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Trench Webfare

Careful! This post is looking a little old and could be inaccurate in many, many ways

Today I was skimming through the A List Apart article entitled “What I Learned About the Web in 2011” and it got me thinking about whether or not the forerunners in our industry are fighting the same war as the rest of us?

Now to liken the process of designing or developing a website as a war is extreme, most certainly our clients can’t be compared to such great historical adversaries such as the Roman’s, the Nazi’s or the Sith. But in educating clients about the benefits of different areas of web design, many of our war cries fall on deaf ears. Instead of concentrating on whether or not their website is engaging through language, function and design they would rather push the need to brighten up their content with an inordinate amount of coloured text.

Site’s like WeeNudge help us in communicating effectively the reasons as to why a client’s request is not in the best interest of the website or its users, but if a client wants ‘every other word green’ then what other response do we have than ‘it’ll look shit’?

It’s getting client’s to forget about the details or at least validate their requests which has become the daily battle for many a designer. Saying that we need to educate clients is of course correct but some are simply unwilling to learn what it means to have a professional web agency design and develop their website. It’s not like we can be direct and say ‘You need to learn about what it is to create a website’ without coming across as somewhat patronising.

Two-tier community

So back to the ALA article where so many great webbies have spoken about the great developments they’ve learnt and adopted over the past year such as HTML5, responsive design and designing for emotion. Within the article Tim Van Damme comments that he’s observed a greater understanding of the power of good design within large corporations. This may be true of large corporations but for those dealing with smaller, more local, companies this is far from reality.

2011 has come with a number of great advancements in how we think about making websites and also in the technologies at our disposal but for me these are all things that I adopt silently into my workflow. These are not things I could begin to inform clients about when such basic things as separating personal taste from what qualifies as good design is still such an issue.

Of course the approach a client takes in regards to the process is in part down to me as a designer, I should educate a client in best practices but saying it and achieving this are two very different things. It’s becomes even more difficult when a client’s view is that a designer is little more than a pixel pusher. Trust me when I say pushing too hard against these types of clients only results in being called rude and being told it is my role to simply implement the wishes of the client.

Even though I’m sure the designers and developers within the ALA article do have their fair share of difficult clients they seem to be enjoying an easier relationship with their clients. Their prominence possibly affording them more understanding and educated clients. Their exposure to the same types of clients as the community at large deal with is diminished and so questions arise like ‘does their view of the community at large become skewed’? ‘Are these people viewing a world in which there is a greater understand of our profession whilst many struggle to jump over the most basic of hurdles’? To further the analogy have these people become the General’s delivering orders from a safe distance while the rest of us are still losing small skirmishes out in the trenches?

A little help from our friends

I don’t want this is be seen as discrediting the work or information that these people produce, nor does their position entitle others to do the same. My worry is that while the knowledge they impart is invaluable, the community at large is falling behind. Instead designers are still dealing with issues that we should be working hard to resolve so that the community at large can follow in the footsteps of our web pioneers and see the same bright future they lay out before us in the A List Apart article.