True or False: 9 Most Common Web Development Stereotypes
10 years of managing my own web studio got me questioning the common stereotypes associated with web development. When we started off, it was obvious that we had to fight for our clients, prove our expertise and learn the trending new technologies fast. But with work comes experience, and today I find myself looking at many things from a different angle.
Here are 9 most widespread alleged “facts” about web design that average Internet users (and novice web developers) would think to be true.
All sound logical, but are they really some kind of axioms? Well, let us try and find out.
1. Web design is about making visually stunning digital wonders
It’s about meeting the client’s business objective. It is better to produce a simple site that will benefit the client than come up with a pretty one that will not. It is often a hard lesson for the rookie developers to see all the creativity they have put into the project rejected by the client. But you must embrace the fact that you are not artists, and clearly understand what your job is. Analyze the purpose of each of your projects, and then apply the creative approach where it’s justified.
Look at this website of a wholesale meat trader. The title and imagery go a fair way to suggest the purpose of this website. But you still remain clueless about this company and how to start dealing with them. I’m not saying this is the worst site on the web. It’s just a baffling shame that users need to scroll past numerous pieces of floating meat to get to the information that’s important.
When fulfilling your client’s business objective, you have to make sure your product will benefit your client. If it creates more obstacles for their business, no matter how stylish or interesting your idea is, you will hit both yours and your client’s reputation in the long run.
2. The client always has a final say
They may wish so, but truth, they should not. The client hired you for your expertise in the first place. So it would be strange if you put the burden of decision on their shoulders. A good web studio shows that they are the expert, and that they know better which solution is good for what.
It is wise to listen to the client’s arguments and look for compromise, but people will never recognize you as experts if you remain a “yes, Sir!” type of studio.
Here is a snapshot of one of my early projects where the client insisted on a great number of changes to the initial concept. In the end, the original idea was almost lost, and we came up with a mediocre website, which did not give my client any competitive leverage.
3. The bigger the website – the better for the client
It is fair to say that most clients envision the Wikipedia-scale websites when they come to the first meeting. But you must not forget that it’s all about business goals. The website does not have to contain excessive loads of data. It has to be informative, but convenient.
Here is a website we’ve designed few years ago for a drinking water supply service. Initially, the client insisted on having 48 pages, but based on our consumer research, we managed to fit everything in just 8. This enhanced the conversion by 9 times!
4. Small studios are more productive than big ones
More flexible – maybe, but more productive – hardly so. There is a limited amount of work a team of five can do. So unless you don’t want your 500+ page project to be completed in the next century, it’s wise to look for a large-scale web producer.
Moreover, agencies rarely work for a single client at a time. The smaller the team, the harder it is to distribute responsibilities and balance the workload.
However, Sumy Designs brings out that since small agencies are working with fewer employees, the jobs are often turned faster. That might be confused with higher productivity.
5. Studios that are slow to learn new web technologies are doomed to drag behind
Although it’s not worth following the trends blindly as much as keeping a step ahead of them. When we started 10 years ago, Flash was the next big thing, and we took the advantage of working with it before most of our competitors did. 5 years ago, the same thing happened with HTML5.
Today, we are looking at AR and VR, and conducting research on how these technologies can be implemented on our websites. So, if you want your studio to have continuous leverage, you have to embrace the next big thing in web design before it becomes ‘cool’.
Also, that way you will be increasing the lifespan of your web products. Due to smart usage of HTML5 and the toast menu, some of our sites made in 2012 still look fresh today. Here is one as an example.
6. Cost of website development is based on the amount of working hours
It is based on a great number of factors, of which working hours is just one, and not even the most important. For example, you have to take into account:
- the complexity of works
- the level of client’s content backing
- the CMS platform and back-end tools
- the changes in the process.
Here is a quick summary of a research we did regarding the average landing page cost breakdown.
This estimation does not take iterations into account, but believe me – iterations will be made. During the project’s timeframe, you will see that your idea will evolve and pick some extra baggage. Neither you, nor the client are able to predict what that baggage would be. So my practice is to always include 20% of extra costs on amendments. Then you can make these amendments with the light heart.
7. Web design studios have to fight over client attraction
Young and inexperienced ones often do. But an accomplished web studio can choose and refuse. I won’t hide it – we have had some web development projects that did not work out, due to variety of reasons. Studios who deny their failures are not being honest with themselves and their clients.
In fact, analyzing failures helps you to define which clients your studio would be better without. For me, it is wiser to let the client go to a competitor, than take his task knowing that you cannot complete it by 100%.
1stwebdesigner advices agencies not to treat clients as as job orders, but instead to see them as people who have expectations, dreams, and disappointments. That’s why it’s essential to make sure that you choose clients who you’d want to have long-term relationships with.
8. Small studios are much more common than big ones
This is not only because small studios are easier to manage, but also because a lot of them are afraid to expand. Obviously, you are comfortable with running a nice little team. But 10 people will never be capable of achieving what 50 could.
That is why most small developer teams stop growing and function as family businesses. Yet, if you are ambitious to create the world-class websites, you must overcome the challenges of the growing staff. Having learned how to scale once, you’ll have only the sky as your limit. Growing from 50 to 500 is a lot less painful than from 10 to 50.
If you’re in the process of scaling, check out this article by Docurated. They’ve gathered opinions of 33 top ad agency experts on the mistakes companies make when they scale. For example, Ray White, a C-level exec with 30+ years of marketing experience suggests:
The single biggest mistake (ad) agencies face as they scale is keeping employees engaged, excited, and productive in what is becoming a virtual work place.
That advice applies equally to design agencies.
9. Best studios win web design awards
I would say that they are more likely to win awards. For a good web producer, prizes and recognition never come as end in itself, but only as a tool for good publicity and further promotion.
So it’s fair to say that the coin has two sides. You might stumble upon a prizewinner with one impeccable work, and then find out that their other projects are rather mediocre. Or, you might research a studio’s portfolio, and then discover a great lot of their works holding prizes.
However, as stated by mcgarrybowen, all creative agencies should WANT to win awards because:
- Awards are great for business
- Awards are great for morale
- Awards are great for retention and recruitment of staff
BIO: Eugene Kudryavchenko is the co-founder and CEO of Vintage Web Production – one of the most awarded web design studios in Eastern Europe. Passionate web developer and web marketing popularizer. Mentor at Entrepreholic conferences, and frequent speaker on client-oriented service, team building and web design tendencies. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.