How much website do you need? – part 2

Design for the results you need

There are a ton of beautiful websites which have been carefully constructed by skilled web designers and yet their  owners are not getting the service or the results they expected.

There are some basic axioms about results: You have to specify what results you want beforehand. Then, you have to measure what you achieved or it is all guesswork.

Let’s take a look at the kind of website that needs to show current content to attract visitors. One of the best examples is the website for a restaurant. The owner wants to show off the unique features of the place, the menu, and upcoming events. When the website is first constructed, it usually does a great job in all three areas.

One month later, the menu and the list of events is out of date. Two months later, the site is up to date for a week and then the list of events and the menu is stale.

Over a period of a year, the website might actually present correct information for ten weeks out of fifty two. The website may be graphically interesting, but it is not useful as a source of information.

Whose fault is this? Not the web designer necessarily, he can only update the site when new information is available. The restaurant owner? Perhaps. She has many fish to fry and updating the website is not at the top of the list, even when a crisis-free moment actually occurs.

Updating the site requires writing copy and taking pictures, sending an email to the webmaster with the new information and specific remarks on what has to be deleted or revised.

The webmaster has to schedule the change and then do it. If he is really organized, he will send an email notifying the restaurant owner that the changes are made.

When the restaurant owner finally gets around to looking at the site again, she notices that one of the changes is not right and the cycle starts all over again. Two people are involved in a cycle that can take several days.

Doesn’t this remind you of what it took to write and send a letter in the pre-wordprocessing, pre-email days? This old-fashioned approach is no longer necessary with some of the web publishing tools that are now available.

To learn more:

Let your needs drive the design process

Let’s turn the process around. Instead of designing a beautiful website
and driving yourself crazy trying to keep it updated, why not figure
out how many times a month you want to update your website and select
web publishing tools and a website design to support that requirement?

You might be surprised at the elegant simplicity of the sites you can build and maintain with that design philosophy.

In the next few posts, we will explore some of the options that will give you a site that is always fresh and interesting

On the other hand, what if the end goal of your website is to establish
yourself as an outstanding artist and you want only the highest quality
graphic presentation possible. You have seen some Flash-powered
websites that set your heart pumping and you want that effect for your site! Well, you can have them for a price, but you may not like the trade-offs involved.

We’ll take a look at the upsides and downsides of using these high-powered content delivery systems also.

Stay tuned…

UPDATE: There are now four parts to this article:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

UPDATE 2: Since I began this series of posts, I have begun providing webhosting
services as well as website design for several clients. If you are an
artisan or a startup business in SW Virginia and you are looking for a
site design that is customer-centered, I might be able to help you out.
Send me an email.

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