Susan Snipes / Posted 7.1.2017
Why I don’t care that my websites will never win any design awards
We’ve been creating websites at Q Digital Studio since 2005. Over the years, we’ve designed and built hundreds of websites, and during that time, we’ve never won a design award for our work. And I don’t think we ever will.
Are we doing something wrong?
My team and I are not bad designers. Our sites have been called “pixel-perfect, elegant and beautiful.” In fact, I’ve been endorsed for web design on LinkedIn more than twice as often as I’ve been endorsed for any other category.
My formal education is a blend of fine art, art history and architecture, but I’ve been in web design since 1998. While in school, I picked up freelance projects and self-taught my way into getting hired at a “new media” house after graduation. Around that time, I surrounded myself with designers, wanting to be one of them. I long identified as a designer, wanting to most closely align with the visual side of websites. I’ve been heavily involved in AIGA - the professional association for design, including sitting on the executive board. I taught web design classes and workshops at RMCAD (Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design) and Metropolitan State University of Denver.
For me, design matters.
I am proud of my design-thinking. But good design does not necessarily equate to winning a slew of awards. Sure, winning an award would be cool. But awards aren’t the reason I do the work I’m doing, nor building the company I’m building.
Are there awards for websites that deliver the highest ROI? Or websites that have transformed a company’s customer satisfaction? Or how about a business with the happiest employees?
Design is important, no doubt. But I want to be hired for what I consider the right reasons:
- Can we solve your website problem?
- Can we help you increase your web leads?
- Do we share similar values?
- Can we showcase your work in a way that represents you?
- Can we improve your customer happiness?
- Can we streamline your website to save you time?
Focusing on winning an award is distracting
from the real purpose of creating websites.
We don't create websites to make our portfolio look good or experiment on someone else's dime. We’re not one of those kinds of organizations. We’re creating websites to solve our client partners problems.
We care about clean, professional, simple, problem-solving websites. Sites where you can find an answer to your question quickly. Our focus is on building a site really well. That means using Responsive Web Design. That means making a site accessible with higher-than-required accessibility standards. That means creating a clear, clean, simple user experience. That means optimizing a site for fast load times. Ultimately it means creating a website that provides our client partners what they need to communicate and work with their constituents and customers. It does not mean provoking customers with a cutting-edge design. In fact, I’d rather them not notice the website, other than to say: “That was a great experience. I found what I needed. It just worked. It was easy.”
When I hear things like “Our site is so much easier and smoother to update than our last site, it makes site maintenance a joy,” and that we are “a pleasure to work with throughout the entire process,*” that is all of the reinforcement I need to know that we are creating an award-worthy website.
*Actual client quotes
“Susan and her team are some of the most professional, organized, and creative people I have ever worked with.”
“Their work has been organized, efficient, creative and consistent.”
“They harvest a constant flow of creative imagery, maintain superb attention to detail and easily find creative solutions.”
President and Founder
Susan Snipes is the founder and president of Q Digital Studio. As a community-minded web entrepreneur, developer, and ExpressionEngine expert, Susan’s innovative approach to the web has benefited well-known companies and organizations ranging from technology, healthcare, education, nonprofits, local and regional governments, and more. For more thoughts on entrepreneurship, leadership, and inclusivity in technology, follow her on twitter @SusanSnipes.