The Art of Lazy Web Design!

The Art of Lazy Web Design!
  • 17
    Jul

The Art of Lazy Web Design!

Websites do not appear from thin air!

Usually, an event in the week prompts us to write a blog. The event this week was getting another email from another potential client which included the following line:

“I am so frustrated that I have wasted so much money with a developer and now I can’t get hold of him. There is tons of bugs we need to fix, and nobody wants to touch our website. Can you help?”.

This is not unique, as we get many variations of emails and calls for help like this, and most of the time we turn them down! Don’t get us wrong, we are keen on getting new business and making money, but we know when we should back off because we know the pain that comes with taking over a lazy design job!

Web design is supposed to be fusion of the customer’s needs with creative and technical solutions. The problem is most customers do not want to invest time to define their needs, because it is too time consuming and not very exciting! The web developers try to second guess the needs, and most of the time they miss it by a mile! Everyone gets disappointed, frustrated, and nothing really gets done.

The root cause of these problems is not a single issue but the unholy alliance of multiple factors namely:

Lack of Brief

Referral Website

To short cut this process, many clients take the easy route and tell the developer to check out a website that they like and “Make a website like XYS”.

Not withstanding Copyright issues, this is all very well when discussing aesthetic design, but this is of no use when it comes to functionality.

Most back office functionality of a website are hidden, and only become apparent once you subscribe to the service or make a purchase. Even then, you are unlikely to see all eventualities and “What if” scenarios.

The favourite of referral websites are AirBnB and Amazon (we probably get one request a week for these). We all use Amazon and some of us use AirBnB, but can you honestly say you know exactly how the reverse logistics in Amazon works? Or how the system handles cancellation on AirBnB? How about the way Payment process, user verification, calendar synchronisation with Channel Managers, etc. works on AirBnB?

Usually when we see this we tend to run a mile in the opposite direction!

Cost Cutting

Customers want to save money, which is understandable. Who doesn’t want to save money?

However, there is a cost involved in finding out the functionality of a referral website. This is called time, which any reputable and experienced developers will not give you for free. Experienced developers know all the pitfalls of “Referral Website” process. They know there are hidden “Poisoned Pills” somewhere along the process, and sooner or later they will have to take it!

Generally experienced developers will walk away from any project that is not well defined. This means the customer ends up with inexperienced chancers, which is a high risk strategy. Sometimes these risks pay-off and the customer gets a great website, but more often than not, the project comes to a grinding halt.

The Solution

Documentation

There are 2 documentation processes that are critical in development of any website or software project.

  1. Requirements Capture – This document specifies the requirements of the customer in precise and comprehensive manner including all the “What if” scenarios as well as any branding guidelines, design guidelines, functionality, process, etc.
  2. Code Documentation – This comes at the end of the project where the developers document how the functionality and design defined in the Requirements Capture document is being delivered. This includes all the codes, JavaScript, Ajax Calls, etc. in precise detail.

Both these processes cost time and money, so don’t expect them to be included in the cheapest bid. Also be warned, when it comes to updates, troubleshooting, bug fixing, etc., nobody can help you if you cannot provide these documents. Engineers will be looking for a needle in a haystack and that is not a cheap request!

Summary

Sorry, there is no lazy way!! Any website or software development project needs the following clearly defined:

  • The Outcome – What it is you are trying to achieve and what is the purpose of your website? Not all websites are selling things, and not all are e-commerce. However, one thing is for sure, there is no such thing as a “Standard Website”. There is no cookie-cutter for websites, and you will only find that out once you have a cookie-cutter website made for you!
  • The Journey – Be very clear about what you need your visitors to experience. From the moment they arrive to the moment they leave, what steps do you want them to take.
  • The Process – Define the processes you need for order taking, payment, shipment, notifications, tracking, reverse logistics, post-purchase, and help/intervention.
  • Document, Document, Document – Developers are quite smart, but they are not mind readers! Unless you document precisely what you want, don’t expect it to just happen magically. However, once the project is complete, make sure they document their work.

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