The Architect and the Interior Designer

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New Strategies for Internet Development


Over the past three years, dramatic changes occurred in web site development. Early web site "design" focused on the "look" of the site and resulted in a "nice looking" but minimally effective business tool. The focus of the early web sites was primarily on marketing and advertising and containing little integration with business operations. Many web sites are still developed using these less effective methods.

Current and emerging web site development focuses on developing viable business tools. Sometimes termed "e-business," the new generation web sites incorporate the web site, and related Internet technologies, as an integral part of the overall business operations. Far beyond the simple advertising and marketing models used previously, the current strategies incorporate Internet technologies into customer relationship management, workforce empowerment, field staff support, employee relations, project management, data collection and research, procurement, billing and bill payment, inventory management, and logistics. Web site development is now specifically designed to enhance the overall business mission, to reduce operating costs, and to develop long lasting customer relationships. Smart businesses are using the Internet as a serious business tool.

Current and emerging web development strategies require a fundamental shift in Internet development paradigms. While a web site "designer" or design firm was adequate for most first-generation and some second- generation Internet web site projects, Internet development is now a business critical undertaking and requires strong business technology skills rather than only graphics design. Simply hacking together a "nice looking" site with some "interactive" functionality is not adequate to meet current business demands. Businesses of all sizes are facing this issue of leveraging Internet technologies to enhance business operations and to reduce costs.

An analogy may help to illustrate the differences between web site "design" and Internet development -- and the consequent shift from web site "designers" to Internet developers/architects. For example, you decide to build a new custom home. You want the home to be usable, functional, and aesthetically pleasant but also safe, structurally sound, and secure. You need someone to design the house to meet your goals. When making the design decision, you typically do not hire an interior designer to design the house even though an interior designer may be able to make a home look good. Rather, you hire an architecture firm to do the design. The architect is a professional who incorporates aesthetics, structural integrity, functionality, utility, and technologies into an overall plan. The overall plan meets the objectives cited by the new homeowners while addressing fundamental construction issues like construction code compliance, load bearing, and structural integrity -- thus, not jeopardizing the integrity of the home for appearance reasons.

The architect is hired because the interior designer simply does not possess the appropriate skills for the task of building a home. The interior designer may be able to make the home appear more livable or make the home "look good" after it is built, but you probably would not want to live in a house physically built by an interior decorator. The point is not who is hired but who is appropriate for the magnitude of the task. If you are building a new home, you want a professional to design the home and to address the fundamental structural, livability, and technical issues. Just making the home "look good" is not adequate for meeting the objective of building a home.

In a similar fashion, web site "designers," who primarily have backgrounds in graphics design and "multimedia" design, may be able to generate quality advertising and marketing materials. They may even be able to generate some basic interactive features on a web site. However, this approach does not address the core technical and business issues faced by most businesses and certainly is not aiding businesses with meeting the formidable challenges of operating a business. An Internet technologies architect, unlike a web "designer", possesses the skills required to address aesthetics, technical issues, integration, business rules, and development requirements of an Internet development project.

Thus, the term "design" takes on very different context when applied to current Internet development. Rather than "design" in the context of simple visualization or modified graphics design, "design" is now used in the more complex context of architectural "design" where technical, structural, usage, security, functional, aesthetic, and engineering issues are collectively weighed and addressed. Design, therefore, demands additional skill sets to implement properly.

While any analogy is limited, a critical distinction between current and next generation Internet technologies development and web site "design" is evident. Current and next generation Internet strategies address business issues in a holistic manner and use the Internet, that is, a web site, email, short messaging, wireless devices, etc., as a common medium for allowing a business to succeed and grow. Having an Internet development professional with the skills to address business issues and the foresight to project future needs is critical to implementing an effective Internet technologies strategy for a business. The Internet technologies architect possesses the database, information architecture, systems administration, network administration, security, hardware, technical theory, user interface design, business, and technical skills required to properly and effectively design Internet business applications.

Recognizing the distinction between a web site "designer" and an Internet developer/architect requires diligence on the part of the business seeking the services. The business should evaluate the projects completed by the firm under consideration.

  • Are the projects completed by the firm "eye candy" or do the projects involve serious business integration?
  • Are the projects Flash driven or do the sites perform real business tasks like integrating with business databases?
  • Does the firm focus on "user experience" or does the firm address business issues?
  • Do the resulting projects require plug-ins or long downloads or do the projects download quickly and maintain cross-browser compatibility?
  • Do the projects focus on marketing and advertising or do the projects reflect serious cross-business functions?
  • Does the firm do graphics design and advertising or does the firm focus on business technology issues?

The responses to the questions will determine the ability of the firm to aid your business and the overall business value of the services provided. Using an experience Internet developer/architect will maximize the value of the Internet project for your business without sacrificing reliability and functionality.

Real Country Life's Web Design Team is trained in all aspects of web design and developement.
Call or write to us today for a free consultation!

Pamela Murphy, Proprietor
1138 Buchanan Road
White, PA 15490
24 Hour Emergency Service - 724-333-2041

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