I arrived at Callia Web 3 months ago as a designer with a general understanding of web design having taught myself the basics at the dawn of digital time, in the 1990’s. I started to use WordPress to build sites for the local Parish Council and the village hall in Great Bedwyn, Wiltshire, where I live.
These first few months of being part of a small creative agency have been really exciting. A blend of specialised skillsets and flexible working means Callia Web are able to meet an array of design challenges, including clients with new business ideas, moving organisations from analogue to digital or reworking existing websites.
I now see that the appeal of WordPress is vast, like its user base. It’s free, open source and responsible for almost a quarter of all websites in the world. Hobbyists start out with a basic blog that can sometimes turn into a business empire. Artists and organisations often need a portfolio site as an online showcase and e-commerce is redefining how we shop.
Of course, so much of web design is being determined by the everyday use of smartphones. Hours spent scrolling on small screens necessitates responsive sites with user interfaces that function at speed. How do web designers capture the attention of visitors who will spend a mere three seconds on your landing page before deciding whether to stay or move on?
The answer seems to be simple to say but far more difficult to execute. Received wisdom is to keep your brand fresh, the content of your website informative, and never, ever frustrate the visitor. Avoid ‘pain points’ at all costs! This is where we borrow concepts from sales and marketing to think about ways to create engagement with your visitor.
The working process at Callia Web is to start with very low tech paper and pencil sketches and detailed conversations with the client, from which a design can begin to emerge. Assumptions are questioned and goals defined before moving on to create site maps, mock ups and wireframe versions of webpages.
When it is time to code and build the site, we work with the latest version of the WordPress editor using themes whose power lies in their ability to be customised. Under the bonnet, the client can gain complete access to their site via a WordPress dashboard. This is an important part of the user experience, empowering the client to take ownership of their content. The final stages of delivering a website from Callia Web always includes training with the option of ongoing support.
I like being part of team that appreciates the importance of continuous learning with a view to ensuring its designs will work well in the future. We participate in the wider WordPress community, attending weekend conferences and supporting peers via online meet ups. I’ve seen this same ethos in practice when Callia Web advises its clients to write regular blog posts as part of their social media strategy.
It is reassuring for me to realise that those principles that first attracted me to web design still hold true: communication is key, visuals exist for a purpose, and ultimately good user experience will bring the best results for brand and business.
Being part of the community at Callia Web has brought many benefits so far. I’ve met lots of interesting people, been involved in many different websites and attended a company photoshoot. I’ve even been invited to WordCamp Europe next year…