In large-scale projects, the most creative part of the work is not the graphics, it’s the architecture.
While there is cognitive recognition of this by most of the clients we work with, this is not a concept that is quickly internalized. In the early phases of many projects, we find that even the most sophisticated and educated of clients find themselves distracted by the lure of pretty graphics way too early in the process. When bidding on projects this is particularly true. A heavy emphasis is placed on visual design and the critical issues of function, how the site is built, special software requirements, and where and how the site will be hosted often take a back seat.
The most creative aspects of site design are often unable to be seen in the browser.
Creative design is subjective. Whether a site can handle a traffic spike created by a link from a highly influential website, like The Drudge Report is not. The design of the hosting services, the architecture of the content management system, and the way different pieces of software work together to insure that a site stays up and working can and should be as as creative as the visual design.
One of the mistakes we see a lot of clients make is basing the decision about what company should build their site on the look of the visuals in a portfolio. If impressive visual design is not backed up by equally impressive programming skills and system knowledge, your project may look good and not function in a way that supports your business objectives.
Design plays an important role in whether a site will be used properly by those who visit it, this is a fact. Great visual design makes a site simple to navigate and leads the visitor to the pages you want them to spend time on. But it is just one of the factors you should be considering when choosing your site developer.
Here are some other factors you should consider.
- When your developer describes your project, are they leading the technology brainstorming or merely reacting to features that you have requested?
- Are they using a home baked platform to build your website? If so, this may lock you in to working with that developer to make what would be minor changes with someone else.
- What open source platforms is your developer familiar with?
- How involved is your developer in the open source community?
- What kinds of “pet” projects is your developer working on?
- Is your developer showing you multiple possibilities to help achieve your goals?
- Is your developer sought out for their opinions?
- What associations is your developer actively taking part in?
- What conferences do they attend?
Feel free to add to our list in your comments.