Communication is the word, yes communication. It all goes horribly wrong sometimes.
I am a slow speaker, I know I am but once many years ago this was really brought into focus when I was trying to teach a friend how to ride a drop handlebar bicycle. She fell off at the point that I had said “take your hands off the lower part of the handlebars” and never got to hear me say “slowly, one at a time and move them to the top of the bars”. She survived (we didn’t). The point was that the communication clearly failed.
Frequently I hear people say things like “I need a website” or “I need an A4 brochure”. Rather foolishly some might say, I usually engage in a bit of Why-Mining by asking “why?”
To aid communication the emphasis is on the why not the mining. Why-mining is an effective although slightly annoying tool. Quite simply people frequently tend to already hold many of the answers that they seek, they just need someone to stand in front of them and ask them “why?”
“I need a four page A4 brochure”
“Because my competitor has one”
“Why does it need to be A4?”
“Because thats what they always are?
“Why do you need four pages?”
Eventually you will get to bedrock and even if this bedrock is “I don’t know”, that will be a good place to start.
The bottom line is that what we at DesignCredo are trying to find out is what is the customer’s story, the unique thing that they are trying to communicate to others.
Form Follows Function
Yes there are standards, paper size, press size, envelope size, but surely the function of a piece of print is to communicate a message, some information, your story, whatever that is. The same goes for websites or any other communication aid. Most websites offer an entry point and frequently a contact point. And yes your story may be similar to your competitors but hopefully it will be a bit different and that difference will be your selling point. And your story may fit neatly on one, two, four pages but it might not.
My Daddy Plays With Apples
Ask most children what their parents do and you won’t get much sense from them. When young I thought my father was in a jazz band when he in fact flew in aeroplanes. But then I thought that the man who came round to sell insurance was Lee Kuan Yew the prime-minister of Singapore where we lived when I was five.
The problem is that if one asks many adults what they do one may struggle to get much more in the way of sense from them. This is frequently the first great stumbling block when designing websites. Good people, able people, talented people often struggle to be able to say what they or their businesses actually do.
Initially I found this surprising but now I seem to have become somewhat resigned to it, I expect it to happen, I frequently pre-warn customers,
“You will reach a point where your new website asks questions about what you do”.
In truth there is a lot of trust needed between the client and the designer, quite often searching questions will need to be asked in order to get the website right. The designer really needs to know the ins and outs of your business in order to get the site working well. It is relatively easy to create a website. It is a much more considered piece of work to get the website to communicate the appropriate message.
Don’t Stop Me Now
Further to this websites need to be forward looking. It isn’t good enough to design a website for now, it will date horribly. In order to make your site future-proof you will need to trust your designer enough to share your plans and of course you will need to be able to articulate these.
DesignCredo specialise in WordPress sites. The appeal of these blog-sites is that they put the customer back in control. We offer expertise in setting the site up creating the look and extending the functionality of the site whether it is improving the PubSubHubbub capabilities or improving the SEO setup of the site. We have a lot of experience in making sites work effectively for search engines, we have faith in the WordPress platform. In addition we will probably encourage you to become more active in social networking, particularly Twitter. We expect content to be searchable on Google within seconds and minutes, we will help make your site perform.
However this means that ultimately our customers share the responsibility for making the sites work well. For us this is a good thing. Good businesses are thriving organic things that constantly develop. Why shouldn’t their websites be too?