Join Morten Rand-Hendriksen for an in-depth discussion in this video Asking what the web can do for you, part of Mapping the Modern Web Design Process.
- Like a doctor or a lawyer, you are hired or brought in on a web design project because of your expertise. And like doctors and lawyers, your knowledge in your field, in this case, web design, is or at least should be, substantially greater than that of your client. An interesting but often overlooked role for a web designer is as a guide to the unknown wilderness that is the web. When a client comes in with a new project, it's often with a limited scope, and a limited understanding of what the web has to offer, and what it can do for them.
It is your job to educate them on what is possible, and present new possibilities and opportunities they haven't considered. Even today, people often think of a website as a one-way communication tool, much like a brochure or portfolio. And while it's true that you can build a brochure or portfolio site on the web, these sites do not take advantage of what makes the web unique. Two-way or three-way or infinite way communication.
The web is a communication platform, and by leveraging this aspect, you can create more immersive and informational experiences both for the visitor and the site owner. Building a website for a medical clinic? Why not provide new patients with fillable forms for download so they can fill them out on their computers at home and print them out before their first visit? Building a website for a law firm? Why not provide a Q&A section on the site where clients and interested parties can ask questions and receive basic legal advice? Or an FAQ explaining common legal jargon? Or an online intake form to help the client and the lawyer prepare for the first meeting.
Beyond simply a communication platform, the web can also simplify processes and open new business opportunities. A simple example is custom T-shirt stores. Thanks to basic web technologies, a T-shirt vendor can now offer up a virtually unlimited selection of custom T-shirts that are printed to order. Without the web, this process would involve phone or in-person meetings, design drafts, and volumes of paperwork. Online, it's all simplified.
The customer enters a website with a T-shirt design application, and selects the shirt type, size, color and print configuration for her liking. With the selection complete, she can submit an order and payment and a T-shirt vendor has clear instructions on what to do and payment in hand. Another example is the online video streaming service, Netflix. By leveraging web technologies, they took a business built on packaging and shipping DVD's by mail, and turned it into a global media powerhouse that has revolutionized how TV shows and movies are made and consumed.
The web is a platform of virtually unending potential, and finding how to leverage this potential for your client can turn a conversation about what photo of the board of directors should be used on the "About" page to one about adding a membership section, e-Commerce platform, online chat, or data streaming service. It's these types of things that can take their business to new heights, and open new business opportunities with a relatively small investment. And it's your job, as the web designer, to open these opportunities to them.
- Understanding what your users care about
- Creating user personas
- Creating content priority hierarchies
- Testing wireframes and interaction patterns
- Establishing a three-track build process
- Incorporating accessibility principles
- Using content blocks
- Testing and revising your web design
- Optimizing for social media and SEO
- Launching your web design
- Getting feedback from users