What modern customers expect from web designers
Additional skills helping web designers perform their job
Once upon a time, web designer was only suppose to know… how to design web pages. Those times are gone and it is highly unlikely that they will ever come back. Clients’ needs and requirements are bigger, and skills of web designers are broader and broader. Looks like that we, web designers, have to constantly broaden our area of expertise…
Photoshop and Corel are not enough
Knowledge of graphic software and editors for programmers, gift to design, sense of taste, and… Not so long ago it was enough you could be full-time web designer with only those skills. In the past several years of the 21st century, the ability to use software developed on regular basis is unfortunately not enough.
There is a choice. You can limit yourself to only, let’s say, perfecting your Photoshop skills, and in this aspect become totally professional. To us, however, that approach is not satisfactory, because it limits our abilities to compete on more and more competitive market, creates bigger risk of failure, meaning, limited satisfaction of our customer. Why? For customer rarely needs only knowledge of particular software. When he comes to us, he wants to have done as many things as possible.
As professional web designers we know how to think in the context of web, as marketers. All the time we try to broaden our competences, not only through studies, but also courses and training. Client may expect from us looking at his order from this point of view. That we will design website that users will be willing to visit. Website stopped being some kind of online business card a long time ago. It has become huge endeavor, that should be designed with sense of purpose in mind.
Other ingredient of online marketing come into the picture now, knowledge of SEO, for example. Obviously, every client wants to have his website in the top place of Google search results. As we know, it won’t happen instantly. But you have to have specified, regularly updated knowledge in order explain it to the client. Proper optimizing is crucial piece of the puzzle and starting point for advancement of the website in search results. We know how to explain it to the client, we know current SEO trends and we know how to implement them on the website.
It is hard to imagine that contemporary web designer does not have a clue about social media: specifics of particular channel, how to advertise on it. Client, in the worst case scenario, “heard something about them” and wants to engage community, for example, on Facebook. There is a high probability that client uses social media, although doesn’t have to know how to do it from business perspective. However, we also have clients who are very aware of importance of social media in promotion of a brand.
Being designers we can to design interesting layout, timeline background or to suggest interesting solution, like usage of content aggregates, like Buffer, for that matter. Social media crisis knowledge or knowledge regarding community engagement are also among our numerous assets.
We try to update and upgrade our knowledge, using both Polish and foreign training hosted by notable experts in relevant field.
We think like copywriters
Copywriting is now among the most important marketing skills. It really requires effort to create good, interesting web content. Content that engages users, evoke emotions in them. There is really a place for showing your best in this field. Task is not easy at all, that why sometimes we choose to work with top-class copywriting agencies.
The truth is, that client knows (or at least should know) what should he or she has on website. But it is web designer’s duty to be the voice of reason, businessman and judge of elegance in one. This is the first thing. The second, only small piece of content hat end up on the website is created solely by web designer (error commands, for example). Also in such seemingly detailed issues we try to be professional, we really take care to have our content interesting so that user remembers it for the right reasons. Creative interpretation of error 404 could be a good example.
Client may claim that his idea of content is the best and cannot be better. Sometimes we face and uneasy challenge to make him or she realizing that it would be better to post something different on the website. Web designer is one of the first in line to perform that role. We impersonate some kind of testers and we take the burden of explanation what does actually mean to create right content and that copywriting is far more than just ability to write. That writing for the web has rules of its own. For example, when each section of the web page is written in different style, we explain that cohesion and consequence should be applied.
Awarness of contex
Also, long gone are times in which web page was entered only from PC. Smartphone and tablet are currently frequently used devices for browsing web. As web designers we are aware of that and we make our client be aware of that too, if doubts surface. Designer should know that what multi-device availability of websites mean and how users, for that matter, use pages designed for mobile devices. RWD, meaning, responsive web design, is not uncharted territory to us.
