Programmers View: Web design and clients
Shane J
Read Time:
8 Minutes
August 16, 2018

A lot is made about companies having their own websites and being extremely mobile friendly in a mobile world. I am thinking though that more needs to be made out on plan strong web design. This is being forgotten by designers and clients a like. This week in our blog we will touch on good fundamental web design from a programmer’s eyes. We plan to follow it up with a companion piece on a web designer view on websites so stay tuned!

Foundation of web design

First off, no matter what anyone says the foundation of a good website is a good design. These do not always come cheap and not everyone can do it right. Being artistic and being a designer are TWO different things. I have a background in Landscape Design and have worked on 100s of designs. Does this make me a web designer?

NO, it does not.

I am a web developer by training not a designer. Never confuse those two items. THEY ARE DIFFERENT. I work with the backend and making sure the website runs smooth. I make sure it functions as the client intends it to. I add features like video and playing podcasts off your website. I do NOT design how that looks. I can do that, but I will tell you that Lisa will come along and redesign how it looks.

Is she doing this to be mean? No, it’s because I am not a designer. Her job is to make it look pretty and presentable. Therefore, a good website is rarely ever cheap. It is a labour of love between a designer and a developer working together. The programmers that are also designers I can tell you 100% are 1 in a million and rarely cheap. This is because they know they are a rare breed.

When I worked at Mohawk College we had a designer on staff whose entire job was to make what the developers made to look presentable. All the developers were of the mind that designing the look and feel was not their job. Heck they were ecstatic that it was not one of their duties!

Functionality is key

Once a design is agreed on we move into the territory of a programmer. Who I can tell you has enough on their plate preparing for this website. Odds are they have been to countless meetings hammering out the details of the features the client wants included in this website. After that its all about preparing to create the guts behind the curtain of this website.

Websites are usually all different, just like the clients that need them. Some are super simple, and others really bust us for all we are worth. It all depends on the needs of the project. As we need to figure out what platform to host it on, what we are using to build it and whether our choices will fit their needs. We’ve done anything from straight up html 5(html, CSS and JavaScript combo) to WordPress and other solutions.

Our job is not only to build this website we also must consider the client’s ability to keep content up to date and whether they will have any access at all to the backend. Your client might do a weekly blog like this for example. They will need a prebuilt template to do this in.

I don’t know about you, but I really do not want to be fixing the website every time a client blows it up. We need to factor in the capabilities of all our clients before we hand anything off to them. I personally always try to have a backup from the day that I personally hand it over to them. You never know what’s going to happen. When the client is not very tech savvy we tend to stick with solutions that are edit text on the screen only. This way there is absolutely no way in heck they are going to take it down. Don’t kid yourself they still will find a way. We love all our clients like family so there is a bit of good natured teasing involved when incidents do happen. Believe me it will happen. I shake my head to this day on a few of them.

I can tell you that most clients DO NOT know the difference between NEEDS and WANTS. To them they are the same thing. Us designers and developers have come to just accept that we will have to lead them along the way in getting what we know is possible instead. Do not be surprised or shocked as I can tell you I still hear things 2 years later that have me scratching my head.

It is your job as a developer to tell them yes that’s possible and no that will not work as you are going to eat up enough bandwidth to bankrupt your company. THAT’S our job. No, we are not babysitting them. We are merely guiding them back from expectations otherworldly sometimes to what is in the realm of possibility. Everything has a budget and it’s your job as a developer to know the ins and out of that restraint.

A good website is by no mistakes extremely costly. It should be as it is the online representation of your business. You buy a good suit when you go to interviews and important events am I right? You’re not going to go and get the WalMart special unless you are absolutely need to. I can tell you I was brought up there was a few things you never went cheap on. One was your suit. Another was how your business was presented.

I know personally we do our best to work with client’s budgets, to adapt and help in any way we can but like them we are a business. We hope one day to be able to take on projects of our choosing, so we can be adventurous and do bold things we normally could not.

This is what I feel would be the perfect place to stop. Functionality is a must. It must cover the clients needs more than wants and it is our job to get them there. In a few weeks we will flip the script and start looking at this from a designer’s eyes.

Till next time…