAs produce graphic & even web design. If you’re lucky they might have a bit of knowledge of design and usability research. Then maybe your corporate material won’t look like you set up yesterday.

Meanwhile under-employed designers are out delivering pizzas to make ends meet. I dread to think what pizza delivery people are now doing, but I hope they get regular medical checks.

This has to Stop!

Rachel Andrews is not happyRachel Andrews(pictured right) important speech last year highlighted how all CMS solutions are solving the wrong problem.

She asked why we’re giving users ‘Word’ like WYSIWYG interfaces, encouraging clients to make decisions on graphic design, for business websites.

If you’re selling home-made jam to your friends, design your own label. Otherwise… not OK!

Play to your strengths. I bring in branding experts and copy writers. I encourage clients to use trusted photographers.

The Client’s Role

When creating and updating a website, business owners should focus on what they know best: the website’s business goals and content.

If you are using it to get web design experience, perhaps develop those skills on a hobby site, away from the business!