Web design and development is not new, but it’s young. It’s a fascinating sector simply because it’s become a vital asset to a business, and yet nobody really knows what going on. You don’t have to know much about engines or mechanics in order to understand the difference between a Fiat 500 and a Hummer. However, when talking about web sites, to begin with, nobody wants to hear about programming, then you throw gas on the flame by trying to explain to the client how the website will perform differently on every computer, tablet and phone and sometimes even each browser. Today, there’s more than enough work for everybody in web development because in reality, web sites come in all shapes and sizes. There are developers who for instance just focus on landing pages, and agencies who perhaps focus on global size e-commerce. I, am right there in the middle.
My history with web design started in the most unexpected of ways. At 22, I decided to go solo with music and used the name 17Kings. At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about web design, but do bear in mind that my dad was a programmer, so programming wasn’t exactly foreign to me, at least, the idea that you had to write code that would tell a program to do something wasn’t. One of my best friends and flat mate at the time made me a website for 17Kings. Being a graphic designer, he even created the logo which I still use today. What a great gift! As years went by, I needed to update the site and while living in Dublin, found a friend of a friend who could do it, but this time it was going to cost me. I had a growing catalog of material and realized that updating the site was going to be costly. Still I didn’t really give that much importance to the site because I had other things to deal with in life, like life itself. At that same time, MySpace was the big thing and being me, I was always unsatisfied with the way my profile looked. I’d change Monday, and wake up on Tuesday already tired of it. It’s important to remember the brilliance of MySpace due to the fact that you could actually customize the look of your profile and contact section. So, the first time I ever used html, was actually in my MySpace bio in order to customize the page. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but it worked. Moving on, I found myself living in Stockholm during the economic crisis of 2008. With not much work to be found, and enough time on my hands to learn something new and useful, a Swedish friend who worked in web design introduced me to Adobe Dreamweaver and explained that I should try learning about html so I could manage the 17Kings site on my own. Throughout that cold and dark Swedish winter (which I love), I studied html and Flash. At one point, I took a month off from doing any work, and basically slept 4 hours, then studied for 8, then slept for 4 and studied another 8. Sure, after that month, I learned almost everything I know about html…but I also learned a lot about my own sanity. But hey, I’m all in or nothing, that’s just me. Around 2010, back in Milan, the growth of iPhones relentlessly pushed Flash off the ledge, HTML5 and CSS3 were in, and thus I had to evolve because not only was I working on my own site, but a few friends were asking me to do theirs as well. A few years later, a good friend with whom I’d gone to audio school introduced me to WordPress…and that was it. Sure, I enjoyed the web development process, but because I was so used to doing it the long way, WordPress practically cut my delivery time in half and I found myself doing sites for not only friends, but friends of friends without any real sweat. I kept studying, and at some point, and I can’t remember when, I started charging people and it became a great job!
If you have any experience in opening a company of any sort, you know that one person can’t do it all. You have people who are good at management, those who excel in administration, those who are brilliant salesmen and so on. You have to learn to delegate and not micromanage. Though the ABC’s of sales can be applied to a website, in the digital world things like UX & UI start to show their significance more and more. You can get away with a few confusing aisles in a shop because you’re the only shop in town, or perhaps the customer will have to walk a mile before he/she finds another shop that sells what they need. However, in the interactive world of e-commerce, all the customer has to do is click, and you’ve lost them. They are only a click away from buying, and you are only a click away from losing them. A good web designer understands this more than anyone and keeps that in mind at all times. A good web designer should be knowledgeable in behaviorism/psychology, marketing, advertising, sales, customer service and also have the technical skills to implement strategies over an interactive medium. In a big company, the web designer often doesn’t even exist. Web designer, today, is what you call someone who commonly works as a freelancer and is the combination of many departments. It’s important to understand this concept, because this is the real difference between a web designer who knows what their doing and one who doesn’t.
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