I recently typed-up my responses to this interview on new challenges facing website designers. I wanted to post it here, as well.
1. What are the biggest challenges website designers face today?
David Reeve: For small businesses, world market freelancers and DIY website-building technology has lowered the costs, lowered expectations and increased competition; quality construction, artistic integrity and lifetime support of a new website is rarely valued in this scenario. Larger corporations and digitally-savvy companies are more likely to buck this trend.
2. Which tools and/or strategies have you implemented in the past 12 months to best overcome these challenges?
DR: I overcome the challenge by bundling the website with other complimentary services. No, not just the obligatory SEO and pay-per-click but instead I offer content marketing, public relations, branding, plus investment and marketing strategy. This ensures that the website is a hub for a company’s marketing activities and business development goals.
3. What part of a website’s design do you feel is the most important for an enterprise’s success (e.g. navigation, font, call-to-actions, images, etc.), and why?
DR: Writing is most important, second to intuitive navigation. Companies often have a hard time explaining (with brevity) what they sell and how to buy it. Writing needs to be clear and free of jargon and ambiguity.
4. How do you spot a design trend from a design dud?
DR: A design dud opts for spectacle over simplicity. The duds tend to jam up browsers while they load their fancy videos and artwork while users search desperately for a menu nav.
5. Which website design trend would you like to see die, and why?
DR: Parallax design in WordPress. I’ve rarely find it attractive, the frame size is too flexible creating unexpected results. It’s become a cliche among WordPress designers.
6. How do you find a balance between equipping a website with all of the latest bells and whistles, yet not compromising its performance (i.e. speed)?
DR: All things in reasonable quantities. A good speed is a reasonable goal and your quality customers will wait an extra millisecond if they truly intend to spend money with you. Page load-bouncers were only window-shopping anyways.
7. What is your favorite design or development tool and why?
DR: WordPress and Adobe. I use mainstream, reliable tools so that my customers don’t feel my methods are niche or non-repeatable.
8. What can a client do to make your job as a designer easier?
DR: My ideal customer will collaborate, invest is using the website – not just building it, be responsible for providing content as needed, and read their analytics reports once in a while.
David Reeve is a freelance marketer, designer, and public relations consultant.