August 12, 2015
The rise and fall of websites
I remember when websites were the latest thing, back in the '90s. Just having one made your business way cool. Knowing how to create websites was a good way for Graphic Designers to make money. But those days are so far gone I'm having trouble even seeing them in my rear-view mirror!
As of this writing, August of 2015, I am now informing the last of my clients whose websites I maintain, that they will need to start thinking about hiring someone else in the future. I haven't taken on new web clients for years, and the few that I have are "grandfathered in", if you know what I mean. But I have no plans to update the software that I use for web pages, and besides, websites are not what they used to be.
I created my website, BradHallArt.com, in 1999, on my iMac, which looked like the one in the picture above. And even then I was reluctant to go to the trouble of doing it. Not that it was all that much trouble in those days. A few lines of code were all that you needed. B for bold, I for italic. Simple. In fact, I was teaching "The Art of Web Design" by 2001 at GCC, and it was mostly just HTML, which stands for Hyper-Text Markup Language. Real computer programmers, of course, knew that HTML wasn't a language, but it looked scary to a lot of people. Until, of course, they learned that you just had to use B for bold, and I for italic. I was an Art Major, and this was a class in the Art Department. Trust me, it wasn't all that difficult.
And then it started to get wildly complex. Web pages started to get very crowded, and complex, with drop down menus, and "everything but the kitchen sink" on the home page. I continued teaching web design, and as a designer I begged people not to make such a mess of their page, but it was a trend that a lot of people wanted to do. Luckily, cell phones changed all that, and web pages went back to being more simplified.
Nowadays, of course, your website needs to look great on desktop computers, on tablets, and on cell phones. So while the layout of web pages has become simplified, getting them to work on all of these devices has become wildly complex. If a website just plain works, all of the time, on all devices, believe me, there are some very smart people making it work. Smarter than me!
So, if you have a website, fine. If it's simple, that's what you want. And all of the stuff that used to "drive traffic" or was peripheral, like social media, is now the most important stuff. Focus on getting that right. Get your Google profile correct. Get on Google+. Make sure you're indexed on Google. Make sure that people can find your business easily from wherever they see you, whether it's Facebook, or Twitter, or wherever. Don't drive them to your website, tell them where you are.
It was fun to see the rise and fall of websites, but it's history now.
Posted by Brad Hall