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Clueless clients and whose fault is it?

Yes there are clueless clients - but mostly not due to designer/developers faults. When the web became, there was a huge hype to jump the band wagon without so much of a thought as to why, how, who, being answered correctly.

The web was THE place to be - at all costs. It was not a well researched business model or objectives that led decisions, it was competitive pressure.

These clients were NOT interested then in learning about the communication platform and its limitations/constraints and the fact that the economy was changing from being vendor based to consumer based.

With the dotcom burst - those clients were more than happy to blame it all, on whoever - but certainly not on themselves.

Remember when the markcom directors became suddenly experts on web questions and sysadmin were fighting to be recognized as such?

Web designers/devs were the people in between - the outside suppliers in most cases. We all know what it means to be a supplier - you want the contract - most time - and do as your told, or else.

In post-dotcom - these clients have rarely made any efforts to learn about the web opportunities - the CFO and money departments are NOW very concerned with web dev. It's gotta cost less and do more.

Yet, the same obstacles remain: the client is often unknowing of what it means to reach an audience, what to do with a website, the advantages and disadvantages and as a new media - sticking to the constraints of which standards are only one part of.

I agree there's a lot of garbage on the web - it is such a new industry - we shouldn't forget about it.

One example that comes to mind is related to the car industry. Most know that the first cars were built to spend as much gasoline as possible - upon the first petroleum embargo, it became a big opportunity for companies to build smaller and less petroleum consuming cars. When the time was ripe - they hit the market and still dominate it.

Now close to a century later, as we embark in yet another petroleum crisis, don't tell me that car makers didn't look into alternatives? Yes they did, but their earnings/profits were more important than planning the future...

One of my long standing view - is that for companies to succeed on the web - they have to build their corporate memory (mapping their business processes) and, reengineer them to take advantage and/or find their opportunity on the web... which of course is rarely done.

Excepting a couple of outstanding examples, one of which is Oracle who shifted the information rarity paradigm into an information to all paradigm - no matter what the *competition* would do with such information disclosure.

They, in the early days of '96, generated one of the first successful online model.

The main obstacle is overcoming resistance to change. It takes time to educate, to formulate arguments and to build proven, tested models.

We are now in trial* stage but clients (and investors) have fired the innovators. In economic downturns, the first area to be bumped out of the money loop is always related to ideas and creative activities: research, communication and... added to the string of lately, web design and development.

*Trial used not as in standing trial, but as in:

attempting to

confronted by

and tested for proof and/or results.

As a researcher - trial comes with another significant word and becomes, the trial and error (mistake) process. A process is not a proven recipe. It's a becoming mode - not a finite one.

Through the years, web designers/devs have spent countless hours learning, adjusting, investing time to ride the web and still are.

We are pioneering this together with leaps and bonds, with successes and failures. Education is the key word here. Encouraging everyone who, by small and big efforts, are building the web with inherent human traits, genius and flaws all meshed together.

We need a hugely inquisitive, open and positive outlook to understand that

a) change doesn't profit those in power (from an old adage)

b) change takes time.

The advantage that we have is this: when I was studying *change movements in history*, in pre-internet time for a new idea to reach mass awareness, it took anywhere from 70 to 100 years. With the rate of information cycle via the net - which I approximate to x7 (some go to x10, benchmarking products x25) - we can thus anticipate seing these changes implemented within the next 7 to 10 years.

Historically - this has never been done before. This makes for an exciting time to live in.

Patience is definitely required - the web is barely a budding teenager... take heart: the web is yet to come!

-> next: Communication design /#1


Editorials by Carole Guevin


Essays — ethics — business of design — brain bytes — digital creative culture.

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