Web design is a branch of graphic design dealing with the planning, development, and maintenance of websites; it deals with their layout on the Internet, but always thinking of one client in particular. This is important, as design consists in creating a graphic object according to what each client needs, so it is not mechanical, repetitive work. Now, you might think that making a Web page requires no special knowledge, just hiring a designer or design agency. Well, this is absolutely wrong. You cannot just leave it all to the designer. Design, perhaps more than any other activity, requires the client’s active participation. Therefore, clients and designers should always work hand in hand.
And why is this so? Because, as we have mentioned above, design is not repetitive work. Although rules are always the same, each project is unique. So a good job consists both in the designer’s being aware of the client’s requirements, and, of course, in his following the rules of Web design.
But, what does it mean to be an “active” participant? Well, it certainly does not mean that you will have to relegate your other duties to a second place. However, you will have to provide the designer with clever ideas for the website, propose things, accept or reject what he suggests, make choices, etc. So, although you will not need to give him directions all the time (he knows how to do his work), you will definitely have to be at his disposal and strike up a good, fluent, cooperative relationship with him.
To make it as clear as possible what Web design is, we will now speak of its very essence, i.e. the website. We will show you three main characteristics that are present in any Web page, for you to be able to decide which of them is your top priority. This is our goal here, for you to understand what is more important according to what you want.
Virtual office: after industrialization and the coming of globalization, the formerly existing bonds between companies and communities were broken. Factories and firms used to be the economic center of any community, and the people in those communities recognized their corporate buildings, which were a sort of “reference point”. Nowadays, this is no longer true. This is mostly because, multinationals and big corporations housing so many different brands, buildings are no longer a reference point. Hence companies have become abstract concepts or entities, and as such, they cannot exist unless someone “think” of them. The solution to this problem is the website, as it is that something “material” through which people can think of a particular company. So the website is the new point of reference, the “virtual office” where people can get in touch with a firm, buy its products, ask questions, etc.
Interaction: this is “the” distinguishing characteristic of websites. Every design is intended to transmit a message from a company to the public. The website, on the other hand, allows interaction in addition to this.
User-company interaction: this happens when the user is so impressed by some Web design that decides to e-mail the owner company –it does not matter if he asks about something, or makes a suggestion, etc. The company, in time, can e-mail back this user, thus starting a relationship, a dialogue. companies can benefit from this interaction in two different ways: first, winning the public’s trust; and secondly, obtaining very useful information (their tastes, goals, comments, doubts, etc) which might be of great help for a future marketing campaign.
User-website interaction: this happens when the user is going over a website for certain information. In this way, the information he gets is only that he is interested in (unlike, for instance, when he is handed out a flyer). Therefore, as there is no “imposition”, this user, either a real or a potential client, will feel good and remember this information.
Presence in the market: everybody uses the Internet these days. It is a fact: if someone tries to obtain information about a company, or its products and services, he looks it up on the Internet. Consequently, all “target groups” –including yours– are to be found on the Web. Thus, good positioning on the Internet ensures you, to a great extent, success in the market. But good Web positioning takes more than a good website; people should know and visit this website, too. To this end, it needs to be well-positioned on search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, or MSN, as search engines are responsible for approximately 85% of the visits a Web page receives. What you have to do, then, is hire a SEO (Search Engine Optimizer). Through different linking campaigns, among other things, the SEO will take charge of optimizing your website –so that it is better positioned on the search engines. These campaigns, however, can take time, and are not always a resounding success. Nevertheless, it is always advisable to at least try, since, to a greater or lesser extent, the result will be satisfactory.
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