Become The Alpha Dog

Building My New Website

Introduction

The term ‘Web Design’ creates a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. The word design suggests graphics and layout so many people think that’s what designing a website is all about. Most people think that website design is very simple, all you need to do is install the company logo, add the relevant wording, decide on the arrangement of the pages and that’s it.

Well I am about to shock you by outlining the many complicated processes involved in web design. Think of it this way; when an architect designs a house all we see is the way he lays out the rooms, how the available space is arranged. We normally do not concern ourselves with the amount of technical detail that goes into the design. The architect has to work out the stresses on the walls and the weight of the roof. If there are fireplaces he has to know about draughts and the shape of chimney for it to do the job. He has to plan heating systems, plumbing systems, drainage and sewage, what type of windows to use, door fittings and many other details so that when it’s finally complete the overall effect is pleasing and suitable for the purpose intended. Web design is similar. A customer may have an idea of the layout of the website but will need the services of the Web Designer to make it all happen.

Stages in the Process

There are many items to be decided on before even starting to build a website. Some of the important questions to consider are:

Who’s the target audience?

What’s the purpose of the website?

Do you want it to be found by the search engines?

What is the domain name for the site?

What links need to be in place?

What type of graphics do you want to use?

Do you want to include photographs?

Do you want a system of monitoring visitors to the website?

Once the webmaster has the answers to these questions then he can start the process of designing the site to give you what you want.

Target Audience

What sort of people are going to visit the new website? Are your customers likely to be businesses, sales people, home owners, parents, teenagers or children and so on?

Objectives of the Website

Is the website to be used to sell products on line, or to market your business to get leads for new customers? Maybe you wanted it to be an online brochure to showcase your products. Balloons for trade have a website for resellers only so that they can look up the products before placing an order. Because there is no selling on line there are no contact details on the site. You may want to use the website to foster a community to be in contact with other like minded people. You would need a design that incorporates a chat rooms and online discussions.

Being found on the Web

An important question to ask, before getting too far along with a project, is how you want your website to be found on the web. This involves a whole process of establishing keywords for your products or services. The first step is a search of key words in the industry. Finding the best keywords is vital if you want to be in the top ten listed in Google. By using a keyword research tool you can find the single most popular keyword; the one everyone puts in. For example people looking for a vacuum cleaner might type in Hoover although this is in fact a brand name.

Domain Names

Domain names can be the hardest part of setting up your website, because nearly every name you come up with will most certainly have been taken already. By far the most popular are domain names ending in .com as they are internationally recognised. For that reason alone the majority of shorter names will already have been registered.
Choosing names with endings such as .net; .co.uk .org .info may provide you with the domain name of your preference. When choosing your domain name it is a good idea to include one or more of your keywords. Although the name of your business may be the obvious choice for a Domain Name, it is not necessarily site cialis the only option.

So as you can see choosing domain names and keywords right at the beginning of the project will determine how the site is constructed so that it is suitable for the purpose required.

A brand new domain name space has just been created.

Companies can now apply for their name in this brand new .tel name space and it is intended to replace the telephone directory. When the domain name is viewed in your web browser it will provide the companies details and telephone number.

Creating a Site Map

It is very important to have a site map to outline the pages on your website, e-commerce website or forum space. It shows the design and flow through the website so that when selling on line, items work in order such as; adding product to basket, entering delivery and billing address and on to making credit card payment. The site map helps to identify how user friendly the website is so that there are no difficulties in getting onto the site. Often the user name and password are set for the customer so there is no hindrance to achieving the initial sale.

Non e-commerce sites are easier because it is possible to receive enquiries by email, without publishing the email address on the website. By using a contact form you will avoid junk mail and also validate the information before you receive it. The aim is to create a balance between discouraging junk mail, and making it easy for the enquirer to use the site.

Links

An important consideration when designing a website are links. These can be links to other pages of content within your website, and links within the content of your website in the text, as well as links from the menu. Consideration has to be given to whether the links will open in a new window so you still have your original page open or will the new window replace the previous one.

The Copy

The copy is the words and visuals you want on your website. Having made decisions about the target market and relevant links, along with the keywords and using the site map information, the next stage is to decide what imagery you want displayed. A picture speaks a thousand words and remains in people’s memory far longer than just words. So images are important to reach your audience. Each image needs a caption which is the ‘most read’ words on the page after the title. The caption of an image need to be clickable so that when you click on a picture it takes you to the next stage of the sales process.

