Web design is broken. Here’s how we fix it

Our CEO Aaron recently delivered a talk at the Canterbury Kent Digital Meetup about the web design industry is broken and how we can fix it. In the 30 minute talk which started with a brief history of the Internet, Aaron discusses how our industry ended up being so broken and how we can fix it by empowering our customers and regulating ourselves.

Watch the full talk along with Dan Knowlton’s talk about video content at the bottom of this blog. If you don’t have time to watch the whole video, here are just a few of the highlights:

We’ve left our customers behind

“There are several things over the years that have brought me to this point and there are only so many horror stories you can listen to on initial consultations on what happened when the prospect was with the last guy.

“We’ve left our customers behind in many cases we stopped even asking them why they want a website in the first place! When they challenge us we say they don’t get it. When they haggle on price we say they don’t understand the value. But I say it’s us who don’t understand the value!

“There is a gulf of knowledge in our industry, and we’re doing precious little to bridge it. Most people who don’t live in digital are still struggling with web 1… We’re on web 5. The gulf is huge and it is real. If we really want to have better conversations, help people get it … It’s about empowerment.”

We have an industry of amateurs

“Don’t get me wrong we are not amateurs and there are plenty of skilled web design businesses in our industry.

“Let’s look at the entry level for setting up a web design business compared to practicing law. For law you need to spend three years getting your degree, one year gaining experience on a Legal Practice Course and two years completing training. After, you need to work up the ranks and maybe specialise so it could be 10 years before your ready to step out and start your own business.

“Whereas the entry level for a web designer is a laptop and a week. I think you could set up a website design business and even get your first customer in 6 days.

“Starting at Squarespace and creating your own account, watching about 6 hours of YouTube content about how to use Squarespace, maybe go on to Web Design Depot website or wander out and buy the latest version of Web Designer Magazine to learn about the latest buzzwords and trends.

“From here i’d head back over to Squarespace to make my own website, write the copy and create a few concepts websites to show what you can do. Then get business cards and Google will index your pages. Congratulations. You are now a web design business.”

How we fix the web design industry

Together we can fix the web design industry by following our two-step approach:

Step 1 – We need to empower our customers

“If we bridge the gulf of knowledge we have by sharing our insight with our customers we can build trust. Let’s help people to help themselves in order to diagnose their own problems by using the tools we give them so that they can have better informed and empowered conversations when they come to see us.

“Let’s publish content and show our customers what we think great web design should be and let them decide if they agree with us or not. We need to make our business practices as user friendly as possible.”

Step 2 – We need to regulate ourselves

“We are at the low end of the scale in terms of being a vital business: when a website goes down, people tend not to die as a result. However just because we are not regulated it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t act as if we were. What I propose is a charter, an open agreement of the standards that we’ll hold ourselves to. Not just HTML5 and CSS3 but systems, processes, security and things like that.

“One more thing needs to happen. We need to change how we talk about websites. They are not, nor have ever been digital business cards. They are dedicated, reliable and consistent members of your team who can deliver your business objects restlessly 24/7. Given well defined roles and proper nurturing they can do what all technology should do: give you superpowers.”

If you want to hear more, including our mission to empower people, watch the full talk below.

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