Home – New Forums Tell me straight… Web Design/Development … an art or a commodity?

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  • #1007394
    linkartist
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    Actually, I do code pretty much everything from scratch, because I use XHTML/CSS and very few of my layouts have the same requirements.

    Of course, I use snippets for PNG fixes and resets etc etc, but just about every site I do is bespoke. Not for the sake of it, but because I tend to create custom solutions.

    And if I do a full Flash site (I am also a Flash developer/designer) 99% of it is done by individual movieclip creation & from scratch.

    I use WordPress, all my themes are custom coded. I think there is some confusion about the use of the word “template”… I think you are using the word interchangeably with “theme” – I take template to mean that you have bought a PSD/Flash/HTML page and then customise with your logo etc. NOT to mean the theme for your CMS that is basically a set of includes.

    I do the latter, not the former.

    #1007396
    linkartist
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    Raymond,

    Any successful web project needs a partnership between both designers & developers.

    I have never understated the role of the developer, and in many ways they are less appreciated than the designer. But it is really hard to find a developer who also understands design… just like there is a difference between $400 website deisgners & more expensive ones, there is a difference between $400 developers & higher priced ones as well.

    #1007397
    ray_223
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    linkartist, post: 6840 wrote:
    Raymond,
    just like there is a difference between $400 website deisgners & more expensive ones, there is a difference between $400 developers & higher priced ones as well.

    which is why there has been such a huge uptake of frameworks over the last 5 to 10 years. It is “able” to produce better results with less experienced people.

    I would consider using WordPress a template based solution. You can use precreated themes (if you wish) or plugin in modules for extra functionality.

    #1007398
    Heidi Price
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    Adam Randall, post: 6836 wrote:
    So a blank page?

    You dont have a favourite menu system that you drag into the project perhaps?

    You code it from scratch? so you have to write your own menu system each time you start a new project.

    You create the css or whatever you are using from scratch each time?

    Surely your web designs are not that unique that there is not a framework you can work from to speed up the process and reduce the cost?

    Actually Adam I do code from scratch EVERY TIME.

    Not becaue my designs are that unique, but as this is they way I enjoy working. I love begining with an empty page.

    And it doesn’t matter if I am working with html, xhtml, xml, php, js, or css.

    Yep, I could have a framework but I have found the work process that is most effective for me, and in the end my clients aren’t complaining :)

    Nothing wrong with “having” to write a new menu system or css each time. Better than doing the same old thing to death.

    Heidi

    #1007399
    Adam Randall
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    linkartist, post: 6838 wrote:
    Actually, I do code pretty much everything from scratch, because I use XHTML/CSS and very few of my layouts have the same requirements.

    I’d believe it, just had a look at some of your work and its real premo stuff maybe excluding the greens site which looks a bit unloved.

    I actually really like the WACOSS site, its one of the nicest government sites I have seen.

    OK there is a level that start from scratch. Thats too much work for me, and the clients I deal with while they would like that, they would not pay for it, there is no commonality between the sites you do wheras I have a set formula that has worked for me.

    #1007400
    Heidi Price
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    Adam Randall, post: 6845 wrote:
    OK there is a level that start from scratch. Thats too much work for me, and the clients I deal with while they would like that, they would not pay for it, there is no commonality between the sites you do wheras I have a set formula that has worked for me.

    Hmm… “they would not pay for it

    Maybe you do not promote the benefits?

    Heidi

    #1007401
    LeelaCosgrove
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    Okay, okay I started a war I didn’t mean to start … here’s the thing …

    IT ALL COMES DOWN TO TARGET MARKET.

    Tea, I’m not your target market. You would never take me on as a client – I would never ask you to be my supplier. What you do isn’t what I need. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a million people out there who need what you do – THEY are your target market, not me or my clients.

    As Adam says – I know what I want. What I want doesn’t cost $2500. It’s a unique wordpress template. Pure design. No backend, no support, I don’t want you to put the copy in for me.

    That’s what I need for what I do … it’s not about me not understanding design or anything like that … it’s simply that – for selling a single information product – this is what is required.

    Don’t need CMS.

    Don’t need emails set up.

    Don’t need, normally, more than one set of changes (always very minor) made.

    Set it up, whack it out, sell …

    As business owners, you guys have your own target markets. If you wanted to move into the internet marketing niche, you’d need to be able to do the above.

    But you probably don’t want to (or you’d be there already!) – so don’t …

    Art vs Commodity.

    Both and neither.

    I’m a writer. I’ve won a lot of creative writing competitions. That’s art.

    I’m a business person. I create information products for my clients. Those are commodities.

    Both are writing. Both serve different purposes.

    It’s not the medium that determines whether it’s art or not – it’s the outcome.

    I need cheap and nasty web design for landing pages for information products. Those are commodities.

    I need a fully designed website that can handle the automation of the systems behind my business (that is uploading of topics into categories, assigning to writers, trialling writers, accepting payments, editing work and reassigning it, etc). That’s art.

    I’ll pay for art.

    I won’t pay for commodities.

    #1007402
    Paul Murphy
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    ray_223, post: 6822 wrote:
    Thanks for all of the replies …


    @Paul
    :

    Yes, building/maintaining a website does take a lot of skills.

    Do you think “eventually” though that combinations (including SEO, copy, email hosting, etc) of a template based solution will give the majority of customers a suitable solution?

    Of course it depends on who your customers are… but we put a CMS in the solution for pretty much anything we do. It adds about 10 minutes to deployment, and simplifies management even if customer never log in themselves.

    To answer your question, a templated solution supported with the specific skills (SEO, copy, hosting) can meet the initial requirements of many different types of customer.

    But websites are rarely a one off affair – if they are successful (and in the right market) customers will want to expand the capabilities and functionality (let alone the constant “fresh content” that most sites need).