Design

The final design of the website is often the most difficult stage of the process because it’s subjective. In a large corporation, many people from various departments will have an input for their division. Everyone has their own ideas of what they think the site should look like and trying to gain a consensus can be a nightmare because not everybody will agree on the same things.

An in-house ecommerce web designer can be useful in these situations where changes are constantly being made, with an external agency the specification needs to be clearly worked out in advance of the work being started, and be allowed to progress to completion without changes being made, unless absolutely necessary.

Even then unless your ideas are workable in the medium, you may have difficulty getting something you like. Firstly to achieve a great design it is recommended you review other websites and find out what you like or dislike about them. Look at competitor’s websites to make sure your design will be an improvement on what is already in the market place.

Once you have done that you will need to create a design brief. The design brief should have a reference to the logo and any existing brand guidelines, colour schemes and fonts adding in any other relevant information.

Having done a design brief look for a suitable graphic designer. Choose your designer carefully, finding one who designs specifically for screen and the web to achieve the very best results. Beware of choosing a graphic designer who designs for different discipline such as print as they are very different processes. Look at other works the designer has done and decide whether or not you like their style.

Using several graphic designers is the best option if you are working in the big time and budget allows. Give each designer the same brief and request three concept designs from each one. The client might also do a design, even if it’s a scribble on the back of an envelope, there will then be ten concept designs. Get everyone together and choose the preferred elements from each design. Once the items you want are selected choose one graphic designer to workup the final artwork.

All parties need to agree on the final artwork before construction of the site begins. Consideration should be give to the fonts used for the titles and buttons etc. Fonts have to be licensed so if the designer has not supplied something then the developer will need a copy of the fonts to achieve the task. Professional graphic designers will usually provide the artworks in a layered Photoshop file so if titles are not going to be in plain text get the designer to also supply the fonts.

Production

At last all the preparation has been done and the site is ready to go into production. This is where it gets technical! You may not want to go into the detail in which case leave it to your Web Master to choose for you. There have to be decisions about what language to use, either Unix or Windows based, to build the website. Each have advantages and disadvantages with multiple variants but sites such as Ebay, Facebook, Google as well as other well known websites are built on Unix. Your website has to be built with the development language of your web host provider so that they are compatible.

Accessiblity and Compliance

These are current standards for website coding to insure that disabled users, such as the visually impaired, can still access all sections of the website.

Development

Development of the website is best done on the web server where the site will reside. Those involved in reviewing the work can then monitor work in progress and provide feedback throughout the development.

Unforeseen Items

As the site building progresses the customer suddenly thinks of something they must have. No matter how well the web master prepares and asks the client the right questions, there are always some last minute adjustments to the programme. The main aim is to minimise last minute additions because they aren’t calculated in and will generate extra costs and cause delays to the date of the website going live.

Going live

At last your site is up and running and you see the results of all the planning that has gone into the whole process. There is no substitute for real world testing so as soon as the site is live ask your friends and colleagues to view the website from their own computers and give comments.

Marketing

Once the site is up and running it’s time to turn your attention to promoting your products by submitting the site to the search engines, writing articles, and press releases and generating links from forums, blogs and other social networking spaces.

Reporting and Monitoring

Recently we have seen a fair few companies creating ecommerce websites to sell the new range of toy robots, obviously with Christmas 2009 now behind us these toys are bound to sell well throughout the whole year as birthday gifts, so reporting on these kinds of projects is essential. There is a huge value in collecting web stats on toy robots user to see how successful your marketing campaigns are.

Use a reliable statistics package such as Google Analytics or Web-Stat.com to collect and review website visitor data. All you will need is a small block of code inserted into each web page on your site to collect visitor information to help you assess the success of your products in near real time. Web-stat.com also monitors the website and alerts you by email and text message if the site goes down.

Conclusion

The title ‘Web Design’ is a bit misleading in that people often assume it means the graphic design on the home page and the branding of the product. Unless you are a computer expert, most people do not realise the amount of work that goes into designing and building of a website. Clients are not aware of the amount of complicated technical work necessary to build the systems that support what they want the website to do. In such a complex process anything that gets tacked on at the end will end up incurring more cost to your budget.

The degree of initial questioning is an indicator of how experienced your web designer is. Every aspect of the construction has to be decided upon before you even start the design. These things may sound very technical to us non techies but it is essential for the web designer to find out exactly what it is that you require so that everything can be costed accurately and built into the design from the beginning. The majority buy Ponstel online of splits between designer and client enevitably come about due to the project brief not being comprehensive enough, and that is the duty of the web designer or developer to get right, not the client.

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This post was written by admin on June 28, 2010

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