Next thing is… empathy. Quality that is our line of work is as grave as imagination. We try to feel what particular client could feel: 50 year old man on a business trip, teenage girl after school, mother with small baby who has to be carried, because it won’t stop crying. We consider how they may use websites. What is most important to them, what action they want to take on it? We take into consideration as many aspects as it is humanly possible. If individual pays bills on tablet it is good to design web so that client does that comfortably, easily, and as safely as possible. We remember that the more devices are on the market, the more contexts of use surface as well. Mobile technologies spread like a wildfire and we are aware of that.
Even though clients’ awareness increases, because they have easier access to information and constantly learn new things, there are still also such who want to use our services, but cannot say what for they actually need website in the first place. Then we show ourselves as persons who know why basically having a website is important, with who in mind should it be designed (meaning, specifying potential users). We tell the client what necessary conditions must be fulfilled to achieve success. Either is singing up for newsletter, comment, like or order of some commodity.
We walk client through the whole process to finally come to the point described as “call to action”, being call to perform specified activity.
No matter how absurd this paragraph may seem, everyday reality delivers to us examples of companies/persons not necessarily aware of what website is for and what they can achieve when they have one. We are well-prepared to fill them with relevant information about it. Answer “we do not know” or sending client to other interactive agency is definitely something we won’t do.
Knowledge of psychology
You can rely on intuition and be successful. You can also use knowledge from the field of psychology that helps to answer all aspects of dealing with client. Although it may seem that web designer uses mostly knowledge regarding graphic software or website coding, the truth is that in our job psychological knowledge prevails. Understanding of how works mind of the client that shows up at our doorstep with order to design website or mind of potential website visitor, is a direct way to grant full satisfaction.
Psychology is also useful in terms of website usability. As web designers we know very well how landing pages In particular branch look like, bookstores for example. We also know what they should include, where it should be placed and how to make it easy to navigate and first of all to buy, because this is top priority goal for website like this. How do we know that? In part thanks to life experience or professional one, but mostly thanks to psychology.
Over are times when only because we can design and code, translating into nicely looking websites, our duties are over. Today our clients more and more frequently want to have website not only attracting users, but only engage them, attach them to the brand. In order to do that we must run really meticulous analysis based on quite comprehensive psychological knowledge. It helps us to offer client engaging content, will properly promote website, services, products. Such website will motivate user to take action.
You probably do not live of a deserted island, have friends, fellows, acquaintances, you observe how they behave, you listen what, where and how they buy. It is very precious knowledge that you can use in work, because it helps to understand so-called human nature.
Perfecting web design is not an easy skill and also not acquired quickly, and every knowledge that we have may eventually become insufficient to survive in the market. That’s why we try to increase our qualifications, to acquire new skills, enter new territories. Perfect ability to use graphic software, design trends and coding is definitely something and we believe that we are good at what we do and our clients’ opinions on this matter concur. But to be sure that need for our services will be bigger and bigger and their quality higher and higher, we spend a lot of time to educate ourselves. Especially that we have lots of opportunities of expanding knowledge, sometimes even at the comfort of our home.
Having perfected popular graphic software and a couple of programming languages, expanding knowledge from that field doesn’t seem to be big challenge. If new version of software enters the market or new way of coding, we try to implement it quickly. We also often use knowledge from different fields. Marketing, copywriting, psychological. We check blogs of experts, e-books, you can spot us on various conferences, we participate in webinars. We read expert articles, analyze case studies. Every subdivision of marketing has its own experts, educational base, also in Polish. Barbara Stawarz or Paweł Tkaczyk definitely know a lot about good copywriting, Sławek Gdak or Łukasz Żelezny have wonderfully explored SEO. There is abundance of stuff and we are willing to check it and we use it when we do projects for our clients.
To recapitulate, we do not warrant, we ensure that we do not have knowledge is above mentioned fields on academic level, but as web designers we aware enough to suggest right solutions to the client. We believe that thing done once and in a good way, will make customer fully satisfied and his return for our services in the future. Perhaps with friends who needs web designer, perhaps with new project or with expansion of existing one.