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
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.
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.