Als je iemand bent die graag metaforen gebruikt om complexe ideeën te begrijpen, zou je het ontwikkelen van een website kunnen zien als een estafette. Een groep professionals, elk gespecialiseerd in hun eigen vakgebied, werkt opeenvolgend aan een product - alsof er steeds een stokje wordt overgedragen.
Developing a website, however, is not a relay race. In fact, viewing website development as a relay race is a way websites can fail.
Let me explain.
Your responsibility as a designer
In a relay race, as a runner, you are responsible for your part of the race and nothing else. You get the baton, run as hard as possible, hand it off, and you're done. You can encourage the rest of your team or go to the canteen; it doesn't matter much.
While developing a website, you are also responsible for your part, but I prefer to see a shared responsibility. As designers, we are most important during the design phase, but at the end of the day, the whole team is responsible for the delivery of the website. Blaming others when the website fails does not work. Although you may not know how to program the backend, you work with the backend developer to create a final product. If the backend developer fails, you fail too.
This is called 'extreme ownership' by Jocko Willink, a former Marine.
It means you can't simply pass the responsibility off to others in teamwork. If one person fails, the whole team fails.
Why am I saying this in a blog about website building? Because website failure can also revolve around things that are not entirely your responsibility, but I want to argue that you can also contribute to a successful project outside your area of expertise.
You do this because under each project, figuratively speaking, your signature is there. A website that you beautifully designed but did not achieve its goals is a failed project. The big question is: what could you have done? Every website you are proud of is an addition to your digital design portfolio.
Five reasons why websites fail
Okay, so you are responsible for the success of every website delivered, along with the rest of the team. But what can you, as a 'simple' web designer, do to ensure that the whole process goes smoothly and a working final product goes live?
Below are five reasons why many websites fail, including some ideas to help you improve them—even if you don’t perform the work yourself.
We start with an easy one: as a web designer, you are ultimately responsible for the design of a website. But that one time when you don't feel great and deliver a website that is not so beautiful to say the least, what can you do yourself? If you could have done something about it, you would have done it.
You may have a 'designer's block' once and deliver something that is subpar for you. In that case, it's time for a little 'extreme ownership': recognize that you need help.
Just as you can help your team, they can also support you in the process. Especially when you work with the same people for a long time, they will be better able to give you good feedback and ideas.
You can improve poor design as a web designer by realizing that you cannot always do everything alone. Ask for help and accept it when it is offered.
If you work on a large team, there are likely UX and UI designers responsible for the functionality of a website. You add the final layer, while they build the foundations on which you work.
In this collaboration, you don't have to accept everything, but you can act according to your own principles. Sometimes a UX designer comes to you with the idea of 'hiding' the search bar at the bottom of the website—a nice gimmick.
Just say: I'm not designing that.
As a web designer, you can also have principles. One of those principles is to never be responsible for designing an unusable website because why would you do that? Stand your ground. There is a reason why all websites have the search feature in the same place: it works.
To ensure that a website works well, you can do more than just follow best practices (such as placing the navigation at the top). Research your creations with user tests, both during website development and afterwards with A/B tests.
A difficult user experience
The biggest pitfall for websites is a poor user experience. Why should users spend time on your website when they can get a better experience elsewhere? Again, here you work with UX and UI designers, but the solution is less obvious than in the previous point. How do you know where the problem with the user experience lies?
Well, as a web designer, you also use a lot of websites—you are an expert.
The purpose of this article is not to take on all the work of others. You will never hear me say that because I am a strong advocate for a healthy balance between work and personal life.
At the same time, I want to be proud of the projects I deliver, and that's why I will always work to deliver the best products. If a website doesn't work, put yourself in the shoes of your user (you should always do this): what challenges do you encounter? Because the end user is always at the center, and you can also position yourself as an end user, you can make valuable contributions to the development of the best user experience.
As a designer, you can also follow the guidelines for great web design to ensure that your design always contributes to the development of clear, usable websites.
You can find the guidelines that help you design great websites time and time again here.
Non-Mobile friendly website
This item is included but doesn't need any explanation, right? Websites that are not usable on mobile devices are - quite honestly - no longer websites. It's essential to do what it takes to ensure every project budget has the capacity to make a website responsive.
I don't need to say more about this item.
Long load times
Are you ready to fight with your backend developer? Force them to make every website faster. They will say it's due to the size of your images, but you have some ideas how they can do their work better.
Whatever needs to be done: slow load times break your website. People don't want to wait and Google gives slow websites a lower score. You've already lost your users before they even get to your website screen.
Optimize every image yourself and ensure that you have the ability to add them at different resolutions, so they can be downloaded in an optimized way. It would be a shame if your user leaves before any of your design is visible on the screen - all that hard work for nothing.
And then this...
'Extreme ownership' is exhausting. Success is never easy. However, with your name on every project you deliver, you might as well ensure that the websites you design work - put the user at the center and work from there for the best experiences.
When you are proud of every website because they all work as intended, you retain the energy to get the best out of yourself every time. When every website you and the team deliver goes down without a trace, you start each new project with a deficit of 10-0.
If you're already running, why not go for first place together?