Clearly Define Your Goals and the Work is Easier

Oct 3rd, 2009 | By | Category: Case Studies

I love the ques­tion so many peo­ple ask when I tell them what I do. “So, how much do you charge for a web­site?” The ques­tion is almost uni­ver­sal, so there must be some­thing to it. It’s as if every­one is famil­iar with the con­cept of tat­too flash on the wall of a par­lor. They pick the piece they want and the tat­too artist gives it to them. Sad­ly, web design is not that way.

I believe the prob­lem lies in the ten­den­cy for peo­ple to want some­thing but not know what it is they want. When it comes to design­ing any­thing, a car, a purse, a build­ing, a web­site, etc. there needs to be a set of require­ments. Usu­al­ly, the last one on the list is styling. When design­ing a logo or a user inter­face there is a set of require­ments, just like any­thing else.

Failing to plan is like Homer

Fail­ing to plan is like Homer

Have you ever seen the episode of the Simp­sons where Homer’s broth­er Herb asks him to design a car that’s per­fect for fam­i­lies? Homer jumps in with no plan and Herb is ruined. Herb defined his audi­ence, the fam­i­ly man with annoy­ing kids, but failed to account for Homer’s stu­pid­i­ty. I love Homer…

The plan is the impor­tant part of the design process. Every­thing else grows from the plan. You wouldn’t build a house then have an archi­tect blue­print it for you, would you? The same should be true of your web­site. If you have a design­er give you a price before the project is defined (or your design­er has a menu to choose from) odds are they aren’t a real design­er.

Gone are the days of assum­ing the Inter­net is a pass­ing fad. No web­site is as bad for busi­ness as no busi­ness card or tele­phone num­ber. Even if all you want to do is a sim­ple about us page with some con­tact infor­ma­tion, it’s vital that you get this done. That being the case, I can direct you to some folks who will do it on the cheap (I might even do it if I have the time). If you want to take full advan­tage of all the web has to offer, how­ev­er, you’ll need to devel­op a strat­e­gy and talk to some­one who can help you devel­op it.

Any com­pe­tent design­er is going to ask you ques­tions. It is vital to the process that you answer those ques­tions as com­plete­ly as pos­si­ble. Some of them may seem strange or irrel­e­vant, but answer them any­way. I like to ask clients what they’d want their web­site to do if they could have it do any­thing in the world. You’d be sur­prised by the answers I get (no, not that…). The rea­son I ask is, it cuts through the client’s pre­con­ceived notions and helps me under­stand what they’re real­ly after. I also like to know what they’d like to get from their web pres­ence in the short, medi­um and long term.

Every ques­tion you answer gets a good design­er or devel­op­er clos­er to real­iz­ing your vision. Every ques­tion you don’t answer is a hole that could result in dis­ap­point­ment for both of you. I seem to get clients that run the gamut states of pre­pared­ness. It’s my job to get them “com­plete­ly ready” before start­ing work. It’s bet­ter for both of us if I do that rapid­ly.

From your feed­back, we build a plan, and from the plan comes a proof. From the proof comes a fin­ished prod­uct. Every­body is hap­py if every­thing is defined. If noth­ing is defined, the project is like­ly to fail. If you cov­er as many bases as pos­si­ble at the out­set, you cut the chances of fail­ure by an order of mag­ni­tude.

Plan first, then build. It’s com­mon sense that should apply to every­thing, includ­ing a web­site.

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