People who work in Web development invariably come into the profession from a varied career path, and Stefan Gillard is no exception. Now head of Interactive Services at Spike, Stefan Gillard started doing freelance copywriting work. Gillard's first pay cheque was spent on a computer, on which he taught himself Photoshop and other programs. Eventually, he started his own design and print layout company, producing kiosks, CDs, corporate profiles, Web sites and animation.
He worked for a Web and CD development company for 14 months as a senior technical producer responsible for project management, before joining Spike three months ago.
There is no doubt Gillard has some strong ideas on the criteria necessary for a successful Web site. He believes it starts with the information architecture used to manage the user's experience.
Gillard said, "If you have not thought through how users can access the site easily, then your site will fail. A Web site has to cater for the three types of users: the beginner who is dipping their toe in, the browser who is familiar with the Web and can competently click their way around, and the power user who really knows all the short cuts. A Web designer, developer and producer use a variety of techniques to cater for all of these users through the personalisation of the site to make the information relevant to each user."
Gillard sites Amazon.com as a prime example and hammers the point that users need to be engaged. Planning and being able to see what lies ahead for at least the next 12 months are prerequisites.
"A Web site is not static and will always need to be updated to remain relevant," he said.