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How The Future of the Web Affects Web Designers?

The Podcast Episode with Brent Weaver

The Web is a dynamic place. What worked a few years ago might be obsolete now or have developed into a more sophisticated version. A few years back, apps were introduced changing the web landscape once again. Nowadays, as the world lean towards the digital as well as into social media, the rules and the landscape are shifting once again. Because of this, it is not surprising to hear someone declare that the Web is dead.

That declaration that something or someone is dead is not unfamiliar territory. When Nietzsche declared the death of God during the 18th century, it has become one of the most widely used quotes to  declare the demise of something that is becoming irrelevant. So is the Web dead or is it going to die because of the emergence of these new technologies and ecosystems?

The Web is the Standard

Brent Weaver, the president and founder of Ugurus and the popular 10K Boot Camp, believes otherwise. He has been in the business quite long enough to see and discern which predictions and claims have substantial evidence in order for them to come to pass.

What he said makes much more sense than the naysayers. He said that there is not yet a technology that is as standardized and prolific as the Web. It may look like the app is dominating the tech and web design world nowadays, but it has its limitations compared to the World Wide Web.

Just take for example the app ecosystem which is divided into two – the Apple ecosystem and the Android ecosystem. This limits how you use your phone because it is dependent on what ecosystem you are in. The Web, however, does not have any limitations, you can access it in any way using any kind of phone or device you’re on.

Because of that standardization and unification, the Web has become so prevalent that it is not going away. In fact, statistics say that in the year 2000 alone, there are more than 300 million people connected to the Internet. And now in 2015, there are more than 3 billion people in it – that’s ten times the increase in just a matter of 15 years.  Because of this, web designers are not going anywhere. On the contrary, there are more opportunities for web design professionals more than ever, especially in the area of digital marketing. Companies and organizations are looking for digital consultants who are well-versed in the intricacies of the Web and Internet marketing.

Overcoming Insecurity Caused by New Technologies

Aside from the doomsday sayers, web designers also feel threatened by the emerging technologies,  especially app development, which they feel are drawing more money than web design. That is why more and more designers often find themselves asking the question – how the future of the web affects web designers?

Brent, however, brushes off these fears, saying that web designers should not feel threatened or insecure about these new trends because, in the first place, they’ve been around even before the Web came to be. He explains that when he thinks of an app developer, he does not just think of someone who builds mobile apps, but also of someone who develops software application. And software development has been around even before the Web existed.

He further added that developing software applications for mobile phones or as web applications are already high level stuff, specifically for software engineers. And software engineers have been one of the top paid positions for years because of the kind of work they do. Therefore, if you want to make more money as a developer, you have to become more and more of an engineer.

However, websites these days do not require a high amount of development. What they do require is for somebody to understand the Internet as an ecosystem of many different technologies and to understand what their customers ultimately need for their websites.

Do they need more customers? Do they need more donors? Do they need more volunteers? What they want is to access those 3 billion people on the Web.

When you begin to have that kind of perception when you design your clients’ websites, landing pages, funnels, opt-ins, and lead magnets and they get the end results they desire, you will be able to get more money with the work you do.

Will Facebook Pages Replace Websites

Another reason why a lot of people predict the demise of websites is the emergence of Facebook. Why not when you can almost do anything on it – from promoting your latest products and services to creating buzz.

Brent was quick to counter this saying that relying mostly on a Facebook page and putting all your content there is like you setting up an office in a place you didn’t own. Sure, you may use all the amenities, but the bottom line is, it’s still not yours.

When you have your own website, it’s yours – it’s your own office, your own hub. Most importantly, it’s in your servers. No matter what you do with it, you can do it without answering to anyone.

Facebook, however, can do anything with your asset, like it’s their own. The moment you put your content to Facebook, you’re agreeing that they can do anything with it. They can or cannot drive traffic to your page without your permission. In short, you are bound by Facebook rules and its ecosystem.

For a little exercise, try to go out and ask someone if they are willing to give their website up for a fan page. That would be just like asking someone to give up their rights in their own homes.

We have seen the catastrophic results of such move in a smaller scale in terms of the App ecosystem. We have seen business models that have been killed overnight because of the changes to the Apple rules and regulations. We’ve seen businesses killed overnight when Apple decided to launch their own flashlight app. It’s not really a big problem, but we still see it happen.

