I got an email today from an overseas company offering to help me redesign my website using the latest technologies. I’m sure you’ve all had at least one of these and they all seem to follow the same basic format.
“We have looked through your website and you could benefit from our website design services. We are highly experienced in……”, followed by an impressively long list of website design jargon.
I’m sure you can judge for yourself if these are companies you’d like to do business with but it did get me thinking about how this marketing could be erm… slightly misleading.
Blinding You with Science
As a techie person myself I know how easy it is to drop into jargon mode. I’m sure it’s not just IT people (although they do seem to be among the worst offenders) as most industries have their own sets of buzzwords and abbreviations. But when talking to someone outside your industry it can sound like a strange foreign language.
Sometimes when I talk to a potential client after they’ve been chatting to another website design company they start throwing lots of this jargon back at me. Very quickly it becomes clear that they don’t actually understand what it all means, it’s just that the other website design company has used this long list of buzzwords to impress them. Some even go as far as saying that their list of buzzwords is the best and only way to build a website.
“We’ve been told we need a website running on an Apache web server programmed in PHP5.4 using Dreamweaver connected to a MySQL database system using XHTML coding and JSON data exchange for AJAX web requests.”
Sounds impressive right? They must know what they’re talking about.
But are they right? Is this the best solution? Are there any other solutions? Do you have a clue what any of that actually means?
Please don’t be fooled into thinking that somebody who can list endless website technologies actually knows what they’re doing. If they can’t explain to you in plain English what each bit of their sales pitch means and why it’s important for you, then they probably don’t know themselves.
Keep It Simple
I’m a firm believer in keeping things simple. Yes, the above paragraph does describe a perfectly valid website design. In fact it is the setup I use for most of my websites.
But wouldn’t it be much better for me to say to you,
“You need a website design that does exactly what you want it to do and that effectively gets your marketing message across to website visitors.”
The technology behind your website should really be a secondary issue and one that I, or whoever is designing your website, takes care of for you.
The Right Website Design Solution
The right website design solution is one that helps your business grow and prosper. Providing your website covers all the features you require, lets you have the control you need and is built to expand as your company grows then it’s the right solution for you.
How your website design company puts it all together really doesn’t matter.
Always remember that your website is a marketing tool. You need it to market, sell and provide services to your customers. If it can achieve that you’ll be happy.
Some Jargon You’ll Hear and What It Means
If you talk to webiste deign companies you will hear jargon. So here’s a few of the main phrases and what they actually mean.
PHP is the main programming language website developers use to build websites. Alternatives you’ll come across are ASP.NET websites programmed in C# or or Visual Basic, maybe even Ruby or Java. All of these languages can be used to build any website. The choice is really down to which one your web programmer is most familiar with.
An Apache server is a program that runs on your web server computer and allows it to show your website to visitors. You’ll also come across Microsoft IIS servers and all of these can either run on Microsoft Windows computers or the Linux machines. Usually the server your website design company will use will match the programming language they’re developing your website in.
MySQL is a type of database system. Modern websites use databases to store your pages, subscriber lists, etc. You’ll also hear website designers talk about Microsoft SQL servers. Again the database system they will use will match in with their programming language.
Dreamweaver is a program used to write websites. I only mention it here as I’ve quite often seen it used by companies to suggest that they are very professional. Yes, it is a professional level piece of software but anyone can buy a copy for about £400. For many websites it’s not even the best tool. It’s another one of those phrases someone may drop in in the hope of impressing you.
In addition to these phrases there is an endless supply of web design jargon. My advice is simple. If someone throws a piece of jargon that you and you don’t understand it, ASK. If you can’t get a sensible reply they don’t know the answer.