Today for part 4 of our series we have an interview with the UK designer Richard Stelmach! Richard is going to talk to us about finding a balance between making your site unique and brandable versus usability as well as search engine optimisation and the uses of business blogging.
Richard runs the design company Creative Binge and you can view his portfolio here. He also runs a very useful design blog. Richard has been working in the design industry for 4 years and lately has been playing with social media sites and the traffic you can generate from them. He received a lot of traffic from Digg for a post entitled “What will Facebook look like in 40 years?”.
If you missed the previous interviews on how to improve your internet marketing efforts and website you can read part 3, part 2, and part 1. All feature interviews with some of the leading web designers in the United Kingdom!
UK2: A lot of the business websites I come across are pretty boring and dry, when you work with clients do you find this is what they want or are they wanting something original and brand able with their site and just not finding a designer who can do it?
Richard: I think if a corporate site fits the company’s branding then it’s a success. If the site seems a bit dull it might not necessarily be a failure, if it still looks good. But sites can be very stylised and unique while still conveying the company branding and it’s these sites that really have that x-factor and stand out. Somes sites and branding just don’t always have the scope for this though.
UK2: When you design an ecommerce website how do you bring originality to it? Why is originality important for any site?
Richard: It’s all down to the branding of the site. There are many ecommerce sites but they still convey the branding of the company. Play.com, dvd.co.uk sell the same things but look very different. Originality makes you stand out and captures people’s attention. One of the main aims of an e-commerce site is to be very use friendly and re-assure the user that it is trust worthy. However, i believe you can still build in originality and strong style, you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.
UK2: A lot of your web designs have excellent logos, do you explain to your clients the benefits of branding themselves or is that something most of them grasp?
Richard: I think most companies want a good quality logo that conveys their brand but I think clients see the importance of this in varying levels.
UK2: Do you think a blog can help a business promote themselves? Has your blog helped your work?
Richard: I think it depends on what the company does. But a blog is a good way of adding ‘stickiness’ to a site so that you can get return visits. If a blog isn’t relevent to what the company does, you can find other ways of creating stickiness. I mainly use my blog as an area of self expression, design experiments that I want to try out or things I want to show people but don’t have a place in my portfolio. It has helped my career as I have been able to achieve things outside of my workplace (such as the digg thing).
UK2: How important is keeping search optimization in mind during the web design process? What does that usually entail?
Richard: SEO is now a part of the design and development process, it is another factor that you consider whilst working on a site, even if a client hasn’t specifically asked for it. An optimised site also naturally comes from good practise and coding to the latest web standards, so the two go hand in hand, it’s intrinsic to any site.
UK2: If a small business asks you what the most important marketing tool on the Internet is what would you tell them and why?
Richard: Just having a good quality website that is professionally made and promotes their business appropriately. A bad website can make you look unprofessional or even untrustworthy, a good website can really show off your services, build trust in your customers and potentially increase business.
UK2: If you could have your clients read any three blogs, books, or websites what would they be and why?
Richard: I don’t think I know any! I think designers should read books, blogs and websites so the client doesn’t have to.
UK2: Thanks for doing this interview and do you have any parting words of advice, or anything else you would like to talk about?
Richard:The challenge of a designer is listening to what a client wants, correctly interpreting it, thinking of ways their design can achieve the client’s aims and then explaining to the client the reasoning of their design and how it can help them. A million thoughts go through a designer’s head whilst designing. A client should trust a designer’s opinion and expertise, likewise, a designer should listen to the client’s objective opinion. A successful project is when the designer and client work together, like a team.