Whereas, with the Web, you can do anything with your website because it’s your property. You can do anything with it as long as you’re not doing something illegal. You can keep it running 24/7 and do anything with it.

If you get an opt-in on your website, you own the marketing rights to that email address. On the other hand, if somebody like your page on Facebook, you don’t know that. If somebody buys your app in the App store, you don’t own the customer.

The dynamic of who owns the platform, the customers, or the data, will always have a drive. So make sure you have that ownership of some aspect of your business.

But You Can Use It to Your Advantage

One thing that Facebook has been really good at is democratize traffic. It has taken billions of people into its platform and started to categorize them according to their likes, interests, activities, what time of day they log on, and more. So when you think about traffic, Facebook has the people.

Because of that, it has made the job of a web designer or a marketing specialist a lot easier. You can go to Facebook and buy traffic that is extremely demographically targeted in a matter of ten minutes. You can even go to Facebook now and target 500 males anywhere in the world.

What Facebook has done, according to Brent, was to provide a very reliable traffic source for web designers. So if you have a piece of valuable content, if you have an offer, if you have a company or client you’re building a website for, and you’re telling them that you need to drive traffic to their website in order for the things that you’re building to bring value to their business, you can always go to Facebook. Within an hour, you will be able to target humans going to that website that you’ve just built.

Conclusion

So if you’re a web professional, you should not be afraid of what Facebook, or Google, or the apps are doing. These things are not threats, but are rather complements to what you are creating. They have gotten people to spend more time online. Add to that the crazy amount of people who log into the Web every hour, every day. With these basic factors alone, you can clearly say that the Web isn’t dying nor is it going anywhere. On the contrary, it is growing and expanding giving you more and more opportunities.

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What Is An Effective Web Design And What Makes Good User Experience?

The Podcast Episode with Christian Vasile

The Importance of User Experience

We live at an age and time where everything is accessible but also in an era where people’s attention span gets shorter. Therefore, in a race to attract prospective customers, companies of all sizes and shapes come up with ways and means to do that. In the process, the World Wide Web receives an abundance of things, both useless and useful. The sad thing, however, is the useless things grow in numbers ruining the whole user experience.

Ruin might be too strong a word according to Christian Vasile, a web architect and also one of our writers here on 1WD. For him, a good web designer is still able to turn it around and re-design into something better to enhance user experience. However, this process involves a lot of factors, which involves the cooperation of your clients. The greatest question, however, is how do you get that cooperation, and how does it contribute to the whole idea of user experience.

User Experience and Client Trust

Most, if not all, web designers understand and are aware what user experience is. They know how essential it is to conversion. Any good designer will not only think about how awesome a website looks like, but he will also consider other factors, such as functionality and user experience, when he creates a website.

Clients, on the other hand, especially those who have no background or idea whatsoever about web design (and there’s a great many of them), do not know these factors. What they want is for you to build them a website that’s good to look at, or a website they saw because it’s doing well. They will pay you to get the job done without worrying about the specifics.

Therefore, it is your job as a web design professional to sit with your clients and tell them about these specifics and make them understand why one element is necessary, while the other element is not beneficial.

For a web design professional who has already had a portfolio to show and the experience to back him up, this is not a problem. All you have to do is show them that portfolio and you won’t have a hard time convincing them. They might be a little hesitant at the beginning but knowing you have done similar successful projects in the past will encourage them to take risks.

The problem is when you are a new web designer who is just starting to carve a name in the industry with no portfolio or experience whatsoever. More often than not, clients will even think they are doing you some sort of goodwill for trusting you even without prior experience. Rarely does it happen, and it would be a very special case, that a client will take the risk and follow a newbie.

That can be pretty frustrating because you, as a designer, knows that the red button on the takeout field is a bad idea. So, poof! There goes what is supposed to be a good user experience had your client only listened.

The Important Element

Web design professionals have their bad days, but there are also good days and one of them is when your client decides to listen to you and follow your advice. When it happens, the challenge is to identify which element needs to be changed or improved.

There are many elements in a website, including speed, navigation, About Us page, space, contact information, and so on. Where do you begin and how do you even choose which is which.

The answer is simple – It depends a lot on the type of web page or the type of business your client has. For example, if you are working on an e-commerce website, the most important thing you have to look out for is their forms and their check-out process. How quick is that? How difficult is that? Are you asking for information that you don’t really need?

