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Would you let your Nephew design your brochure...

... then why do you think he can design a website?

     
9:49 am on Jul 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

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How to get this idea accross the people that think that their website looks good because their nephew thinks he can design a professional web page?

Leo

12:28 pm on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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"Give nephews a chance. They are tomorrow's webmasters." :-)

We could easily slip off topic with this ;) because there are other issues.

I think the bare bones of the thread is that the 'pro' web designer is not going to get the job because the business owner's nephew is doing it for 'experience'.

That's all fine and in the whole scheme of things it is good experience.

The scales are wavering on commercial values V family values.

Commercially, it isn't a good move to let a complete novice cobble up your flagship website.

Family wise, it's a good thing to do.

Where it can go sour is that the site makes the business look bad - cammercially it can be suicide.

Family wise, how do you get out of it?

My solution is to put young Billy on a project ... a nice new website with a harmless domain, then deploy the skills of a pro to repair the flagship website and act as mentor to Billy.

.........and everybody lived happy ever after, expecially Billy because he set up his own software empire which accidently became a plaform for 99% of all computers sold, but that becomes another 'Once Upon A TIme'. :)

1:50 pm on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I work for a small company, about 30% of which are all old buddies who hired each other etc. etc. They're gradually phasing out the old buddies and hiring new people from different cultural and religious backgrounds, because as business gets tougher they're finding out that professionals instead of friends are more cost-effective.
I'm all for a little nepotism now and then. It makes sense. If you're going to play favorites, at least be transparent about it. But the key is to play favorites like that in areas that won't hurt your business. Here, a particular relative of one of the company owners is in a crucial position, that he screws up all the time. I think that's bad, and the relative needs to be "promoted" to a different area where he can't cause any damage. Which is key to nepotism...

I think that webpages and Internet presences in general are gradually being rethought as the Internet gains legitimacy, and there will be fewer and fewer instances of The Village Idiot* Webmaster (well, he couldn't get a real job, so I gave him a nice job doing my company's website). Which is good for all us pros. Likewise, there will be more and more personal sites out there for The Village Idiot Webmaster to get his start on, so hopefully he can get some experience and become a little smarter before he tries to do the company website.
Being a (somewhat) Idiot Webmaster myself, I have mixed feelings about that, but then again, I'm hoping to grow out of it.

_____
* A little disclaimer: "the village idiot" is a reference to Tom Lehrer's song "My Home Town": "He was the village idiot,/ and though it seems a pity it/ was so.../ He used to burn down houses just to see the glow/ And nothing could be done because he was the mayor's son." I mean no disrespect to mentally-handicapped people; I used to have a lot of contact with a small group of them and they were on the whole the sweetest, bravest people I've ever known.

2:38 pm on July 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I don't quite consider myself the total newbie "nephew" anymore, but I'm sure glad I never got anything live up to about a year ago. I shudder when I look back on what I thought was "good web design".
2:42 pm on July 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Fads and fashion change, I'm pretty sure whatever you do today, you'll look at in different light tommorrow.
3:45 pm on July 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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The first site I ever designed was for a friend's business in 1996. At the time I was going to be a full partner in the profits, but we changed that and I went into web development on my own. The site is still online, still making money, and he hasn't touched it -- embaarrasing to me if anyone ever does a View Source and sees all that hacked up code. But the basic look and functionality of my first site was OK then and it's OK now.

My point being that some people CAN self-educate and do a darned good job of it. One of my clients hired the owner's son to do their European site, and it was his first effort. He did OK as well.

My biggest problem with nepotism has been people who plan to keep the work in the family, but present themselves as a prospect just so they can "pick my brains". That's why I no longer do free proposals. At least they can pay me a consultant's fee if they want my knowledge, and I offer thaty option right up front.

But I am all for giving the nephew a chance.

9:21 am on July 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

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We all need tht break, sadly it's too easy to become a primadonna instead of learning from those experienced. We're all proabably guilty of that too ;)

cff51259

2:11 pm on July 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think the main point here is "Professional vs Amateur", whether the amateur is someone's nephew or not is irrelevant. The point is: are websites generally poorly designed because the industry is not mature enough? Or is website training and/or experience still not at the level that will result in improved quality of website design? As an IT manager who has been around since before the internet even existed I see time and time again websites designed by mere technies. Some of the sites are brilliant (more by accident than design) but most are terrible. And the reason is that the only criteria for being recognised as a "professional" in this industry is the level of technical ability from an application tools point of view. At the risk of treading on (what I can hear from the messages posted are already tender and inflated egos) let me say that if we can teach the technies some of the basic technical communications theory & best practices as taught in most degree courses in universities anywhere in the world then they can emerge as solid communications practioners and not just technies who convert information in viewable pages for bulk consumption.
6:08 pm on July 21, 2003 (gmt 0)

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A lot of bosses task an individual with website design because they know something about computers!
5:17 am on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I'm a bit late spotting this post but i just gotta reply...

I believe people are sceptical about web designers...it's obvious why of course, but the point is they do not hire web designers they hire someone who has an edge.

I'm developing an edge/image as a results focused designer.

I tell clients anyone can design a website. All they need is an internet connection. Making a site work raises the curve dramatically.

10:19 am on Aug 17, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for this thread. It is good to have a ready list to respond to the argument 'our nephew does it'.

But while it is good to have these arguments at the ready, my thoughts are that the issue is just another example of disruptive technology, which I think is a good thing. By that I mean that GUI html editors have made it easier to develop websites, which allows people to self-service. This allows the true professionals to focus on more advanced areas of technologies or design, such as content management, SEO, browser compatibility, cutting edge graphics, etc. The result is a general increase in the quality and volume of the industry. It also helps segment the industry, which allows specialists to create their niche. So I don't think it is bad.

I realise my views in this respect are in direct opposition to some of the posts above. For example, I don't agree with the attitude expressed by the following post. If all participants in the market have this sort of attitude, the total global market cannot grow.

... If the site is a boxed template... send a collection to the bossman. It takes the kudos away from that little prima donna ...

My argument is that if 'the bossman' is happy, then 'the little prima donna' did a good job; and if he did it quickly and cheaply with a template, then all the more kudos to him. And it leaves us pro's more time to service clients who want more advanced services, such as integration with their inventory systems, etc.

Other examples of disruptive technologies are:

  • You no longer need to go to the doctor for a pregnancy test. Doctors don't complain about that and say 'if you really want a proper, professional test you have to come in to the surgery.
  • Accounting software has made it easier for a small company to do most of its book-keeping itself. Accountants don't complain; they applaud this.
  • By using the 'wizards' that come bundled with the office software suites, anyone can knock up a small database without employing a software development company.

So my view is that if the nephew does a bad job, that is an obvious area of opportunity. But if he does a good job, that is OK too, and part of how technology advances, and hence part of what creates our livelihood.

Shawn

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