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Web Design and the Mona Lisa Smile

I was recently asked by a national magazine for web based business what my biggest obstacle in my work was to overcome. Well, I was honored that they wanted to interview me and thought and thought about this for a while. The Internet business is a dyna

Jun 04, 2008

Web Design and the Mona Lisa Smile
by Greg Richburg

I was recently asked by a national magazine for web based business what my biggest obstacle in my work was to overcome.   Well, I was honored that they wanted to interview me and thought and thought about this for a while.  The Internet business is a dynamic industry, changing constantly and there are so many obstacles to go up against, I couldn’t come up with something on the spot.  So I thought…

The Mona Lisa Smile…

I am a function over fluff type of business owner and I believe that the function and performance of a system or website is much more important then the looks or aesthetic of the site.  At Netricks, Inc. we focus on developing sites that work, perform well, and offer our clientele function based services like content management, page rank, search engine optimization, blogging features and a host of other rich pieces to database developed web sites making your Internet company footprint more then just an online brochure. 
 
We go head on head with what I call the “Groovy Graphic” based web developers that focus on flash based websites that offer looks over function.  Don’t get me wrong here, there is definitely a need for these as well, but for as to what makes a website great, we may not see eye to eye with the flash programmers that focus more on aesthetic than function. 

My opinion is definitely not rule and not for everyone.  And actually in my encounters, most people and business owners want it all: looks, function, fluff, the steak and the sizzle. 

The Mona Lisa Smile is everything. 

The trick is getting a site looking great without sacrificing the code base behind the system.  So that is it, my biggest obstacle, the most difficult aspect of business is achieving a perfect development, making websites that function but also look nice without the functional sacrifice.  You follow me?  That’s the paradigm.

At Netricks, we use many different graphic designers and it is very difficult to teach a true artist how to design within a structured environment and at the same time stay fresh and cool.  Working with coded web based applications like we develop does not give the graphic designer free reign to design whatever they feel like or in turn whatever the client wants.  The systems always have to be designed around the code in order to maximize functionality. 

In retrospect, a graphic based website, built in Flash or other graphic apps can be structured in a free for all manner, adding to aesthetic and design, but limiting the functionality that a database coded application can offer. 

So the pickle between function and fluff is where we get caught on occasion, if not frequently.  For the most part, there always has to be some sacrifice. The customer is going to have to sacrifice some aesthetic design elements if they want the function and purity of an awesomely optimized website. 

And likewise, if a customer wants a website to be heavily graphic oriented with flash elements and movement, then the customer needs to accept the fact that an elaborately designed graphical site will not be perfect in the eyes of the search engines or some other function that gets in the way; hence some function, database query system, or elements like search engine optimizations and other marketing aspects are sacrificed. 

Now after I was able to pontificate to the magazine editor about all this hogwash, she then caught me off guard with the second part of the question:  “imagine your business in 12 months time AFTER the issue above has been resolved, how would your business look?”

Well this again, I could not answer immediately, and then I came to my conclusion.  I don’t want to resolve it.  The hard part is the code I answered.  If I could resolve it, then the playing field between the Groovy Graphics designer and the hard core coders would be even.  Today businesses are asking their websites to do more for them then just sit there and look pretty.  I prefer to keep my advantage.

I prefer to win the code battles. We can always adjust design, and if that pickle was to vanish, then we would lose our edge over the competition.  Because that pickle is not just mine; it is every developer’s, every web design company’s and every coder’s out there to embrace or discard.   

In my company, we focus on the true art behind a website and that art is function, not aesthetic. We embrace the difficulties of developing a system that brings a client as close as possible to the Mona Lisa. 

Smile or not, I am much closer then they are.

Greg Richburg is the owner and operator of Netricks, Inc. a Fresno California Web Design Company. Greg also runs the Fresno California Entertainment News Portal Valley411, an international modeling agency, Moda Star Models and a web based Swimwear and clothing company, Bella Chica Clothing.  Find more article written by Greg Richburg at Netricks Tech News Articles.

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