Yes. Beware the web designer! There’s so much talk these days about web designers, creative directors, other visual design professionals, and advertising and interactive agencies and why you should exercise caution when working with them. There is some validity to the concerns posed.
You need the RIGHT “Interactive Art Director” (Web Designer)
Website design began with very basic brochureware-style websites. As the importance of websites grew so did the importance of understanding visitor behavior. Leave a great Art Director or designer to their own devices and they will no doubt design an aesthetically stunning visual website design. This is fine and dandy but they need to see bigger picture. Follow a strategy. What’s the Goal? Everything should be identified prior to starting a design or concept. Creative Brief’s (CB’s) define the idea, concept, brand unity and visual aesthetic that will accomplish those goals. Without a Creative Brief for the website design or redesign, the Art Director or designer will have a limited perspective. And by designing a website based on solely the technical perspective you will similarly miss out on the opportunity to create an effective website that reaches your goals.
Creating corporate websites that ROCK in visual appeal and functionality require excellent planning and execution through team collaboration from a savvy group of professionals. There are many experts - those who understand: how visitors interact, business goals, usability, analytics, web development, Web Content Management (WCM) system selection, WCM integration, integration with 3rd party systems…and so on. There are experts who can envision future possibilities for a company’s website and imagine breakthrough technology to push a company ahead of its competition. There are sometimes (seemingly) limitations by the technology being used (such as the Web Content Management System). There are a myriad of issues and possibilities for any corporate website. But what I have found is that having the people responsible for each element such as visual design involved throughout the process will allow these experts to adapt, modify and propose the best solutions…ultimately delivering a better end-user and business-user experience that accomplishes the Goal.
You need to be more design savvy
Marketing Experiments often hosts webinars to discuss how to make landing pages more effective. They often analyze websites during the webinar and look at websites designed by agencies: often they’re pretty but there are often many ways to improve on the landing page conversion rate. The people creating the strategies at ad agencies do not understand the technology. You need an agency that, yes, follows a strategy, plan or agenda that includes the technology aspect. Without it the agency will create a partially effective website. A pretty website is useless if it doesn’t help achieve website goals.
If you are talking to a design firm, marketing agency or advertising agency about the design or redesign of a website – ask them about their expertise in usability, analytics, back-end technology, etc. Ask them if they partner with companies that specialize in areas outside the visual design. If they don’t, ask them why. When looking for a website design partner you really should make sure you find a team that collaborates throughout the process. This is why I love working with Oshyn: Oshyn uses a development process called SCRUM that evolves the development of a website in iterations allowing for improvements or corrections along the way.
I love having access to great conceptual, art direction and design skills.