I’ve been working as a website consultant and designer since 1998. Over that period, I’ve seen many technologies and design approaches come and go. Some were useful and satisfying to work with, and others were necessary evils. Sadly, in software—and many fields for that matter—there isn’t always a correlation between quality and longevity. This profession requires constant curiosity and attention, and I’ve paid my dues and learned how to tell what’s a fad and what’s worth paying attention to.
The purpose of tuman.design is simple: build the most affordable websites that are also good.
Aside from one disillusioning year working at a high-end (and insanely expensive) software production company, I’ve been an independent consultant that entire time. Experience has led me to believe that value is the single most important thing I offer my clients. This doesn’t mean I’m the least expensive designer (see the graph, right), it just means I offer the most affordable websites that use solid tech, look great and work well, and don’t leave out anything important.
“Value” may not be the sexiest term out there, but I think it’s the thing most small businesses, nonprofits, and individuals with important projects should think about more when starting a new website project. It means you’re really getting something for your IT dollar, and when you’re done, you have something to be proud of. Here’s what any good contemporary website needs to do:
- look good and work well on all devices (desktop/laptop computers, tablets, phones). the industry term is “responsive” and it means sites won’t look the same on every screen. instead they’ll look right on every screen. for instance, tabular data (calendars, schedules, comparison tables) might turn into groups of bullet points on a single-column smartphone display.
- let nontechnical users do routine maintenance by themselvesas easily as possible. websites are complex, so it’s hard to learn how to do everything involved in building and maintaining one. that said, routine tasks like updating page and image content, writing blog posts, performing software updates should be easy.
- use technology that’s mature and stable. it’s impossible to futureproof any technology project, since the pace of change and disruption is fast and relentless. it’s not impossible to make smart guesses about what will last 3-5 years so you can count on getting your money’s worth from a given development effort.
- grow and evolve without building a new foundation. as the world changes around us, your site should be able to change to accommodate your pivots and new initiatives. there are other important pieces that may be crucial to the success of a given project: search engine optimization, eCommerce, event calendars and registration, and a myriad of others. . . and even if you don’t prioritize one or more of these at the beginning of the project, a site must be able to accommodate them if you decide to add them later.
- lead to measurable results. anyone can build something that looks cool and all your friends praise. when your site is really working, you should notice a change in how it helps your organization meet its goals.
Without the above fundamentals, you can’t have good value: bad work isn’t a good deal, not matter how cheap the price tag. But when all of the above are in play, and the cost is affordable. . . that’s value!
There are many ways to build a website, but so many designers and firms overlook something basic and critically important that can undermine a website project—either now or in the not so distant future. Experience and affordability mean correct choices and money in the bank when it’s time, inevitably, to recalibrate and do something new.