Pretty Sad

I met with them one morning, in their elegant hotel. It was tastefully decorated – terrific accent colors, deep wood tones, lovely soft-hued wallpaper. It would be so easy to create a website that echoed that easy elegance, that took elements right from the hotel to craft a site that felt like you were taking a virtual visit in the hotel.

I did not impress them. I am just a country web designer to them. They went with a city firm instead. They paid much more than I would have charged. I saw the result last night. It made me want to cry. It has been on my mind ever since.

It is a completely professional design. And that is all. It fails to reflect the elegance and character of the hotel. It looks rather sterile, except for a single texture in one small part of the design where an attempt was made to incorporate a pattern similar to the wallpaper, but the wrong color. It looks like a man tried to design something a woman would like.

The site has flash where it does no good. It has an entrance splash screen, which does nothing for the site other than waste time getting where people really want to go. It has no SEO AT ALL. The copy was written by someone who is not natively from the US, and uses phrases that are not offensive in their native country, but which are offensive and crass in the US. The text is not formatted at all (not even any spaces between paragraphs), there are no legal statements anywhere on the site. There are personal photos where there need to be hotel photos, and one personal photo says, “click to enlarge”. The room photos do not have an enlargement option. Some photos are obviously stock photos (nothing like the land around the hotel). The site organization is cumbersome and awkward – you have to go three or four clicks deep to get at some info that should be at the top, while some of the info at the top is secondary information.

How does one deal with that? When you do something different, which nobody understands well enough to know what they need. When you do it right, and everyone else whom they’d get the service from does only one facet, but the client does not know that there ARE multiple parts to the job. When the client feels they know all they need in one area, but where cultural or web differences mean they don’t know what they think they know.

I suppose they got what they paid for. They paid for high end features, but they did so at the expense of minimal function. Sad.

This is not the first time we’ve encountered small and micro businesses who got snookered, because they did not understand what they needed, or what the industry would provide or leave off. I am at a loss as to how to promote in a way that helps people understand this. That there is more to web design than an expensive design. That the other services which are needed WON’T be explained to them, nor will they be included from most firms. They’ll expect the business owner to KNOW that, and to hire someone else for everything else, or they’ll hope they don’t notice what is missing (sadly, this is true).

So now I am building a site for their competitors. There will be no question as to which site performs better. The little country motel that I’ll be working with will have a site that outperforms the expensive site that represents the hotel. And it will do it for half the price.

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