A Day in The Life of a Web Designer at Blue Whale Media

I have been working in Web Design for 18 years now, and have seen it evolve into a very different semblance from when it first began. Originally working in HTML, JavaScript and Gif Animation, I have seen the introduction of CSS, and a competitive range of Visual Interface Software battling for dominance in the market.

Adobe are the current market leaders excelling in industry standard software, offering a range of tools that cover everything from Design and Print to compelling Multi Media visuals, Animation, Film, The Web and much more. You may not be surprised therefore to learn that this our most widely used choice of software, myself using Photoshop, Fireworks, Illustrator, Premier, Flash and After Effects.

WordPress, World Leading Content Management System

Having worked with other Content Management Systems such as Joomla and Drupal, I can safely say WordPress is undoubtedly the best out there. Statistically speaking I’m not alone here, with WordPress currently having a market share of 59.9% and Joomla and Drupal following behind with 6.6% and 4.6% respectively.

It has the best support for good quality third party plugins so it’s as extendable as you need it to be. It’s also very secure and it’s ease of use both for developers and end users is second to none. It is for this reason that WordPress is our preferred CMS here at Blue Whale Media.

The Design Process

When I approach a design, I use the same techniques I use to critique a website. I step into the shoes of a potential customer viewing the site for the first time. What would their first impressions be?.. Would they be enticed to stay and dig deeper?.. is the navigation clear and well structured? Can they get to the relevant information quickly? Are significant ‘Call to Action’ opportunities in place?.. The whole point of having a commercial website after all is to covert traffic into sales.

When I’m happy the basic requirements are in place, I move on to fine-tune the content, making sure there’s a good balance between copy and imagery, and it is essential that high quality professional images are used.

The Importance of Using Good Imagery

Human beings are very visual creatures – shoddy images or poor-quality photography will translate subconsciously affecting the whole viewing experience, no matter how well the copy is written. We use www.shutterstock.com to maintain a consistent standard of high quality visuals. When working on a project, each of our customers have access to choose their own images ensuring we’ll get the best possible end result.

Having good photography is one thing, but what about custom graphics? That certain something that makes your site stand out and gives you your own voice. Our in-house Graphic designer Lewis Jarvis works with the customer and the Web Designers giving the site that professional finish and polish. He has a real flare for layout design and use of colour.

The Importance of Using Well Written Copy

Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about the copy too much as we have our own in-house copy writer, Toby Gallagher. Toby makes sure that the copy reads well, looks professional and most importantly, indexes well on the Search Engines.

I have been involved with copy writing before, and I can tell you that getting the correct keyword density to read seamlessly to the human eye is not easy. You need a discerning eye not to upset the delicate balance between how the human eye reads it and Googles Search Engine Bots crawl it. It’s a real skill – often unseen, but working away even while you sleep keeping you properly indexed, and Toby does a perfect job.

Bringing It All Together – The Advantage of Having a Great Team

It’s a real joy working as part of the team with Blue Whale Media. When I begin a design on a new project, most of the preparation has either already been done or is in process. Our office manager Danielle Whittaker collates the information and resources together, interfacing between the customer and the team. I know the graphics are going to good as will the copy, so I’m half way there already. Then begins the task of bringing it all together. Although I will occasionally get involved in some graphics, most of the time I’ll be using Lewis’s work which leaves me free to concentrate on the layout, Type set, Sliders/Banners and user experience.

Remember – you have 8 seconds to ‘hook’ your viewer.. your potential sale, so their first impression is absolutely crucial to the success of the website. Following the brief, I put my own interpretation of how to Wow their customers in that 8 seconds, inviting them to look further. When I’m happy it passes that criteria, I hand the demo over to my head of department, Co Director Stephanie Andrews for any final amendments before passing it onto the customer for approval.

After the website goes live, there are further heroes working behind the scenes ensuring a successful marketing strategy with the Social Media Team.