The Importance of Web Design
Corporate web design is a young industry by just about any comparison. It hasn’t even been 20 years since most businesses ventured into this now indispensable marketplace, and even less since a new generation of social media, professional and mobile networks has transformed the process. Like most fledgling fields, web design faced an uncertain and unregulated adolescence. Before the dot com bubble rose in the late 1990s, most web “professionals” were skilled enthusiasts— and many of them under 20 years old. For college students taking “web design” classes in 1999, there were no official textbooks on the subject, and not too many qualified instructors, either. How could schools ask for 5+ years experience in a field that wasn’t even really that old yet?
Now, it would be inconceivable for the average business to ignore the web. Annual budgets are required to consider the costs of an Internet presence, and like the industry itself, these costs have evolved a long way from the pocket money you might have slipped a nephew to design your company’s “web page.” Once likened to an archaic form of digital voodoo magic, web design is now regarded as a bona-fide professional industry. Most companies recognize that returns require investment, and investments require research. Consequently, clients are more informed than ever. Many of them understand both the potential, and challenges, of building a profitable online presence. Some even speak the lingo, and more often than not, our clients come prepared with detailed requests, requirements and recommendations.
Still, investing the time and expense is daunting for any business. Even for the educated client, it’s a learning-curve process with a fair amount of specific (and unfamiliar) consideration. And with so much of a modern company’s success riding on their site, the stakes are higher than ever. Because of this, there is one advancement in the field of web design that is of particular significance; it’s something that, in my opinion, almost independently defines the “professionalizing” of this young industry and separates it from those by-gone days of nephews and $99 packages: the Project Manager. It’s a position that has long existed in traditional branches of design, but was largely absent from the web’s basement and back-room beginnings. As projects grew in size and scope, it became increasingly necessary to manage all the facets of production to ensure efficient, timely progress. At Bayshore Solutions, our Project Managers are invaluable buffers (and sometimes, translators) between our designers, developers and clients. They gather content, enforce timelines, explain options, offer recommendations, answer questions, control quality and oversee delivery. But even more importantly, they distill a leap of great importance and intimidation into a streamlined process of confidence-building and encouragement. They offer the kind of proverbial white-glove service that clients are justified in expecting from such a substantial, and scary investment.
It’s always exciting to be part of a brand new industry, especially one whose effect is so widely felt by the modern world. Peering ahead, it’s easy to imagine the field of web design branching off into entirely specialized service categories. There are signs of it already. Regardless, you can be sure that each of them will require the same multi-skilled project managers that have already transformed the industry once.