Simplicity is relative to a person’s understanding of a thing or process. What one person finds complicated, someone else with more knowledge will find less so. By the end of 2010, content management systems (CMS) like Drupal, Joomla, and WordPress pushed web design even further into user interface design territory. The idea of a “simple website” became vastly more complicated. Non-techies could now update their website’s content without getting their web designer or web developer involved; at least, that’s always been the idea.
With a CMS, web designers had to consider the back-end experience for non-technical people. This is an aspect of user interface design, and for many graphic designers that dabbled in web design, this was too much. They abandoned the profession in favor of print media and other work.
As mobile design became mandatory toward the end of 2013, the complexity of building websites increased again. Tools emerged to help web designers get the job done faster and with fewer errors. But once again, many ran into a wall: how do you preserve the design integrity all the way down to smaller screen sizes and still give non-technical people the ability to modify content safely?
Which brings us to today. Web design agencies today find themselves in the path of technical support. Not only do they have to build the website, but they also must train and support their clients in its use. A lot of low customer satisfaction comes from this aspect of outsourcing web design to an agency because many web design firms won’t get near the issue of training or technical support. They don’t have any experience with formalized technical support implementation and mistakenly see tech support as a knowledge problem on the user’s end of the phone that sucks profit and productivity from their business.
However, most people don’t want to figure out a CMS for themselves, so training is essential. Few web designers are instructors, know how to create user manuals, or have taught technology classes in a formal instruction environment. But for those of us with such backgrounds, training is a genuine business requirement. It is the primary means of reducing complexity for the client and increasing customer satisfaction. It is an immediately valuable benefit that feels wrong to withhold from the client. With training in mind from the beginning, it informs the design from day one.
Simplicity is always the goal, but understanding what that means is important for both client and web designer in the age of the CMS.