It’s All Lies
How can you find the best website design companies? It’s not easy. Every client that has put out an RFP for a website can relate to the feeling that they are being lied to, perhaps deliberately mislead, or just that internet experts are one step removed from cure-all charlatans.
After countless hours reading or hearing website design companies talk about their “proven solutions,” “one-stop shop” capabilities, and case studies, you’ll often be more confused about the right direction than when you started.
Can’t they just talk to you in plain English?
Giants of Chaos
Clearly the best website design companies are online, right? Yet often researching it online doesn’t seem to help much. The Internet is a strange conglomeration of every form of organization known to man seeking to define the way information is exchanged for their benefit. From media mega-conglomerates, to Google, Apple and Microsoft, the giants of industry have a lot at stake in what appear to be inconsequential and arcane issues.
Anyone hanging out on Google News saw Apple’s spat with Adobe over Flash, and Facebook’s fight with the government over privacy.
Down in the trenches of the digital universe is the intrepid web developer – seeking to make the world a better place by shepherding you, Indiana Jones style, through the chaos to your own personal treasure trove of more sales and happier customers online.
Only this one is completely self-taught, and his biggest problem is that whatever he did yesterday needs a little update today, because the entire Internet got one little tweak that changed everything… again.
Websites aren’t Products
I love hearing businesses talk about how they need to “Get a new website.” It’s almost like listening to my sisters talk about shoes, or my brothers about video games.
We’ve come to see our websites as consumer products, needing a fashion update ever couple years.
Sadly the reality is much worse. The web is a living breathing entity that changes every day.
Most business websites, developed by your friendly neighborhood web provider, look nice on your computer when you signed the check, but are broken for 30% or more of your viewers who don’t happen to use Internet Explorer on Windows Vista. By the way, that percentage grows every month.
And while you’re at it, factor in that in about two short years, more people will be surfing the web on a phone then on a computer, and all the cool colorful whizbang you have on your site (or your entire site if it’s in flash) can’t even be seen.
Then go one step further. Google used to be about searching information that was posted on the web, you know, back when people posted articles on a topic and four years later you could still find them. Now, Google has updated their search system with Caffeine (yes, it’s literally called that), and now whatever is being tweeted about and shared on Facebook shows up. Whatever isn’t shared, doesn’t register.
Top that all off with the fact that every year having an up-to-date website that meets customers expectations grows in importance for a business’s survival, and it’s no wonder that even little non-profits are flocking to seminars trying to understand what Twitter can do to save puppies.
Power to the People I’ve worked as a web developer for over a decade, working as everything from a Senior Technology Consultant to the Fortune 500 to freelance digital wingman for the local general contractor. I have an obsession with business growth through technology.
Everyone in this business likes to say they have the edge, obviously, but often they only have one piece of the puzzle. Once you understand the puzzle that is the web, you’ll know the dirty little secret of our industry and more importantly, how to make sure it doesn’t bite your business you know where. Knowing these secrets will help you find the absolute best website design companies.
Design, Development, Communication
There are three types of creatures needed to create a website:
1. Designer: someone who knows how to make things look pretty, or at least how to prevent it from looking like a used-car lot.
2. Development: research has shown that if someone comes to your site and it doesn’t work, they will never return. Hopefully, this guy isn’t just making your site do something cool, but also making sure it actually keeps on doing.
3. Communication: PR and Marketing are still battling it out to determine who should decide what is communicated on the web, but suffice it to say, they both probably have more people skills than your designer and developer combined.
Without a clear, simple idea, translated into a visual image, with some buttons for your customers to push, you don’t have a website that can do its job. None of the above three creatures, by the way, understand each other.
Then add the rowdy cowboys to this triumvirate:
– Internet Marketing consultants: people who can either show they’ve increased someone’s sales online by at least 20% or they are just quoting Wikipedia to you and have no idea what they are talking about.
– Social Media consultants: see above.
These two represent the two things that give a website any reason to exist: search engines, and search through word of mouth – also known as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.
Now ask yourself, have you ever met a company that can show they are good at all the above?
No, You Can’t
That’s because making really good websites doesn’t make money for web design companies. Making what people ask for online is what makes web designers and developers money. PR and Marketing companies both know that as long as their customers aren’t losing money, and their competitors don’t offer lower prices, they’ll probably keep their jobs. The Internet Marketers and Social Media experts have to prove themselves every day, but what they do can be learned, taught to an intern, and then… “goodbye consultant.”