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What my grandmother knows about web design that most studios do not

Wed, 04/09/2013 - 07:46

How getting the “boring” right leads to spectacular results every time

My grandmother is a great cook. With a pinch of salt, a scoop of sugar, and a dash of cinnamon, she creates the most amazing pastries. When I go pinching and scooping and dashing, my Orange River mud pie tastes like… mud. Over the years gran perfected her pinches and scoops and dashes, and today they are the same every time, and the results are always the same - spectacular! But she did not start out like that.

When you bake, you need to get everything right, every time.

Directionless exploration is often mistaken for creativity. The hope of stumbling upon something great, always there, never fullfilled.

Truly creative geniuses show an obsessive adherence to process. Hours of note-taking, directed practice, and scientific experimentation results in magical leaps of inspiration that onlookers find hard to explain.

Too often the hard work needed to prepare for greatness is neglected. Too often mediocre, quick work wins. Too often the boring is ignored, and it shows.

The craftsman plans first, the novice jumps in and sees where the work takes him. The craftsman follows a repeatable process, the novice hopes for inspiration. The craftsman knows what can be done, the novice believe everything is possible and easy. The craftsman exceeds expectation, the novice rarely delivers.

To produce predictably spectacular results you need to follow these boring steps:

  1. Evaluate what you have to work with
  2. Decide where you want to be (and how you will know when you get there)
  3. Plan each step you need to take to go from where you are to where you want to be
  4. Constantly check your progress and make the needed corrections
  5. Evaluate what you have to work with

You have constraints in your business in terms of time and money available. The country you operate in has constraints in terms of bandwidth and connection speed. Even the internet itself is limited in terms of the amount of space available, the number of people who are interested in what you have to offer, and the space on the first page of a Google search result. Having a clear understanding of these constraints will ensure an accurate plan to reach your goals.

Decide where you want to be (and how you will know when you get there)

When you look back 12 months from now, how will you know that you made the right decision? What do you want the site to do for you? How will you measure the performance of your site? These questions will help you define the main goal of your site, and a set of metric for deciding how successful your site is. Remember what you measure will be improved , so make sure your measures support your goal.

People get mixed up when a project is kicked off. Suddenly there are pages to be set, button colours to choose, and layouts to critique. At the end of the day, the question that must be answered for each of these is, “does the decision I’m making take me closer to my goal or further from it”. If your extra pop on the logo does not lead to better achievement of your site goal, don’t do it.

Plan each step you need to take to go from where you are to where you want to be

Irrespective of the size of the project, it needs to be deconstructed into its component steps. Each step has to have a deadline that’s set in stone and it has to be noted if it is missed. At each deadline, a measurable product must be produced.

Constantly check your progress and make the needed corrections

At the end of each step, you need to take a step back, and look at what you have produced.

First: Does this match the expectation in terms of the measurable results set in the plan? If it does not, go back and fix the product. Do not progress past this step until it does.

Then ask: Does the product move you closer to your goal or further away from it? Will this product aid or hinder your main business goal? If the product does not move you towards the main site goal, go back and rework the plan.

Consistently following this process will lead to spectacular results every time, if you planned for them.

What about creativity and inspiration?

"I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at nine o'clock every morning." - William Faulkner

When you have a goal that falls within your circle of competence, and you work towards that goal, inspiration will find you. Your studio should understand this, and be ready and able to show you their process for creating magic. Find a studio that will give you a clear roadmap, a studio with the experience to know what it takes to make your site successful, a studio like 2Stroke Interactive.