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One of the most depressing realities of being a web designer is looking back at the nice shiny and perfectly presented site you handed over to a client a few months earlier, to discover that it has been ‘updated’ by them. This can range from slight annoyance, to abject horror. Very rarely do I get a pleasant surprise.

Scary man

This handover culture simply has too many unaesthetic realities. It has been an endemic part of the web design industry since I began in the 90’s. Unlike other design industries, the web is dynamic and not set or fixed at a specific point in time. There is no final print ready version, no gold master, no ‘final’ release. The website is a living organism which can be tinkered with, played with and very easily spoilt by someone who thinks they know what they are doing.

Web Design Agencies are not simply expensive robots, to be paid for their services for a one-time ‘fix’ and then abandoned for an indefinite period -in which you simply find your own pleasure. It’s never going to be that good again, however good you think your imagination is.

I want to care for your site – like I cared about the design I put my time, my thought, my energy and my heart into. I don’t want it to be taken from me and then destroyed by someone who doesn’t share my understanding or passion.

I want to be proud to use your URL on my portfolio. But I’m not sure I trust you.

I am unsure whether next time I look if I will be pleasantly surprised or deeply wounded by what you have placed there. What hideous and clashing font have you selected at random, what garish colour have you discovered so items stand out. Why have you used so much text pushing everything out of alignment, why didn’t you use my Photoshop template to produce that particular kind of image as was indicated in the style guide you paid for.

I gave you the power to keep your site up-to-date. And yet you have dated it within months, all alone. You have destroyed what you paid me to do. This has made me deeply unhappy. This has made me feel like we both wasted our time, I am wasting my life and you wasted your money.

It really cannot continue like this. We must find a new way of working as long-term partners.

I want you to let me consider your site, keep it fresh, keep it visually current. It may only involve a few graphical tweaks. Let me care about it and develop it as your business changes and metamorphoses. I want to help your site dynamically change with you.

Don’t be offended when I say you don’t know what you are doing. You don’t. That’s why you paid me. You paid me to represent you online to the eyes of the world.

I couldn’t build a nice new front door for my house, if I tried it would probably be an embarrassment to the street. If I thought the whole world could see, I wouldn’t consider the idea for a single moment. Especially after paying so much to have the house built in the first place.

Yes, and I’ll be perfectly honest; I really do want to keep my online portfolio safe from unpleasant surprises too. I would love to not just show images, but living, breathing websites. My work has to attract new clients at some point too. Such is life.

Please don’t make me tear any more hair out, it’s in very short supply.