Too few people realize that a mix of three very different skills is essential. Understanding these three skills and ensuring that the correct mix is provided at the right time for each individual website is often overlooked. The mix of skills required changes over the lifetime of the website. Owners who acknowledge and plan for this changing mix of skills will help ensure that the desired results are actually achieved.
Web Designer/Developer Skills
One set of skills can be described as web developer skills. A competent web designer has computing skills (such as programming and testing) and provides advice on how difficult or easy it will be to produce the different elements of the website. The web designer also produces the pages (for example: coding the html, laying out the design) and ensures standards are met. An inappropriate level of skill(s) can lead to websites that cannot be maintained easily – so owners find it difficult to change the site as frequently as they wish, or that the costs of change are too high. This can happen whether too much or too little emphasis is placed on the technical aspects.
Design skills are also essential. The designer defines the look and feel of a site, selecting and producing the graphics (pictures, illustrations, logos, etc.) as well as specifying the colors and text styles to be used. Design skills include defining the structure and layout of a website and, most importantly, considering the website visitors and how they will interact with the site. Inadequate or dated design will adversely affect visitors’ impressions of the site. Visitors’ expectations of websites change over time (for example, audio and video are now common and would be expected for certain types of website). A good designer will ensure the website meets visitor expectations.
Marketing skills are vital. One of the functions of marketing is to define the marketing strategy, by answering questions such as:
- Who are your targeted customers?
- What does your customers want to see from your website?
- How will they find the information?
Once the strategy is defined, marketing also includes working out the more detailed plans and actions to be taken, as well as tracking the success of actions and amending plans as necessary. Good marketing drives visitors to websites. Poor marketing affects many aspects of a website, such as search engine ranking and how long visitors stay on a website. Marketing should be incorporated into a website from the initial stages and throughout its lifetime.