Creative Industries LO3 Research
Activity 1 – Impact of technology and technical developments
Technology has had a major impact on web design. Back in 1996 things were a lot different on the internet. People were viewing content in 640×480 on the verge of 800×600, Google.com was in an unstable ‘not-working-all-the-time’ beta mode hosted by Stanford University, internet speeds were between 28.8Kbps and 33.6Kbps and the number 1 web browser choice was Netscape Navigator.
Things started to swing round in 1997, but there wasn’t a huge difference in the speeds going up to 56Kbps.
So back in the early days of the internet web pages were mostly large blocks of text with very little formatting and even less images as with such slow speeds web pages took minutes to load up.
The term Web 2.0 was first coined in 1999 by Darcy DiNucci, a consultant on electronic information design. She spoke about how right then, people only accessed ‘static screenfuls’ of information, big blocks of text, but in the future everything would be a lot more interactive. The internet would appear on your TV, your car dashboard, mobile phones, handheld consoles and even your microwave.
She pretty much got it down to a T. In a world where we can get our fridge to order our weekly shopping every time it’s running low, the ‘future’ of the internet is here and now.
Web design has changed leaps and bounds from back in the day. As you can access the internet from pretty much any device, designs have to be responsive and flow between whatever device you choose to look at it from. Before, blocks of text were completely acceptable, but now people want clean responsive web design that fits in with current trends and styles, and not just thrown together on a free Geocities (Tripod) account.
Activity 2 – Legal and statutory controls
Websites are very susceptible to copyright infringement. There’s many factors that come in to play here, people can easily copy and paste your content with no reference to your work. Images are downloaded and used ‘illegally’ thousands of times a day.
Thanks to the Berne convention, the copyright is automatic whether you state that the content is copyrighted or not. The use of copyright notices will defer people from using your content illegally, but all-in-all, if it’s on the internet then there’s a fair chance it will get stolen and used with no credits or rights going towards the creator, designer, copywriter.
Designing websites for third-parties is a different matter. It’s very important for the client to understand how intellectual property works, and how that property can transfer ownership.
Where content is involved, if the client requires images to be used in the design then all appropriate licenses must be obtained and not grabbed off a Google image search to ensure the site is completely legal.
When designing websites, however unlikely, you need to protect your interests against clients unwilling to pay for work you’ve completed for them. By keeping the rights to the intellectual property until fully paid.
This ties in well with a few new business models for web design which allow users to pay monthly for their website. Instead of paying £3000 for a website straight off the bat, the client can pay a £300 deposit, and then 22 monthly payments of £150. However in this case the actual intellectual property would not be transferred until full payment was received, and if a client stops paying then the designer will have full rights to pull that website down until payment begins again.
Activity 3 – Health and Safety
Health and safety in the workplace is a big deal. When it comes to web design specifically there isn’t really any regulations that target that, but when we can use the regulations for working in an office type job to transfer over. The basics are being able to have good posture. You should not have to slouch to use your computer or laptop. The desk should also be about arm height, with a gap in front of the keyboard to rest your wrists whilst typing.
Activity 4 – Business & Financial Support
There’s plenty of support and advice to be found out there for Web Designers. If you’re looking at starting your own company then Business Gateway are the go to guys for the job. They provide you with free advice with a business advisor to flesh out your ideas and help with your business plan. Once you’ve gotten your business plan ready to go then you can apply for a grant from them, you do have to explain yourself and your business proposition to a panel, but it’s a lot less formal than applying for a loan at the bank.
Banks do provide great start-up loans for small businesses and firms, you have to know exactly what you need that money for, be it capital investment or hire-purchase for expensive assets.
In a totally different vein of it, competitions are a great way of getting your work out there. 99designs is a great website for this. Potential clients upload their briefs and requirements and you pit your designs against others. Whilst it’s not the best for guaranteed work, it will give you a great understanding of how clients work and what they expect.
Activity 5 – Unions, services, professional associations
There’s no official ‘union’ for web design, but there are plenty of resources out there for web designers to help through the difficult decisions. The UK Web Designers Association provides free legal documentation for a variety of circumstances.
There’s also premium services that allow better advertising,
However when it comes to pricing, there isn’t really a ‘go to’ guide on how much a website should cost. There’s plenty of people talking about it though, friendly communities and bloggers are available to help. Especially when trying to break into the scene it’s fairly difficult to just ‘know’ what to charge, and you may not be confident enough in your ability to charge what people say ‘professionals’ charge in the field.