A guest post by Pawel Grabowski
I recently had a lunch with one of my clients, a well-known and successful graphic designer. At some stage during the meeting our conversation shifted to the way our businesses and sales are going. And it was during that part that I was really stunned by my clients views.
He simply stated how easy it is for him to sell a website. His observation was that you can be pitching hard any graphic design related work but it is the minute you mention a website that your prospects eyes widen. Not to mention that he finally starts paying attention.
And I guess it’s true. Everybody wants a website these days. And with all the technology that surrounds us that we’re so used to, talking about websites is much much easier. All you need to do is mention some technology related stuff and you are an expert.
But there is a danger in this. Selling websites may be easy but it’s also really easy to promise a large system you can not deliver thinking you’re signing up for a simple site only.
I see this happening all the time. Just look at any web related forum out there. It’s full of designers trying to get advice on coding issues, or setting up servers, installing CMS systems and many others. And most of that only because the job exceeds their skills and capabilities.
So, what’s the solution then? Not selling websites at all and stick to print?
Definitely not. Those of you who know me know also that I am a big believer that design studios should expand and incorporate web services into their offer. To me, it is the only way for them to develop their business. And with the times to come it may be a single thing that will actually keep them in business.
What I am also constantly advocate is that in order to build a web career you need to learn, discover and master it. As one of my friends had put it, it’s a big jump from print to web. And you have to train really hard to land on the other side.
So, what do you need to know to understand more what you sell? And ultimately know what you need to deliver.
1. Understand the difference between web and print and realize one important thing, users do not visit your sites for their design.
No matter how silly this sounds it is actually one of the main reasons for many designers failing in delivering web projects. Designers tend to think that their work is the sole selling point of the website but in reality it’s the information contained on the site the only thing that matters to users.
2. Learn how to organize that information.
Learn how users read on the web, what helps them to scan your copy and find information most relevant to what they are looking for. Also you should know what makes great copy on the web and how to write a content that focuses on fulfilling your users needs.
3. Learn how to structure the site as well.
Master ways to build the sites structure so that your user has no problems whatsoever in finding what they are looking for.
4. Learn the technology behind websites.
Just like at the start of your design career where you had to learn the basics of print processes, with the web you need to know how the technology running the show works.
5. Investigate actual limitations of the design material you can use.
Fonts, colors and images all work different than with print. Once you know that difference the whole process of design will become much easier for you. Otherwise there may be some not so nice surprises waiting for you at the end of the road.
6. Understand how the code works.
If you design the site you should have at least a basic understanding of it. But by all means you don’t have to know how to code. All you need to know is what might cause you potential problems. You will be able to avoid those things at a design stage.
Now, all this seems like a lot. But when you think of it, these are really only the basic stuff that you need to know. Once you know them though selling website will be even much much easier. And you will be sure that you know what you sold and what you need to deliver.
Pawel Grabowski is a web usability and front end development specialist at think two, an Irish web consultancy working exclusively with designers and design studios. We help our clients win and deliver web projects of any size. He also publishes his own blog at http://www.papertopixel.org