Little did I imagine that redesigning and coding smeddum.net would lead to this, but after several requests from colleagues, I started to offer website design services. Over the last couple of years, what started as a small sideline has snowballed and is now one of my main activities.
The vastly increased dynamic content of websites and greater interactivity that collectively come under the banner of "Web 2.0" have opened up the potential of the internet hugely. Web design is changing rapidly. No longer do you need a webdesigner to set you up with a site (not that you did anyway if you were prepared to take the time to learn how to do it yourself). But it's much more simple now. There's a vast array of templates available, many low-cost and some even free, to give you a web presence. Most hosting companies now provide webstyler options with their cheap dynamic hosting packages. As well as this, there's the potential offered by social networking sites like Facebook or free blog hosting with the likes of Wordpress or Blogger.
So in this rapidly changing environment where everybody is getting online quickly and easily, what do I have to offer?
In a word, design. Even though the standard Web 2.0 'look' – rounded corners, shaded 3D-style 'reflective' buttons, bright busy multiple column/box layouts, lots of dynamic content, Flash banners, generic images, corporate ambience, etc – is a massive improvement over early text and template-based designs, it's beginning to seem a little overdone. After a while all these sites start to look the same. So if the purpose of your site is to get you noticed, merging into the crowd is perhaps not the best way to go about it.
Design trends come and go, but the basic principles of good design don't change. I'm un-fashioned enough to think that if you're going to pay good money to someone to design you a site, then it ought to last you a while. I place a lot of emphasis on coming up with clean, well-structured designs that last, and that reflect something of your own or your organisation's unique qualities. Sites that clearly and cleanly say what you have to say in as good-looking and user-friendly a manner as possible.
If this sounds like the sort of thing you're looking for, then read on.