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Web Design is Like Building a House

May 7, 2008
at 12:00 pm PST

guatemalahouse.jpegPeople often ask me to explain why there are different Web design roles and how they fit in creating a Web experience: “Martin,” they say, “can I just go find an artist somewhere to redesign the experience on the business-to-business section of the Web sites that I just inherited?”

Unfortunately, usually not. For anything complex, you probably need to have more talent on board than just the proverbial ‘artist with purple hair.’ Creating a Web site or even a section of one is a lot like building a house, where you need an architect, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, etc. who come on board during the life of the project as needed.

For Cisco.com, we call on many different roles in designing different areas of the site; even if you have a much smaller web site, you will find that there’s a mix of roles needed to create the end experience (and if you use a vendor for web design or hosting or development, they will fill these various roles even if it’s just a few people wearing many different hats.)

Here is how I describe some common design and development roles compared to building a house:

User Researchers describe your housing and lifestyle needs and desires based on the fact that you have a small family and 4 dogs.Business Analysts tell you whether you need a bungalow, a house or a cathedral.Experience Designers and Information Architects determine that you probably need a 2,900-sqft ranch, and determine that it has a living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, etc and then provide the blueprints and maybe a 3D simulationVisual Designers paint the walls and specify a tasteful decorating scheme.Producers / Site Strategists determine what furniture you need in the different rooms, and maybe get to choose the color within the visual designers guidelines (probably working with a visual design)Engineers are the ones who actually build the frame, install the plumbing and electric, hang the drywall.Quality Assurance experts make sure everything is to code.Publishers are the room stagers who not only deliver furniture into the house but set it up in the rooms (over and over again every day!)RSS is the paper boy who throws the newspaper in your front yard.Photo credit: Concrete ForumsTechnorati Tags:

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