We have to get everyone pulling together, web professionals, support agencies and business. Whether an accountancy firm, a medical lab, or a carpenter, they share a need we all benefit from seeing fulfilled.
Culture change is required and achievable. Through central, or local government, business chambers, support facilities, those working in the web industry and by businesses helping themselves.
Any company will want to pursue a route that could alter profitability. Dealing with misunderstanding and technical flaws is a logical step but more likely with external support. This needs to be focused, information and knowledge are not the same.
Separation Should Stop
Many business support agencies have a section on websites but they tend to continue the theme of separate tasks. An approach which fails to promote holistic web development.
Design, content, search optimisation, marketing and all elements of a business should be integrated with development from day one. They need to run in tandem, not be add ons.
Whether self managed, or contracted out, web development has been split into tasks which should not be separate and support information has been task based. That may be sound information in a way but is insufficient. Moreover, it is not working.
Knowledge is information + skills + experience + understanding, all applied to one objective. Using this during the build process and on an ongoing basis is essential to success on the web.
The requirement is to get away from the misnomer we acknowledged on the opening page. Instead of "Web Design" we need to think in terms of "Online Business Development".
Budget and available time may vary but the principle can be applied to a large company, or sole trader and to everything they do. All activity has web related elements, from the workwear you order, to how staff communicate with each other.
As with the separate tasks, the online and real world need to be drawn together. This starts with business taking on a "think web" philosophy and we can all lend a hand.
National agencies, councils, business membership and support bodies do a great job helping business. They just need to make a few vital changes to the theme.
The web is an infant industry and turning to a web designer became the standard path. This is a good idea but every agency should put out a clear message, producing a website is not an end in itself.
All website tasks need to be unified and the website be integrated into the business. This should be reflected in every help page, course, seminar, network event. As businesses need to think web, so do those offering them support and guidance.
Organisations also need to make full website support as available to business as bookkeeping, or health and safety. Running dedicated clinics where possible would be invaluable.
Professionals & Educators
Web professionals should work together more, integrate their skills and explain to business owners why. Business decisions are not about cost, they are about return on investment.
Equally, integrating wider aspects avoids constant revamping, saves cost and brings a quicker return. There is no need for web designers to lose business, the opportunity exists to move from a limited sale to a value added one.
Colleges and universities are often the starting point for web design skills. We appreciate curriculum restriction but again, there needs to be change. All the technical skills in the world may build beautiful pages but do not build a business website.
Filling Web Needs
The current position has been shown by factual data. We are lucky to operate in a country full of innovation and determination but one more ingredient needs to be added to make the UK thrive.
A fading economy, or the pursuit of opportunity are the choices. No business, however small, should be left without a website and all should have access to knowledge bringing success.