You can draw inspiration from your own experience. Remember when you go and purchase something in an e-commerce website, which one do you remember as a consumer – the form where you only have to enter two types of information or the long one where you have to provide a lot of information, some of which are even unnecessary to your purchase?

You, of course, will remember the one which gave you a convenient and favorable experience. Depending on how fast you write, you might even finish filling out the two-field form within 15 seconds. You not only remember the experience, but it is also the very same reason that brings you back to the website.

On the other hand, if you are working on a freelancer website, you have to pay attention to the content as well. Many times you will see a very awesome website in terms of the aesthetics but has awful content where the freelancer brand themselves as a jack-of-all-trades.

This is bad for business. You have to determine what you are best at and make it your brand. If you are good at design, brand yourself as that and not as a can-do everything designer. Brand yourself on your niche.

The Importance of Copy in Web Design

One of the elements often overlooked by web design professionals is the copy as well as how they structure the design in order to highlight the copy on that page. A lot of web designers are so consumed with the aesthetics believing that a good-looking website is the best website.

So what most designers do is spend a lot of their time building mock-ups and keep postponing until deadlines come and we just throw in any text that comes to mind to fill that beautiful website. The website is still beautiful, but the low-quality copy ruined it.

It is a fact that most, if not all, web designers have been programmed to be visual beasts blinded by the aesthetics. Little do most know that a low-quality copy will pull down and make the design suffer.

The truth is design and copy are two inseparable entities. When a user visits a website, they don’t just see the design or the copy, they see the website. And both contributes to the whole user experience, which can be good or bad. Unless you are creating a website for fun and not for something professional, your design should always make the message stronger and not the other way around.

The Importance of Communication

As mentioned earlier in the article, your clients are also a big contributing factor in creating a good user experience for the websites you build for them. That is if they do not want what you suggest is good for their website and they insist on what they want, then you cannot do anything. The old age adage is still true that the customer is still king – they still have the final say.

In order to do this, communication is very important. Communication is easy if your boss or client is just around the corner. However, if you are working remotely, that would be quite a challenge, especially of you’re working with several clients because each client are different. Some clients want you to report to them regularly while some will give you all the freedom and will not communicate until the project is finished.

What differentiates a great designer from a good designer is how well you’re able to communicate with clients and how well you’re able to manage your clients. This is also a big factor why clients will return to you because, for the first time, you did quality work for them and they feel that your collaboration with them went smoothly.

Conclusion

A good web design and good user experience does not just happen when a user visits your website and enjoys its aesthetics. It is not just what’s happening in the front end but also at the back end. It does not even start when you start putting those codes together to create a website. Instead, it starts with your client trusting you and how well you communicate with him. That is because when a client understands what you are doing and you clearly communicate why you’re doing it, he will trust you. Then, you can create something that you, as an expert, know will work and not just because your client tells you to do it.

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Thyme for Design – An Accidental Web Design Success

The Podcast Episode with Thyme for Design

Success Story from Thyme for Design

When you look at awesome scientific discoveries, you will observe that most of them were made by accident – from Newton’s gravity to Spencer Silver’s Post-It notes. Gretchen Cawthon and Trina Fisher of Thyme for Design also consider their entry to the web design industry an accident – a successful accident at that.

Calling themselves the left side and the right side of the brain, Gretchen and Trina didn’t foresee a career in the web design industry. Gretchen was a music major preparing to become a percussionist while Trina worked as a high school relations officer educating kids which college major and career path to pursue. Although both of them dabbled in computers and design, they never thought that it will lead them to web design and development.

The most remarkable thing, however, is how they were able to discover their niche and make it successful despite their obvious differences in personality. How can two smart and creative women manage to work harmoniously and successfully without getting into each other’s throat?

That is what this success story is all about and much more than that.

Embracing Differences

There’s a pervading belief that women are competitive and can’t get along. Women are competitive, period. The idea, however, of women not getting along might have a degree of truth in them, but it is not true in these women’s lives.

It is also a fact that differences between two people, most especially creatives, can become a scourge when it comes to collaboration. However, Gretchen and Trina have used these differences to create something positive and income-generating.

By being different, they are able to bring different and exciting perspectives to a certain project. According to their own words, the clients are getting double the brain power with Gretchen, the left side of the brain, taking on most of the technical side of work while Trina, the right side of the brain, takes care of the more creative aspects of the business.

It also helps that they are able to forge a friendship outside the workplace first because it allows them to understand other areas of each other’s life. By understanding each other, they are able to embrace their differences and balance their partnership.

