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One of the many questions that every designer asks themselves throughout the course of their career is, “What makes me a good designer?” and even further, “What makes my work quality, and sets me apart from the rest of the design world?” For the most part, many will base the quality of their work off of the look and how it may compare to that of another designer, when in reality it comes down to much more. In a time where designers are a dime-a-dozen, figuring this out could mean the survival of your business, or your livelihood as a designer.
Over the past month and a half I worked up a website for a Tulsa based consultant and entrepreneurial mentor named Eric English. (To see his website, go to eric-english.com.) Throughout the course of the 6 weeks it took to complete his project, we had quite a few conversations that boiled down to what makes a quality designer, and more specifically what makes a good web-designer. By the end of our conversations, we established that there are three things for web designers that not only help their work stick out, but will define them to every client that they work with.
1. The most beautiful thing about your website is that it works.
Most of the time I used to sit down at the drawing boards for a website, and would get so caught up in the look and color-pallets of the website that the end product would lack in many of the functional needs expressed initially by the client. This typically resulted in me spending a significant amount of time going through the website and needing to adjust the majority of the code and even changing what had originally spent time on to make the website more functional. This may not seem like a big deal, but when you are working on a tight budget this can result in working quite a few hours for free and even frustrating a client.
Your initial design should be based around the content and functional needs of the project. This allows the website to flow as one piece rather than looking like something that was really well designed, and content that was just thrown in.
2. Great photography changes everything.
You could have one of the best designed website in the world on paper, but if it lacks quality imagery that help define the nature of the content you could drastically lose the attention of the viewer. We are in a time where full screen images and full width websites define the majority of “quality” websites on the market. If you have a photography gift, this can change the way that clients and outside sources view your website, so you should begin offering photography into each web package. If you are terrible at photography and are just a web designer, make a contribution to the creative community and contract a photographer to work with you on websites.
3. Analytics, Conversions and Search Engines
This final area can really take your websites from a “cool art project” to a functioning asset to the company receiving the website. The entire reason that the client is hiring you is to do one of a few things. They are likely looking for this website to help with their online web presence, give information about their company and how others can get involved, and provide a means of contacting the company. All of this equates one thing.
They want this website to make them money.
Through analytics you can measure how many views a site is getting, and even further how much money the client is making off of each view. Search engines allow the company to be more easily found and allow a wider margin of individuals to take part in wht the company is selling. You could go on for hours, but the overall point is if you do not know what I’m talking about, you are doing your clients an injustice and should either learn or find someone you can contract to for this area because at the end of the day good sites preform, and in many cases make money.
Thanks for reading! Be on lookout for more blogs and projects to come.
Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to travel to LA and connect with Pastors from all over the country. The church planting organization ARC, Association of Related Churches, is working to plant churches throughout the cities of the US and also the world. The goal being to truly make disciples of all nations.
This week we represented the organization World Compassion, and made connections with these pastors, but this week was all leading to an international trip to Burma with the team from World Compassion. There we will be helping train Burmese pastors and putting on a 2-day music festival for the local community in Twantee. This all will be an opportunity for the pastors and church in the area to learn and develop this as a monthly tool in their arsenal for reaching the community.
Follow up to see photos from the trip to Burma!
The two weeks I spent there allowed me to encounter some of the most amazing people. One specific story that sticks out to me was the story of Mutteher. His name is not German, because he actually was born in Afghanistan.
When Mutteher was 3, the American occupation of the Middle East was taking place, and Mutteher’s family was caught right in the middle of it. When Sadam Hussein was overthrown and there was temporary anarchy in his country, his parents decided it was no longer safe to stay. They decided to move to a safer place, but the more they moved, the more they realized the safest place may be the furthest from home.
They left their home, leaving behind Mutteher’s father and grandmother. His grandmother was not in a healthy place to make such a strenuous travel and so his father decided he would be the one to stay and keep care of the grandmother. Within this time frame he helped Mutteher leave and depart safely to Europe, where the hope was they would find peace and a place to build a new home.
In the process, Mutteher’s father was caught trying to help his family leave, and while his family would land safely in Germany within a few hours, he would spend the next amount of time in an Afghani prison cell. This made things very difficult for the grandmother, and the family as a whole. While the grandmother was able to eventually take a flight to Germany within the next few weeks, the father remained within the prison cell he had already been in for some time.
When I met Mutteher two years ago, he had been living in Germany for most part of 6-7 years. The painful past, that he likely was not old enough to remember bore weight on his mother as she told me the story of their experiences coming in to Germany. How when they first arrived they were not accepted, and were actually treated as racial outcasts because of the obvious cultural differences they had not yet become accustomed to.
She told me that now, even though they had lived in Germany for almost 7 years, they had still not heard from Mutteher’s father. With such a dark past, one might expect that Mutteher would have been lonely and depressed. The amazing other half of the story is of the Germans running a ministry out of a shopping mall in the zone in which Mutteher and his family first moved. How when they got there, they found peace and hope Christ, not to mention the relationships that would be built.
These Germans were the people that I was priveleged to meet two years ago, and this year lead a team to partner with. Stories like these are countless as the entire zone has become clustered with immigrants from the Middle East and Turkey.
It was amazing to partner with such amazing people, to whom I can now call friends. I am looking forward to the day when I can go back and spend more time ministering along side my German friends, and hopefully even live there. I also thank all who played a part in helping me get there, and know that you played just as much a part of what was accomplished during those two weeks.
Over the past 6 months, I have had the opportunity to sit under people who have taught me the depth of the effect that your thoughts can have on your life. It is interesting to me that we convince ourselves sometimes that by being down on ourselves, or thinking negatively, that we somehow are making ourselves better people.
Clearly this is not true.
One of the members of our creative team mentioned to me that there is a shift of thinking when you begin to positively say the positive things about yourself, even if they are not yet true. This kind of thinking allows for personal growth, but even follows suit with the heart of King David in the Psalms in which he encouraged himself. This seems foreign, because in some weird way we have told ourselves as a generation that this is pride. Now don’t get me wrong, for some people this is pride. For those who are naturally insecure, though, this brings on a new mindset of understanding who you are.
It doesn’t help at all to do this kind of thing on your own either. Humans by characteristic were not created to be alone, and this is not necessarily in reference to marriage. God intends that we work through these kinds of things with other people, all the while finding our identity in God. It comes more naturally because of the fact that we are created in the image of God and we are returning to the place from which we have been allured.
In the end, it is important that we find ourselves pursuing a true understanding of ourselves, but based in the understanding of who God has called us to be, not what we feel we should be.