Can A Website Truly Help You In 2018?
One of my associates who works in the U.K market put forward the idea that ‘traditional web design’ is Dead. This is a mature man who has been helping clients to publish their commercial websites since the mid 1990’s; he is experienced and was one of the people whose coding skills made him much in-demand from legitimate, corporate entities who wished to participate in the emerging marketplace online way back in the ‘early days’ of 1997-2005.
Yes, it is true that ten years in Web terms is like 50 years in any other sector, perhaps even more! Anyway, the intentions and goals of web development were very different in those beginning days of digital presentations. ‘Brochure’ style sites were the big fashion with 3-5 standard pages presenting the business, listing its origins in generic language and perhaps providing a magazine style catalog, a contact page and ‘About Us’ section where the CEO would supply some concise expression of corporate ‘bumf’.
The designs were produced by presenting a layout using Photoshop, and then HTML & PHP were used to actually code up the design and get it all functioning.
A similar approach can still be gained from dedicated ‘Web Design Shops’ although they tend to use a ‘full stack’ approach with HTML5, Java, Python and a whole slew of other languages. Each client begins with a blank canvas.
We now have many paths up the mountain of website production, and indeed highly professional and impressive results can be achieved without needing to ‘re-invent the wheel’ each time. We are not talking about ‘hobbyist’ clunky tools here, but extremely powerful build tools, they have streamlined the process well beyond the capabilities of those distant HTML days.
The digital world has matured over the past 20 years. Those two decades have represented a shift in thinking which are almost impossible to cogently describe – it is like a century of development condensed into two decades.
Inertia, this is a physics term which refers to the behavior of objects in motion. If an object, say a Bus, is traveling at a given rate, and then is suddenly stopped, the contents of the bus will continue traveling at the same velocity, even though the main body of the bus have halted.
The awareness of the business community concerning digital culture is like this inertia – it always takes time for the conditions of the market to become known and to influence how people respond.
This is very much the case with websites.
While the technology has certainly changed and given us more sophisticated tools, it is not simply a question of technology; this is the mistake which so many people make.
This focus on the technical advancements conceals an additional dimension, no person working in the digital space, and the web development areas can afford to ignore the cultural and social behavioral changes. And this is where Social Media, Mobile device usage, and the development of ‘Cloud’ based presentation approaches critically determine what we can achieve.
If we can regard websites, and the promotion of content, as being ‘mass media’ it is clear how we should proceed. The shifts away from 20th Century style advertising, and the move towards more ‘story based’ approaches to service the tastes and cultural reality of our audiences is shaping how web development offers services to clients.
Simple features of websites, such as collecting email details, shopping carts, blog sections correspond to very specific benefits, ensuring our websites look and function well on mobile devices simply makes excellent sense.
Creating a strong digital HQ for a client is still very much a relevant objective. 2018 is going to see some more changes, but it is still very much about ‘attention’ and being able to reach significant numbers of particular groups of people.
This has always been the job of marketing, to communicate the precise benefits of an offering, whether service or product-based, to attract and invite the interest of people.
The devil is always in the details, websites and mobile apps, content, videos, audio, in fact the entire spectrum of digital media are tools, containers for information, entertainment, significant communications.
However it is your awareness and knowledge of your people which determines how you go about presenting this specialized communication.
This is what my associate in the U.K was getting at, and also what many web developers are seeking to convey to their clients.
Technology is not the issue, this is simply the means to an end, those ‘ends’ have changed over the past 20 years; social media, content and websites are all about the same objectives, we can build relationships and direct links with people, at scale, we can participate in the ‘Attention Game’.
The world has changed, it is always changing, but those changes have become more dynamic, more crucially about the quality of communications.
Optimizing digital presence is an ongoing, and dynamic process which is directly linked with the quality, targeting and relevance of your content.
Those people who most acutely and practically understand these things will derive the benefits. The playing field has re-set, the marketplace is in flux. Can you see this?