There is a tendency for a person with a modicum of skill in programming or design to declare themselves a “web designer”. But serious websites demand a multi-disciplined approach that require the high level skills of programmers working in unison with experienced designers.
Trained, professional designers should create the design and programmers should do the coding. Sounds obvious, but it’s a practice often not followed.
Fit for purpose? The structure and content of a website needs to closely parallel the product or service being presented. It needs to reflect the objectives and values of the organisation it promotes and focus on the core market, customer or consumer.
Anil Glendinning of eTrading Partners comments that, “Designing an ecommerce site is just like building a real shop. It takes time, planning and careful consideration”.
It also takes skilled professionals to build it and careful training of your staff to maintain it. It can be a pretty scary thing to do for the first time. There are many ecommerce developers out there, some cheap and some expensive. Some work well, others fail miserably. How can you possibly know who to choose?
Generally speaking there are two parts to our ecommerce websites, the first is the ecommerce engine and the second is the website design. The ecommerce engine is the name given to the powerful programming that handles all of the complex features of the website, from shopping baskets to displaying products.
You cannot actually “see” the engine as it’s really just a set of processes and calculations, everything that you see in a website is “design”.
Glendenning says, with eTrading Partners approach, “The engine is largely pre-built but allows for a great deal of customisation within specific parameters”.
“Having it pre-built allows us to save time and cost with the website which means that it costs our clients less. Approximately 80% of the engine is pre-built before we start the website”.
Design on the other hand needs to be completely bespoke and will be built from scratch every time. This is because the design needs to be completely unique and individual and is with the website’s target audience in mind.
A website selling baby products will have a very different audience to that of one selling football memorabilia for instance.
Understanding what makes these audiences tick and what turns them from browsers into buyers, is the job of an experienced graphic designer, and building an ecommerce engine requires the skills of a highly trained developer.
As you can see, both parts of a website are not only equally important, but also equally complex.