Over the last four weeks I introduced four approaches to non-directive consultancy and I’ve explored how they can be used by website consultants. This post considers the relationship between consultancy and website design.
Good Website Design
Many people don’t appreciate design is not about artwork, a site that looks good is not necessarily well-designed. Design is ultimately problem solving. What is the best solution for this client?
We can abandon the idea that design is a creative art because it is so easy, using content management systems, to create sites with massive functionality. The problem is choosing the functionality that best meets the purpose of your organisation and not implementing that functionality. Implementing finctionality is not really all that challenging!
However, many clients are not consultors. A good consultor understands consultancy and that their organisation’s needs are not necessarily immediately obvious. They need help to work out the best fit between their organisation and its web presence.
Many clients cannot do this and their wants get in the way of discovering their organisation’s needs. To implement wants and not needs, can be an expensive mistake, in terms of both up-front costs, ie paying for things you don’t need, and lost productive life of your web presence.
Whilst a web consultant may assemble a website using old-style creativity, they can do their job without going anywhere near a computer! I know one consultant paid $20 000 a month to support a company that had a team of in-house designers!
I’m working on an assessment for a client who is planning a campaign for the next general election. I shall write about this work in due course. I’m helping them map out their online campaign over the next fifteen or so months and integrate their online and real life work. It is unlikely I’ll do much website design for this client, because they have that covered. But when you’re campaigning, especially with limited resources, you need someone to look after the long-term strategy, to work out the frameworks in which the campaign will operate.
The Consultant’s Role
Remember there are no clear boundaries between the four consultancy models. A consultant asked to work on a project may find they have a situation which evolves into a project. Projects and situations are likely to generate problems and cases. Resolution of a case may mean there is a need to review the situation and so on.
Consultants do whatever is necessary to help clients meet their objectives, occasionally in the teeth of opposition from their clients. How to do this with humility and not arrogance (I know better!) is a real challenge.
What do you think? What is the role for old school designers in a world full of content management systems?