So you have a vision for a great looking home page for a client and decide to make a mock-up you can send your Web developer. You work your magic to design something your whole team is excited about, and you send the PSD files over to your developer. A few weeks later, your design is rolled out, in all its glory, more or less. But what really happens on the HTML side of things? Are there ways that you and the developers can work more collaboratively? Are there things that you can do as a designer to make the development process more efficient?
Have you ever had a tiny pebble in your shoe—nothing major, you can just wiggle your foot and it feels better for a while—and you’re too busy to really do anything about it anyway? You could just take your shoe off and dump the thing out, but it’s not bothersome enough to go to that much effort, so you just put up with it.
Some Web sites are like that: They have little annoyances that aren’t irritating enough to send you elsewhere, so you put up with them. Maybe the navigation is a little counterintuitive, or certain pages take just a little too long to load, or the font size is just a bit too small. Not a big deal…until you find a competitor’s site that does it better, and you take your business there.
A lot of times, simple tweaks can make a big difference in how visitors perceive a site’s quality. That perception, in turn, can determine whether visitors dump out that tiny pebble of Web site irritation and go elsewhere.
Over the years we have been hired many times by companies who had hired a MODX “developer” (and I use the word MODX “developers” lightly b/c it was apparent they didn’t know MODX at all when coding) to build their site. We get the phone call from a potential client that typically goes like this:
“We hired Company X to build our website in MODX. But when we login it is a mess and no one on our team understands how to use it.”
Or we get the phone call from a potential MODX client that goes something like this:
“No one in our office has ever built a website nor knows HTML. Is MODX going to be easy for us to use?”
There really aren’t any reasons not to simplify subscription forms; heaven knows, no one’s crying for a more complicated and involved version. And yet, there are websites that seem to demand that subscribers volunteer their detailed information. This is no doubt so that the business can categorize the subscribers by demographic, gender, age, interests, education, browser, blood type, favorite restaurant, body mass index, and preferred reality show star. It’s all about really direct marketing. But we think you can do this with a simple subscription form, too.
The real reason to offer subscription forms is to generate piping hot leads. It doesn’t necessarily matter if the person filling out the form enters his or her entire mailing address; if that person orders your product or buys your service, that data will be forthcoming. Here are a few reasons you might want to try shorter and simpler subscription forms.
When you design any kind of housing body and internal components, which do you design first? Do you design the shell and then the materials that the shell is meant to house, or do you design the contents and then structure the shell to suit the contents’ dimensions? Would anyone design a product package before designing the product? Maybe, but someone also approved the filming of “The Lone Ranger,” so there is really no accounting for people’s judgment.
Although we are web guys by trade, even we have to admit that we don’t really want to visit websites for any reason other than to gather information. We don’t particularly care for cuteness; we don’t want our minds blown by Flash intros. If your website was conceived for the look and not to suit the content you propose then your website is serving neither you nor your public.
When it comes to web design, the nature and the type of content really must be determined before any concrete decisions should be made about web design. Having a supafly website without any regard for the information it is meant to house is just a waste of fancy graphics and futuristic interface. After all, no one who isn’t a web designer visits a website just to enjoy the unusually composed menu bar.
We all have busy lives. Our careers, families, hobbies and other obligations might have overwhelmed us and we simply have not had the time to update our websites the way that we should. Oh, sure — the internet is constantly evolving. Not six months can go by without some kind of major digital innovation, so maybe jumping up and refreshing your website every two seconds is only time wasted, since it will probably look dated in a month anyway.
But wait, your website is “best viewed on Internet Explorer 5.0!” Hoo, boy.
Alright, maybe it’s time for you to take stock of your website and finally enter the 21st century, a mere 14 years late. Now, we don’t want to fix what isn’t broken, but if your website still boasts one (or all) of the following seven features, we’d like to strongly suggest that your site isn’t earning you the kind of money, traffic or attention it could.
You Design. We Code.