Working in the design industry for over 15 years, I have seen first hand how the role of the humble web designer has dramatically changed.
With almost every facet of our lives integrated online, the relationship between businesses and their website designer has never been more vital.
The evolution of the web designer
Firstly let's compare previous website expectations (Say circa 2007)
In both scenarios our clients generally came to us wanting an amazing website. After we designed, built and launched them, the websites were generally not updated until 6-12 months later when they called us back again.
The whole website process was a very cyclical one in which both parties operated neatly on their side of the fence so to speak. It was very much based on the traditional creative process involved in print design.
The old website process simply was:
- Client Brief
- Website Design and Build
- Website Launch
- Website Invoice.... and then simply repeat.
Web designers were employed on a project by project basis, and there was no genuine desire for an ongoing role for a web partner.
From experience this lead to 5 key issues:
- Shorter website life - Websites would no sooner be updated and then would be out of date again.
- Time Wasting - For both client and designer, there was much inefficiency in time management.
- Lack of control - Clients had very little actual control of their websites.
- Costly on goings - Every time a client wanted even the smallest changes, a new quote would need to be raised.
- Poor ROI - You simply combine all of these together and you can clearly see this system was not a solid return on investment.
It's not hard to see why the whole website process needed to change with the times.
Here are what I see as today's customer website expectations:
- Dynamic presence - Websites have been around for a very long time now, so anything short of a modern, clean and professional looking website simply won't cut it any more.
- Multi-device friendly - Put simply, people are browsing online more than ever on their devices, so every website must be 100% mobile responsive to keep up with your customers.
- Up to date news & details - People expect everything on your website to be totally up to date. A website that is displaying outdated information will quickly be ignored by potential customers.
- Social Media Integration - Ok, this is really stating the obvious, but yes every business needs to make sure they are catering accordingly for their customers Social Media habits.
- Shopping / Booking online - Where applicable customers expect the ability to shop and book online however they please.
- Interactivity - People expect the convenience and interactivity of Maps, Videos and Blogs.
To meet all of these expectations, websites nowadays need to be far more sophisticated and possess an effective back end CMS. To create a highly successful website, website designers need to be part of the journey, not just at the launch of the website.
This has lead to a whole new website process which we follow at Pixel Fish.
Website creation: (Pre Launch)
- Website Brief & Planning
- Website Design, Revisions and Build
- Website Approval & Launch
- Website Invoice
Website Maintenance: (Post Launch)
- Website Training - Website training to educate clients how to properly and easily use their website.
- Website Support - Phone and email support for clients as they use their website.
- Website Hosting & Backups - Websites need to sit on reliable website hosting and be backed up regularly.
- Website Updates - Monthly updates of website software such as plugins to keep everything running smoothly.
The main difference that I have seen is that businesses are understanding the importance of not only selecting a web designer that can deliver them a great website, but more importantly, a reliable web partner that can help them move forward with their website. One that can support them and help when an issue arises.
This has all lead to 5 key improvements:
- Longer Web life
- Greater client control of website
- No need to pay designer every change
- Constantly up to date and engaging
- Terrific ROI!
With the advent on CMS systems like WordPress, businesses can nowadays keep a very up to date digital presence themselves. This is very beneficial to businesses, yet it also means that having a reliable website partner that you can turn to is critical.
Today, our clients rely on us on a daily basis. They rely on having a solid website partner that can assist them with their website and ensure they have the very best online presence 24/7.
Sure, it has meant added responsibility has now been placed squarely on the shoulders of web designers. But I really believe the relationship between designer and client has grown so much stronger because of this. There it is.. The evolution of the web designer.