When you build a house you start with an architect and then, at the end, bring in an interior designer to select the colours for paint and carpet. A Web Architect is the Web equivalent to a home architect. A Web designer is the Web equivalent to an interior designer. Why do people start at the wrong end for a Web site?
I see countless Web sites that fail because they are pretty and useless. Visitors find they cannot buy what they want in an efficient or accurate manner so they switch to a different safer Web site. One slight mistake can ruin your customer's confidence in your site. An experienced Web Architect can remove most barriers to sales in a short time for relatively little cost. If you leave the repair till next year, the repair becomes more difficult and expensive.
Benefits of a Web Architect
- Increase sales.
- Retain customers.
- Decrease costs.
Web site construction often starts with a Web designer, the interior decorator of the Web world. The Web designer produces a pretty looking page and a sketch of how other pages might link in to the first page. People buy what is little more than the selection of wallpaper. They then trust the interior designer to decide on the number of rooms, location of windows, and all sorts of practical issues unrelated to interior decoration.
Update March 2010
I see a few Web Designers are rebranding themselves as Web
Architects. My terminology caught on and created a new job category. Unfortunately a lot of the
Architects still have little training outside of producing glossy brochures. Their Web experience is based on Adobe products, not on making things work. They believe the marketing hype about Web 2.0 and push whatever is in fashion instead of what will work for your business.
How do you distinguish the real Web Architects from the born again Web Designers? Before you explain your business to them, ask them about your category of business. When they show you their glossy portfolio, ask them how each example relates to your business. They should show understanding of your business instead of Photoshop tricks.
Branding experts are experts at branding so why waste their talent on Web architecture? Let the branding experts talk with the Web designers. When the Web architect has the plan ready to add the finishing touches, the branding expert and Web designer can add their part.
Web architects bring everything together so need to be involved from the start. They help you plan where the other people fit in the overall plan. Would you let a plumber decide when a tiler should tile? No. Start with the Web architect instead of a person who is an expert at planning only part of the work.
Long Term Effect
Your Web site will decide your customer relations for years. You need someone who can look at your requirements long term. Forget their awards for pretty sites. Pretty pages do not generate sales or cut costs. Ask prospective suppliers why they are repeating mistakes made back in the 1980s in the online systems that preceded the Web.
Surely if a large corporation made an obvious public mistake back in 1980 and everyone in the computer industry had the chance to study the mistake, measure the effects, and observe ways to fix the mistake, that mistake should not occur today. The truth is many companies made many mistakes with the early online systems installed during the 1980s and smart people developed ways to prevent those mistakes happening again but few Web designers or Web developers read the lessons from the 1980s. Few universities teach any lessons from information technology history.
Web designers and Web developers often ignore useful research dating back as far as 900 years ago. The ancient Egyptians, when building their first tombs in the Valley of the Kings, observed and documented problems that are repeated daily on Web site development projects.
Good Web architecture is proven 1000% effective compared to good Web design.
Good Web architecture increases sales and saves you money this year and next year and for many years in to the future.
See also: Web Sites