Commissioning Web Sites

This is a longer version of the Belfast Telegraph Web Watch article for this week

It astonishes me how cavalier some businesses and organisations are with regard to their Web Sites.  This is their home on the Web.  At the very least, it is their business card on the Web. A more advanced site can be a communications hub for staff, stakeholders, customers, and as importantly potential new customers.  At the very least it should reflect the professionalism and the ethos of the business.  It should look good, have the right functionality and be updated accurately without typos and grammar glitches. 

Commissioning a Web Site can be baffling for someone who has little experience in the area.  Marty Neill, Managing Director of Belfast interactive design company, No More Art warns “Often businesses can be surprised at the costs involved in getting a solid presence on the Web and this sometimes leads to them cutting corners or hiring people with limited experience. This is a dangerous gamble as a Web Site is now generally the first point of contact people have with a business and first impressions last. There should be a plan.  What is the website for? To increase sales, perhaps.  Is it to gather details for marketing? Too often this part of the plan is absent but it should guide the whole process.”

 It’s the designer’s job to understand you, your needs and how those needs can be best addressed. If they don’t, then walk away.

Andy McMillan is freelance web designer told me “The most enjoyable projects, I find, are always with clients who are genuinely interested in the process behind design. If you’re hiring a designer to complete a piece of work and not attempting to foster a relationship with that person, you’re doing it wrong. Design is an on-going process and when you’re looking for a designer, you should be trying to find a person who is genuinely interested in what you’re trying to achieve as well as you becoming as genuinely interested in how they’re trying to achieve it for you.” 

“I think that designers need to understand the business they’re working for and the aims that they have as best they can before beginning work on any design.” said Marty Neill. “Sometimes clients themselves are unsure as to why they want a website and the designer’s role should be to help the client make good decisions about functionality and to implement it well. Sometimes impressive visuals are used to conceal the fact that the designer doesn’t understand their role well enough and that they are in fact designing for themselves and not the client”

And Andy McMillan says the client should get really involved with the process. “Ask questions, be curious. Unsuccessful work always goes hand in hand with clients who have been disinterested in the process and end up with work they’re not happy with because they didn’t come along for the ride.”

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