Photographer/Designer Keith R. Stevenson sits down with ENX2 Director of Web Design and Development Mike Hollos for an in-depth discussion on web design.

Keith R. Stevenson: Hello and welcome to Five Questions With ENX2. My name is Keith R. Stevenson, photographer and designer and a newcomer to the world of digital marketing. I’ve got a lot of questions about the ins and outs of the business. So I’m sitting down with members of the ENX2 team to pick their brains and learn more about this dynamic industry.

Today’s guest is Mike Hollos, Director of Web Design and Development for ENX2. Thanks for joining me today, Mike.

Mike Hollos: Thanks, Keith. Longtime listener of the show.

Keith: All right. Well, if you’re a longtime listener, you know the format of the show. One of the things we do is we have five questions. Sometimes a little bit of extra questions are added in as they appear. So we’ll just jump right into it.

So this is sort of a “chicken or egg” question but what method do you employ when starting a client’s website from scratch? How does that work?

Mike: Yeah, usually we’ll take a look at any existing branding that may be in place. Even if it’s just like a business card, brochure, or any sort of signage or logo and we’re just kind of working off of that. And maybe we’re using the same color scheme, maybe we’re modifying that logo a little bit. But we kind of start there and then we just brainstorm a little bit from there. Maybe even just jotting down some ideas on a sheet of paper.

Keith: So, real old-school.

Mike: Yeah, we’ll take a look at maybe some competitor websites to see what they’re doing, what we could do better in the design that we do. But yeah, a lot of the time it’s just coming up with ideas in our head and putting them into Photoshop and going from there.

Keith: And then you take and show those designs to the clients and stuff like that? You kind of get feedback on how that works?

Mike: Yeah. We usually provide just a static image of some of the designs that we come up with just to gauge whether or not we’re on the right path. And then from there, we’ll just kind of build off of that, create other mock-ups and then eventually put it into programming and into code and onto the web.

Keith: Fantastic. How does an excuse web design differ from other marketing and design agencies? I mean, I feel like we do things differently here than you might not find it in a lot of other places.

Mike: Yeah. So. What we do is we provide unique designs and a lot of companies start from templates. There’s thousands of WordPress templates out there, tere’s thousands of HTML templates to go from.

Keith: You mean like pre-made designs that you kind of just plonk your name on, right?

Mike: Yeah, and anybody in any business can buy those designs. They’re like $25, $50, and a lot of times there’s thousands of companies using those designs.

Keith: So, you look just like everybody else.

Mike: Exactly. So we want our clients to have a unique presence online that matches what they do service-wise.

Keith: You’re making things from scratch more or less. So, when you go in and you create these new web designs, what makes them effective? Generally, what makes effective web design? I know it’s a big question.

Mike: Basically, it comes down to user experience. As long as people can find what they’re looking for without too many barriers in the way. Like we don’t want somebody who’s looking for a phone number to have to click through like seven different pages to find a phone number. We want that in a spot where they expect it to be.

Keith: You want the important information to be readily available.

Mike: Yeah. So if somebody’s coming from Google we kind of can gauge what they’re searching for and we can kind of tailor the site for that. A lot of times people aren’t coming right to the home page; they’re coming right into a service page. So we want to provide you information about that service right on the page, readily available.

Keith: So, that kind of incorporates some of the things that Wendy was talking about with SEO or search engine optimization. So, you look at the search queries that people put in and try to find your client’s kind of service and then you try to incorporate that into the design?

Mike: Yeah, pretty much. I mean Google loves content. So, the challenge on the design side is to incorporate all that content on a page but then display it in a user-friendly way. So it’s not just paragraph after paragraph of text.

Keith: All right, so you’ve probably done hundreds of websites in your time here. So if a client comes to you and wants you to design a website and they ask her something that really doesn’t work with the rest of your design. Like what do you do? How do you convince them otherwise? Do you alter your design to try and fit their poorly conceived ideas?

Mike: Yeah. I mean, that’s definitely one of the hard parts of being a designer is the client communication, the back and forth. We’re fortunate enough here where most of our clients just let us kind of do our thing. So, there’s not a lot of back and forth, but it does happen from time to time. And it basically just boils down to the little couple discussions here and there.

A lot of times, it’s more like an educational conversation. Like maybe we did something a certain way for a particular reason and we’re just kind of educating the client on our thinking was for doing that sort of thing. But at times there are instances where we do have to give in a little bit and then maybe do something we’re not thrilled about doing but in the end. It’s about making the clients happy and as long as the results are good. A lot of times it’s just a subjective thing. It’s really not going to matter if you know somebody clicks on the phone number or not. But you know as long as it’s not getting in the way of what we need to do.

Keith: So it sounds like when you go in with clients, if they have an idea that really doesn’t jibe, you kind of explain your thinking and then if they’re resolute on it, you kind of work it in and try to make it work as fast as you can, right?

Mike: Yeah, pretty much. And if it’s something that’s going to be detrimental to the user experience or even like a page load issue, we’ll definitely make sure that nothing gets in the way of that kind of thing.

Keith: So working with clients is a big part of the job. What do you wish that your clients knew about web design? And any prospective clients, what do you wish that they knew about the process or the work involved in creating the website?

Mike: Basically just there’s a lot of research or ideas that don’t really make it to the client. But you know, there is a lot of time spent doing that sort of thing and it could appear like we just throw something together in Photoshop or just grab a simple shape to use as an icon. But you know, there’s a lot of thinking that goes behind it, that all factors into why we chose to do things a certain way.

Keith: It just doesn’t sprout from the ground fully formed. You have to fertilize that and come up with ideas and really explore the different aspects of the idea.

Mike: Exactly. I mean, logos are perfect examples. You can look at the Target logo or the Nike logo and it’s just a simple shape. But a lot went into choosing that shape and the reasonings behind that. Even the colors that they chose; it’s all planned out and for a particular reason.

Keith: They hadn’t just didn’t sit down at an easel and just draw that out and say “Perfect! We’re done. Let’s take lunch.”

Mike: Exactly.

Keith: All right. Well, there’s anything about what you do that we didn’t cover you think would be important for people to know?

Mike: I mean personally, I love designing websites. I’m involved in a lot of the programming of the websites too. It’s something I’m passionate about, and trying to keep up with trends and just keeping up with technology really is always fascinating. And there’s always something new around the corner.

Keith: Fantastic. Well, thank you very much for joining me today, Mike.

This has been Five Questions With ENX2 podcast. I am Keith R. Stevenson. Subscribe if you’d like to hear more from the talented group of people here at ENX2 and find out a little bit more about digital marketing. Have a great day!