12 November 2013


When you step into the room with a client, you are a visitor from the future. You, web professional, spend your days immersed in the new paradigms of the multi-device web. Yet even for you, the constant change and adjustments that come with living on the internet can feel overwhelming. So how do you think your clients feel? 

The web is fluid and mercurial. Our processes for working with it—and our clients—need to reflect that. It’s time for us to shed the vestigial mindsets we’ve inherited from the advertising world—the closed communications and drama of the “big reveal”—and build new systems based on honesty, inclusion, and genuine communication. We can bring our clients into the process right away, letting them see all the flaws and bumps along the way. Through this relationship they will become true partners—rather than confused, anxious bystanders—as we learn to better navigate this strange, evolving digital universe together.

Perspective is everything 
When your clients first think of a website, the mental image they conjure is likely that of a web browser as rendered on a desktop computer. This is completely understandable—after all, the majority of their website experiences occur while sitting at desks, fiddling with the things sitting atop those desks.

From where we’re sitting, however, we see the web as comprised of many more devices. Until recently, it’s been convenient to think of those devices as belonging to definable buckets like “smartphones,” “tablets,” and “laptops.” But as more and more varied devices have entered the market, those buckets have multiplied and overflowed, giving way to an amorphous continuum of display sizes, resolutions, browsers, operating systems, conventions, and interface possibilities. 

This has required an overhaul in our thinking. Rather than websites being a series of perfect constructions rendered on each screen in exacting detail, web designers have started thinking in terms of systems. Flexibility has become a more valuable currency than specificity. If your clients have ever been part of a traditional design project before, this is not what they’re expecting to encounter in your meetings. So how do we begin bridging this gap? How do we help our clients start seeing the internet through our magic design goggles? For heaven’s sake, how do we talk about this stuff?

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