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Web Design Day 2013: Takeaways From a Non-Developer

By Jessica Brown

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As anyone who reads this blog or works with us may know, I am the copywriter (more specifically Strategic Storyteller) at Imagebox. I help Imagebox clients write their messages to the world, one headline or social media post at a time. And while I work on the strategic end of projects also, writing site maps and placing content on websites, I am no pro at the actual development of websites, AKA: Writing code.

The entire Imagebox team had the pleasure of attending Pittsburgh Web Design Day last Friday at the New Hazlett Theatre. The day’s agenda included talks on graphic design, mobile strategy, open source projects and – yes, content! While many of my fellow attendees were developers or graphic designers, I was told that I would get a lot out of Web Design Day.

And you know what? I did. Here are my three big takeaways from Web Design Day 2013:

Organization is Key

Sara Wachter-Boettcher, a Philadelphia-based content strategy consultant, writer, and editor, had some unique and useful suggestions for the content creation process. One of the biggest challenges when it comes to sitting down and writing a website is taking a business’s stories, ideas, marketing materials, old websites and meeting doodles and turning it into… SOMETHING. The key here is processes and organization. Sara made the suggestion of creating a journey map so that you can truly understand how visitors are getting to and navigating your pages. This not only helps you better understand the user experience, but gives you structure to create your content.

Think Outside the Box (That is Your Smart Phone)
Josh Clark, founder of Global Moxie, gave a very interesting talk on what is next in the world of mobile. The point that resonated with me the most? The idea that users are so engrossed in their mobile devices that developers now have the challenge of creating apps that make us… less connected?

An example that he used was the app Table Drum, where your phone works as a drum kit that is controlled by actual, real-life drumming. So while you do need technology to make this beautiful music, you also need a table or hard surface to keep the beat.

And while I may not have to capability to build my own high-functioning app, this discussion was a nice reminder that it pays to come up with off-the-wall strategies to increase engagement.

Know Your Industry, Not Just Your Craft

The biggest thing that was made clear to me at Web Design Day was that being educated on your industry, not just the specific aspect of the industry that you work in, makes everyone’s jobs easier.

I am in the business of building websites. Yes, I am one cog in the machine. But I am a step in the process of a business reaching customers through the web. Members of Imagebox’s marketing, development, and design teams are also vital to the process. But it takes the entire team working together to produce a functional website.

It pays to have an understanding of what other team members do. Whether it’s me knowing basic HTML, our Interactive Marketer understanding how to edit a vector graphic, or one of our designers knowing what it takes to write a great headline. No matter your role at a company, understanding what is happening around you helps to make everything run more smoothly.

I left my first Web Design Day with some great knowledge on design and coding, an inspired mind, and approximately 15 free stickers. And while I am excited to be a part of building many great websites between now and then, I’m already looking forward to next year.