Specialty: Website Strategist / Developer
Team member since: 2008
Fifth in our team interview series, is Peter King –– mild mannered website designer by day, code crunching developer by night, and owner of Peter King Design –– a creative website design and development firm in Austin, TX.
Peter’s knowledge, sensitivities, and counsel has kept our clients’ websites relevant in the ever-changing world of web design, experience, and interface. He is a truly invaluable asset to the team and each client.
- Patience of a saint
- Night Owl
- Web wiz
Q: As a website developer, how do you approach clients about a Content Management System (CMS)?
I’ve developed in several platforms over the years, primarily Drupal, Joomla, Silverstripe and WordPress. Each have their own strengths, but typically I lean towards WordPress and believe 90% of websites can use this platform. It has the largest community, the most plugins, and its faster development time keeps costs down. However, for more complex sites, I typically recommend Drupal or Joomla.
New do-it-yourself systems like Wix and Squarespace certainly offer clients cheaper solutions and have their place in the world, but these options have limitations on scalability and customization, and the do-it-yourself model isn’t as easy as do-it-yourselfers realize. These pre-built themes drive the brand rather than the brand driving the web design and user experience (UX). Our focus is on custom solutions for clients, and putting them in a CMS like WordPress gives them a unique solution tailored to their needs. This allows for a customized theme where the UX drives the user interface (UI) and design for their customers. On the back end, the system is built to exact editing specifications and is not overbuilt or overloaded with extraneous tools that will never be used.
For a developer, a good CMS offers speed, endless options, and scalability, and benefits the client by giving them the ability to maintain their own content. I believe in client independence and encourage them to maintain as much control over their site as they are able to handle.
Q: People often conflate the website terms “User Experience” (UX) and “User Interface” (UI). Can you explain the difference and why they are both so important?
A: I agree the terms User Experience and User Interface are often misunderstood or misinterpreted. They sound similar and both are important to the design process, however each have their own purpose. The UX is really the larger design umbrella, and the UI is only a part of it. Ultimately, they both work together to create a great A to Z experience for the guest or customer, which is the ultimate goal.
A designer begins with the User Experience to establish every step the user will take in their online (and offline) interaction with the brand. Through interviews, brainstorming, research, studies, copy writing, prototyping and testing, a UX designer establishes a satisfying A to Z experience for the user. In coordination with the UX, the User Interface designer will use the UX structure to design the layout, menus, links, branding, and content on a website or app.
A User Experience may start with ads, emails, SEO, videos or other inbound/outbound marketing campaigns to link a user to a website, landing page, or app. A successful User Experience continues with the User Interface, funneling the user towards a purchase, information, contact, or submission with the brand. Now the brand has a relationship with the user which should be maintained with further engagement and communication. The cooperation between UX and UI results in a successful interaction with the user.
“I believe in client independence and encourage them to maintain as much control over their site as they are able to handle.“
Q: Knowing Website Conversion is important today, what questions do you ask a client early on in the Observation and Discovery phase?
A: Honestly, I am very cautious approaching this with clients, but I do ask a number of questions early on. The amount of work involved for both the designer and the client in developing a website often exceeds their expectations. Clients expect that an optimized website will automatically get the leads flowing in. Easy, right? Well, it’s so much more than that in today’s digital world.
First, can you maintain the campaign? If not, we’ll do it. Do you have a writer, blogger, or vlogger available? No? We got that too!
We need an incentive. What can you offer the user?
Now we need to get them to your website. How do you market to your customers? Great! Here’s what we recommend.
Finally, after successfully making contact with the customer, what will you do with the conversion?
Q: What would you tell potential clients about the value of hiring a professional photographer for improving their website’s brand experience?
A: Now we’re back to creating the User Experience. As part of this process, the designer needs to determine how photography will be used on the website. Often the budget won’t allow a professional photographer, and the process is dependent on stock photos or the client’s own internal photos which usually lack aesthetic and direction. Stock photos are plentiful, beautiful, and frequently meet the needs of the UX, but they also lack continuity, uniqueness, and brand authenticity. A professional photographer, on the other hand, brings a unique style, consistency, and brand familiarity to the photos. Photography is almost always the largest and most identifiable piece of the website. A custom photo’s scale, composition, and uniqueness leaves a strong impression on the customer that is often absent with other photo sources.
Q: Any words of wisdom for clients who say they are going to generate their own written messaging, and not hire a professional?
A: Be honest. Write about your business. Be the expert. Find topics interesting to your customers. Optimize and promote. And, most importantly, find the time!
The number one obstacle I run into with clients writing their own content internally is time. They often have big dreams of being able to handle the scope of writing all the content for a website or continually writing blog and news stories. Some can handle it, some cannot, and many often hand it back to us to assist.
Ultimately, I encourage my clients to write to their audience and customers. They are the experts and should showcase their knowledge in their field. When writing, clients need to be honest and consistent to the website. Search engines are more semantic and view content in its entirety. Therefore, optimizing is less about specific keywords like SEO of yesteryear. Now, even though keywords are still relevant, it is more important that they are consistent with the site and in terms users actually use during their search. I offer different levels of optimization and social media training with clients to show how to optimize the page or blog and promote the site across their social media platforms or through email marketing, which is important.
Q: How has your collaboration with Janke helped clients over the years?
A: First, I am grateful to entire team. They are an extraordinary group of creatives, and over the past ten years we’ve worked together, we’ve developed and collaborated on many great projects. Janke historically focused on the complete integrated branding and communication design campaigns and as clients kept approaching them for web services, they needed a partner. That’s where I came in. I helped facilitate the expansion to web services with my background in web design, UX/UI design, web development, SEO, and multimedia. With the addition of the other members of our team, we became a full service marketing firm to meet all the needs clients will have.
A case in point has been our collaboration for Retirement Center Management. RCM manages numerous retirement centers across the south. Not only did RCM need a web presence, but so did many of their retirement centers. After years of maintaining separate websites for RCM and each additional property, we needed a more efficient and cost-effective solution. We developed a platform using WordPress’s Multipress which allowed us to manage all the properties from one CMS. The properties all share a common CMS and theme while still maintaining the ability to customize the brand for each website. This makes updates and new features much faster and economical since one update modifies all the property websites.
Q: Free-time, unrelated to work, what do you enjoy doing?
A: I’m sorry, did you say free time? I vaguely remember having free time once upon a time, but now I have three kids, 8 to 12 years old, and they are my so-called free time. I love coaching sports, and my goal as a father has always been to coach at least one (sometimes two) of my kids’ teams each season. I’ve spent many years now coaching soccer, flag football, baseball, and volleyball. Not only is it fun, but it’s a chance to spend time with my kids and invest in their lives. Other than that, I love movies or quality television shows that help me decompress from my hectic schedule.