Last year I went to an event in Perth, presented by the guys from Port 80 called Ideas 3. Although it was some time ago, I felt on reflection, that it was well worth sharing the knowledge and insight I gained with you all.
The event was pretty well attended for a) a fairly new and small Perth group and b) a small focused marketing exercise. It was, however, dominated by ‘techo’ web developers and basically ‘zero’ web based graphic designers. In fact, I was the ONLY representation for graphic design in the room.
John Allsopp was the first speaker and for me, lacked the ability to connect between the marketing nuances necessary for the future of web designing and the technicals that will allow for better design into the future. From a technical perspective, he was faultless and his knowledge of the web both past, present and future was incredible, but even talking to him afterwards, I couldn’t find that vital link between the technology and the end user.
You see, the majority of consumers don’t think like nerds. They don’t understand what they are looking at. It’s just a screen and colours and words and stuff. They don’t know anything about sIFR or xml or RSS. All that is, is mumbo jumbo.
Here at Jack in the box, website design is a mix of disciplines
|Technology – This deals with the hardcore side of website design. Code, scripts, formatting etc etc. It’s the necessary evil for most designers and not understood by marketers, however loved by the techos. It plays an important part because it dictates the delivery of the design and allows the marketing to be executed correctly.|
|Design – Sounds easy but a good design is not only visually appealing but also must fit the marketing brief, thus reaching the target audience with the right visual mix of colours, images and text. A good designer understands both the marketing aspect of consumer behaviours on the web as well as the technical limitations of the Content Management System (CMS).|
|Marketing – The execution of marketing driven creative (designs that not only look good but actually work) is another important aspect of any product you produce. Websites are no different. Your hierarchy should always be built with the client in mind and nobody understands that better than a marketer.|
|Function – By this I mean by way of how the functionality of the whole site works. The site needs to have a well thought out hierarchy as well as being executed well. The site needs to be easy to navigate for the potential target market – not just the designer. Designers and Techos often forget that REAL people have to use the sites they create – end users simply don’t have the understanding or insight into the design or technology that they have.|
I see this downfall all the time, especially when watching older people using the net.
The second speaker was Mark Boulton. Although his speech was on typography and was extremely interesting, it was the chat that I had afterwards that really inspired me. In fact Mark is the reason I started blogging! Mark understood what I was talking about and, like me, couldn’t understand why more people weren’t seeing things from our perspective.
Ultimately the winners are …. well, everyone really. The customer gets a better job and a site that really works rather than just one that looks good. Users are engaged and find the site comfortable to use and easy to flow through. Designers don’t have to actually hard code sites and Techos get the boundaries pushed of their systems to find new and innovative ways, while maintaining the standards, of making new ideas work. Nobody loses!
Check out some of our gallery examples to get a further idea how the team here at Jack in the box put the philosophy into action.