Not everyone who uses a computer can design

Posted on July 21, 2015

 

One of the (many) things that irritate me about the industry in which I work is the number of people who claim to do a particular service because they believe they can. This is compounded by the number of people happy to pay (albeit low prices) for said service because they don’t know the difference.

Over the years, this particular gripe has evolved from web design to SEO. Now, what grinds my gears is the subject of graphic design – a skill I have never claimed to have.

You see, web design, web development, SEO and graphic design are all very different disciplines – yet there are many people who work within the digital arena who profess to be experts in all of them. I started within this industry way back in 2000, when I was the web designer for GAME. That’s a web design role, designing websites. Within that role I worked on user experience, conversion optimisation and online marketing.

Over time, I worked for different design agencies and marketing companies, and have encountered numerous IT and graphic design people who all claim to be able to design websites – despite many of them not even understanding the concept of different screen sizes, never mind different browsers or platforms. As a result, I can pretty much identify now when a website was designed by a print designer or an IT professional.

Print designers’ websites tend to be very static, designed for one particular screen size (theirs) and are in the centre of the screen. They are not responsive (obviously) and they’re very restrictive on content because they’ve been designed to house a finite amount of text.

IT professionals’ websites are almost the exact opposite. They’re often very text heavy, lacking in graphics and are very rigid in look and feel. They’ll feature columns on the left, on the right or both, and they’ll often be built using HTML Tables – something that was never intended for web design in the first place.

This ‘I can have a go at that’ attitude extends beyond web design of course, and goes into fields such as online marketing as well – where this time it tends to be web designers and IT professionals who offer their ‘SEO skills’ because their clients often ask for it. Whether or not they know the first thing about online marketing is neither here nor there. I have written at great length in the past about how people offer SEO when they really have no idea how to do it, so I won’t turn this post into a similar rant – much as I’d like to. No, the impetus for this post was something that I experienced recently regarding a graphic designer, and a very, very good graphic designer at that.

At Engage Web, we often get asked about designing logos as, after all, design is design right? Wrong! When we’re asked about this, we will always refer our clients on to a graphic designer to do this as it’s not where our expertise lies. Even though I was the web designer for GAME, I wouldn’t ever pretend to be a graphic designer and I wouldn’t attempt to design a logo for a client.

This particular graphic designer went through a thorough process with the client, looking at the meaning of his company, what he wanted to achieve, and what his ideologies were. After this, he looked at his competitors and where he was going to fit within the marketplace. He went through a number of treatments, each having their own meaning and story, before the client and graphic designer both decided on a route forward, which led to a superb logo that perfectly reflects his company.

Now Engage Web can get involved with the web design. This is how it should be.

However, some time ago we had a similar experience with a client who wanted a logo and, instead of using a professional graphic designer, they wanted to use someone a bit cheaper. They approached the usual ‘IT guy’ who offered to do it for them, and he presented them with what can only be described as a sheet of logos from a book… clip art, if you will. They picked the one they liked (or rather the one their committee liked) and that was that.

How does this logo reflect their brand? What’s the story behind it? How does it show their ethos?

It was out of a book.

The long and the short of this rather angry post is this: Choose the right person for the right job. Don’t assume everyone who uses a computer can do everything that is done with a computer. Yes, you can get logos and websites done for a few quid, but that doesn’t mean you should.

Ask yourself, what is your business worth?

Darren Jamieson

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 15 years’ experience in these fields.

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