July 21, 2012

Can anyone create a website?

Can anyone create a website?


That is to say, no one person can create an effective website. Yes, an 8-year-old can create a website, and you, faithful reader, can create a website for only a few dollars. It is neither difficult nor expensive to create a crappy useless site.

We’ve identified eight different skill sets required to do a commercial beyond-brochureware site, and we can confidently assert that no human being on earth has all eight. Some of the skills are right-brained, some left. Some strategic, some tactical. A lot of art, a lot of science. (Personal confession: I’ve been involved with websites for 18 years, and I can professionally handle only three of the eight.)

Recently I followed an online discussion of graphic designers who were bemoaning employers who turned them away because they were primarily print designers with no web coding experience. Everyone agreed they needed to acquire more skills. Sure. But I chimed in that they shouldn’t bring their old mindset along with their new skills: a focus on Pretty or Novel or Slick ain’t gonna cut it.

For example, an effective website must satisfy three audiences: human beings who demand detailed content, human beings who resist detailed content, and bots from search engines. No other medium makes those conflicting demands on creators, and many sites fall off this tightrope.

Eight skill sets, working together to make a great UI which makes a great UX. It’s a team sport.