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Your Website Is Alive

Your Website Is Alive
[lead]Digital design is just fun, it really is. I started my career in entirely print design and gradually introduced more and more digital work until I became the hopelessly UI/UX obsessed web geek I am today.[/lead]

I actually remember being scared the first time I took on a website a year out of college, and I told my creative director I might be better off sticking to print. He smiled like the seasoned web junkie he is and said “Just try it, I know you well. I can almost guarantee you’ll get addicted.” Obviously he was right. As always.

There are many pros and cons to both digital and print design, and I love it all. However, the theme of this post, and 90% of my job, is digital.

One of the greatest things about working on digital projects rather than print is that they are indeed alive! This is in many ways fantastic news, and in other ways a cautionary statement. I will focus on two major differences I have noticed from this fact.

1. Your website is alive. Pro: You can fix errors, update copy and photos, and finesse the site after launch.

By the time a website is ready to launch, there have likely been months of discussion on the site goals, wireframes, SEO, UI/UX, look and feel, animation, and so on. At this point we are in the home stretch, with rounds upon rounds of quality assurance before that website/mobile app/web portal goes live. Our dev team is especially vigilant about that process (we call it a healthy channel for our OCD level perfectionism). However, that launch date is just the beginning for your website’s new life. Gone are the days of me and one project coordinator looking over a print file one last time at 2 am, just to make sure we don’t send 4 million plastic cups to print with a spelling error… we never did by the way.

A month after digital launch we are gathering analytics, likely finessing transitions, and helping you find new ways to market the site, or reach your audience through social media. You can change your mind about a color or the cover photo. You can punch up your bio or decide to rewrite the About Us page. Even more good news: Before launch you received training in WordPress from one of our seasoned developers, so you are a certified expert in entering this new info yourself! This is a far cry from the month after a print campaign, when that paper is being used for children’s paper mache projects or at the bottom of the recycling bin.

2. Your website is alive. Caution: You can’t take shortcuts, neglect wireframing, or think that digital problems will go away.

Digital work is a nightmare for people who don’t think all the way through a problem. Some creative thinkers are accused of being daydreamy artists who only see the fuzzy big picture. Perhaps this is true of some, but I have never worked with a successful designer/developer who didn’t sweat the details, make decisions for a good reason, and try to empathize with the end user. That is what it takes to make something that look great and work beautifully. However, this is a process that takes time and not every agency fulfills (hint, often you get what you pay for with templated or dirt cheap digital design).

A lazy or disorganized print campaign can be a disaster, not meet client expectations, and haunt you on the subway for a month, but bad digital work sticks around for years. Like Dr. Frankenstein, the agency responsible is the author and victim of the monster it has created, and that bad website and justifiably angry client will be causing headaches for years to come. Taking shortcuts or making bad decisions can happen anywhere in the process, but it often occurs at the very beginning (not setting correct expectations, working toward unclear goals, lack of communication) or the very end (a huge time crunch causes team members to drop the ball, a client makes many last minute changes, a boss pressures the team to “just get it out the door,” etc.)

For me, digital communication is one of the most exciting fields to work in, with ever-changing tools, knowledge, and challenges. The team at Walk West is here to dispel the fear and make a product that you love to work with, and that meets new demands beautifully.

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