    This is good for everyone, and should be a goal of the engagement – hence putting a CMS in from the start, it provides the agility to respond to requirements quickly – and gives the customer the option to do their own thing.

    I have spoken with web design agencies (during partnership discovery) who have stated “we don’t like to use CMS because of the revenue we earn doing changes”. I read “trivial changes” in that sentence, as the smallest change would book an hours charge no doubt, and so earn the maximum revenue for the time taken.

    This is tantamount to holding content to ransom in my opinion.

    #1007403
    Heidi Price
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    paul, post: 6853 wrote:
    I have spoken with web design agencies (during partnership discovery) who have stated “we don’t like to use CMS because of the revenue we earn doing changes”. I read “trivial changes” in that sentence, as the smallest change would book an hours charge no doubt, and so earn the maximum revenue for the time taken.

    This is tantamount to holding content to ransom in my opinion.

    Don’t necessarily agree Paul – although I admit there are those who do this.

    It all comes back to target market, as Leea said above.

    We currently do not deploy CMS with our sites. Not because we hold clients to “ransom”, but because our target market do not have the time/skills/desire to execute changes, updates and additions.

    If it’s a simple matter of tweaking a few lines of code then there is no charge. If page needs adding or altering significantly, then it comes under their Management package – a once yearly fee, not an hourly amount.

    Who knows – in the future we may offer CMS, but right now we are kept busy enough with the way we do things now.

    Heidi

    #1007404
    Adam Randall
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    I find the best sites for user modification is straight html and get them to buy a copy of Adobe contribute.

    They can then edit the content themselves as easily as if they were editing a word document.

    #1007405
    Paul Murphy
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    Oh for sure – I did have another paragraph after that referring to customers that need the full service option, but decided I was ranting enough.

    My point was more that there are less scrupulous vendors out there who would do what they can to avoid giving the option.

    Using a CMS is our preferred option even for full service customers. It makes our lives easier, even if the customer has no use for it – particularly six months down the track when they ask for a feature that really would be far simpler to deploy if only we had a CMS in place in the first instance.

    #1007406
    linkartist
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    LOL I didnt do the Greens site – they are a client of mine for other things (print) and I am doing MP sites, that site is certainly not my design (not my style) and I think it says it there on the client list. :) The WACOSS site is actually built on a CMS that is 10 years old – the original MamboCMS. I redesigned it (read: shoehorned it) in 2007 with the new design! Lets say, I am nagging them for an upgrade :D not THAT takes skill and patience :D

    Re: CMS, I am a WordPress guru and have charged up to $4500 for a WordPress-driven blogsite. You wouldnt know it was powered by WordPress, but most of the sites are (including my own). It is merely a tool, and its use is only limited by its imagination.

    I too tend to work with a couple of CMSs and havent done a static site in 3 years. However, I do charge a minimum of an hour, even for a “5 minute” change, because it a) encourages the client to be organised and b) research has shown the to switch focus from tasks, it can take up to 45 minutes to switch back again… and I dont get enough “5 minute” changes to be worthwhile.

    I tend to also include training notes and support with my sites too. Trust me, my work is very value-laden :)

    PS Leela, I understand where you’re coming from. But if you are getting good results now, there is potential for you to get GREAT results by consulting a professional designer with some IA knowledge… I think you’d actually be surprised. Not so much for landing pages (which I don’t do anyway), but for your other projects. FYI, I would class a “big” project as $20k plus. Not a criticism, I am just suggesting that maybe your price point is unrealistic.

    I agree with you that service should NOT be determined by price, but its a side effect of overselling, or underpricing any sort of product. It’s called the Project Management Triangle: Good, Cheap, Fast: Pick Two. A fundamental principal of service delivery & project management.

    #1007407
    Adam Randall
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    Theres an interesting article here on this subject:

    http://www.alistapart.com/articles/indefenseofeyecandy

    #1007408
    Renee Barber
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    Adam Randall, post: 6883 wrote:
    Theres an interesting article here on this subject:

    http://www.alistapart.com/articles/indefenseofeyecandy

    Awesome article, Adam, although I admit I just skimmed it. ;-)

    I’ve just ‘tweeted’ about it on Twitter. I’d mention your Twitter name, but I dunno if you have one so I’ve listed your first name and website. Who knows, you might get some business leads from it.

    #1007409
    linkartist
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    A List Apart is a great resource and thanks for posting that article.

    Apple are a classic example of how good design can make all the difference. Is the iPhone the best phone? Who knows? Call quality is ordinary, you can’t do some things on it… but you know what? iPhone owners LOVE THEIR IPHONE.

    Apple make great computers with excellent design. People who value good design pay more for a product that looks better. I can certainly get a comparably performing machine that is not as good looking (OS aside), so why don’t I?

    I personally believe that the Halo Effect not only applies to beautiful people, but to beautiful things… people will perceive that a well designed, good-looking product is better than an uglier one. It’s all psychology, and rings true in my experience.

    Yes, there may be a majority market share for Windows, selling what is basically a piece of shit, with poor performance & bugs…consistently trying to copy Apple and failing… but if volume is what you value over quality, then for sure… go for it. But, to sleep at night, I actually like to know that what I am delivering is quality. It wouldnt matter if I made millions of dollars from it, if I am not satisfied with my work, it means nothing. It’s why I don’t outsource my programming to India, why I spend agonising hours getting designs just right, and why I love the process as much as the result.

    I have seen my own client’s business TRIPLE as a result of my work. Can’t exactly complain about that, its obviously working.

    To claim to be educated about business and not understand fundamental concepts like the Project Management Triangle and the Halo Effect, and other crucial aspects of what motivates people to buy… means you really don’t understand business at all.

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