Finding Their Niche

One of the dilemmas a web designer faces is the niche they would focus on. Some choose the niche where they would focus on while others discover it along the way. Gretchen and Trina belong to the second group. In fact, the story of finding their niche is as consistent as how they become involved in this industry – by accident.

A client who was not in any way not part of the niche they are in right now introduced them to someone from the health and fitness industry who wants a website. The collaboration and rapport was amazing and soon they discovered that they are comfortable doing business with people from the health and fitness niche.

From this experience, the pair advise their fellow designers who are trying to find or still do not know which niche they would focus on to look for people they are comfortable working and doing business with. Once you are comfortable, you will be able to effectively communicate with each other. And effective communication yields better results.

Teaming Up for Success

Teamwork is a big thing between Gretchen and Trina. It is what balances their partnership. It is the product of embracing their differences. This culture of working as a team reflects on how they deal with their clients as well. It is one of the factors that make their web design business thrive and succeed. It is what made them sit down to re-write and refine the process they present to their clients.

How did they get there?

Being graduates of the 10K Boot Camp, the pair experienced a mindset shift in viewing web design as a business and not just a job. Part of that mindset shift involved conveying the value of what they do to their clients. However, before they can convey that value, their clients need to see the process involved so they can understand what the value is and where it is coming from.

That is what the dynamic duo did – rewrite and refine the process they have so they are able to go with their clients every step of the way. After communicating the process, they meet with their clients on a weekly basis so that they (the clients) are always aware where they are at in the process.

This is what they want their clients to feel – that they are part of the team. That they are willing to go with their clients beyond the launch of the website. They want to help their clients grow their business.

On Boosting Sales and Rejecting Clients

Like most other web designers, Gretchen and Tina started in the industry accepting work that is below the real value of their work. They didn’t know how much their value really is. That means accepting a $500-rate for maybe a thousand-dollar worth of effort.

That was their story. Now, they have a client who is willing to invest $12,000 without any second thoughts.

How were they able to do it?

The greatest question, however, is – Are you able to do it?

One of the things Gretchen and Trina learned from their experience and also from the classes they had during the 10K Boot Camp is value. In fact, you will hear and read about value in all of our podcast episodes.

Everything starts with value. How you value yourself, your work, and your client. If you realize this, you are able to focus on your goals which eventually lead to success. That is because value will help you think outside the box.

For Gretchen and Trina value means being means reflecting the voice of their clients and presenting it to an average person in the most relatable way. This area is much easier for them because they can give a different view of the niche to their clients – they understand the language but they are outsiders of the health and fitness industry.

Value also means being honest with a client if they are the best fit for the job or not. Gretchen said that their goal is not to really land a big project or celebrity client but to help their clients get where they want to go. If they feel they are not the best fit after talking with their clients, they honestly reject the client and refer them to another who can do the job best.

With this attitude, they are letting their clients feel that they are an investment rather than an expense.

Another way of showing value to their clients is to delve into their client’s pain points. Why does a certain client want to build a website? Based on their experience, a lot of their clients are clueless why they want a website in the first place. ‘Just because others have, I want one’ is the usual reason. For the pair, this is not enough because it defeats their purpose – to help their clients grow their business.

This step is the most important because once they understood their client’s pain points, they are able to create a customized solution to help each of their clients reach their goals. The best thing, however, is their clients become much more willing to invest once they understood the value.

Lastly, avoiding technical jargon when talking to their clients is also one way of showing value to their clients. Every web designer/developer should keep in mind that most, if not all, of their clients do not speak the same language as they do. Which means that they don’t care about the technical tools or strategies you will use to build their website. What they care most about is the end result – will the website serve the purpose they want it to have in the first place?

Parting Words

Getting back to the question – Are you able to do it?

Absolutely!

For Gretchen, giving your clients hope that they can do it and be able to stick with it is the key. However, she added, you must have the capability to back up your claim. In short, you need to walk your talk.

For Trina, it’s about taking chances and not being afraid of taking chances. Every success undergoes trial and error. It also about being a better communicator. How? By asking questions. Your clients talk, you listen and identify their pain points.

Finally, becoming a life-long learner is the key to success. Change is constant, especially in the web design industry where new tools, techniques, and strategies are dynamic. Aside from keeping abreast with the latest, becoming a life-long learner also makes you humble, smart, and relatable – very important elements when it comes to value.

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