Business Websites

Business Websites

Professional web design services by our web experts. eCommerce, Facebook, Twitter, Mobile & iPad compatible.

 

 

 

Website planning
 

Before creating and uploading a website it is important to take the time to plan exactly what is required.

Thoroughly considering the audience or target market, as well as defining the purpose and deciding what content will be developed is extremely important.

 

Context
 
Web design is similar (in a very simplistic way) to traditional print publishing. Every website is an information display container, just like a book; and every web page is like the page in a book. However, web design uses a framework based on digital code and display technology to construct and maintain a platform to distribute information in multiple formats.

Taken to its fullest extent, web design is undoubtedly the most sophisticated and increasingly complex communication tool in the world today.


 
Purpose
 
As one of the first steps in the planning process it is essential to define the purpose of the website. A purpose statement should define what the website will accomplish and what the users will get from it.

A clearly defined purpose will help the rest of the planning process as the audience is identified and the content of the site is developed. Setting short and long term goals for the website will help make the purpose clear, and creates a foundation to plan for the future when expansion, modification, and improvement will take place. Measurable objectives should be identified to track the progress of the site and determine success.

 

Audience
 
Defining the audience is a key step in the website planning process. The audience is the group of people who are expected to visit your website – the market being targeted.

These people will be viewing the website for a specific reason and it is important to know exactly what they are looking for when they visit the site.

A clearly defined purpose or goal of the site, as well as an understanding of what visitors want to do or feel when they come to your site, will help to identify the target audience.

When considering who is most likely to need or use your website content, compile a list of characteristics common to your users such as:

  • Audience Characteristics
  • Information Preferences
  • Computer Specifications
  • Web Experience
     

Taking into account the characteristics of the audience will allow an effective website to be created to deliver the desired content to the target audience.

 

Compatibility and restrictions
 
Because of the market share of modern browsers (depending on your target market), the compatibility of your website with the viewers is restricted. For example, a website that is designed for the majority of websurfers will be limited to the use of valid XHTML 1.0 Strict or older, Cascading Style Sheets Level 1, and 1024x768 display resolution.

This is because Internet Explorer is not fully W3C standards compliant with the modularity of XHTML 1.1 and the majority of CSS beyond 1. A target market of more alternative browser (e.g. Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari and Opera) users allow for more W3C compliance and thus a greater range of options for a web designer.
 
Another restriction on webpage design is the use of different image file formats. The majority of users can support GIF, JPEG, and PNG (with restrictions). Again Internet Explorer is the major restriction here, not fully supporting PNG's advanced transparency features, resulting in the GIF format still being the most widely used graphic file format for transparent images.
 
Many website incompatibilities go unnoticed by the designer and unreported by the users. The only way to be certain a website will work on a particular platform is to test it on that platform.

 

Planning documentation
 
Documentation is used to visually plan the site while taking into account the purpose, audience and content, to design the site structure, content and interactions that are most suitable for the website.

Documentation may be considered a prototype for the website – a model which allows the website layout to be reviewed, resulting in suggested changes, improvements and/or enhancements. This review process increases the likelihood of success of the website.
 
The first step may involve information architecture in which the content is categorized and the information structure is formulated. The information structure is used to develop a document or visual diagram called a site map. This creates a visual of how the web pages or content will be interconnected, and may help in deciding what content will be placed on what pages.
 
In addition to planning the structure, the layout and interface of individual pages may be planned using a storyboard. In the process of storyboarding, a record is made of the description, purpose and title of each page in the site, and they are linked together according to the most effective and logical diagram type. Depending on the number of pages required for the website, documentation methods may include using pieces of paper and drawing lines to connect them, or creating the storyboard using computer software.

 

Website design
 
In some ways web design is different from traditional print publishing. Every website is an information display container, just as a book is a container; and every web page is like the page in a book. However the end size and shape of the web page is not known to the web designer, whereas the print designer will know exactly what size paper he will be printing on. [4]
 
For typical websites, the basic aspects of design are:

The content: the substance, and information on the site should be relevant to the site and should target the audience that the website is concerned with.

The usability: the site should be user-friendly, with the interface and navigation simple and reliable.

The appearance:
the graphics and text should include a single style that flows throughout, to show consistency. The style should be professional, appealing and relevant.

The structure: of the website as a whole.
 
A website typically consists of text, images, animation and /or video. The first page of a web site is known as the Home page or Index Page. Some web sites use what is commonly called a Splash Page. Splash pages might include a welcome message, language or region selection, or disclaimer, however search engines, in general, favor web sites that don't do this which has caused these types of pages to fall out of favor. Each web page within a website is a file which has its own URL.

After each web page is created, they are typically linked together using a navigation menu composed of hyperlinks.
 
Once a web site is completed, it must be published or uploaded in order to be viewable to the public over the internet. This may be done using an FTP client.

 

Multidisciplinary requirements
 
Website design crosses multiple disciplines and multiple information systems, information technology, marketing, and communication design. The website is an information system whose components are sometimes classified as front-end and back-end. The observable content (e.g. page layout, user interface, graphics, text, audio) is known as the front-end.

The back-end comprises the organization and efficiency of the source code, invisible scripted functions, and the server-side components that process the output from the front-end.

Depending on the size of a web development project, it may be carried out by a multi-skilled individual (sometimes called a web master), or a project manager may oversee collaborative design between group members with specialized skills. 

 

Environment
 
Layout is a double edged sword: on the one hand, it is the expression of a framework that actively shapes the web designer. On the other hand, as the designer adapts that framework to projects, layout is the means of content delivery.

Publishing a web engages communication throughout the production process as well as within the product created. Publication implies adaptation of culture and content standards. Web design incorporates multiple intersections between many layers of technical and social understanding, demanding creative direction, design element structure, and some form of social organization. Differing goals and methods resolve effectively in the successful deployment of education, software and team management during the design process. However, many competing and evolving platforms and environments challenge acceptance, completion and continuity of every design product.

 

Collaboration
 
Early web design was less integrated with companies’ advertising campaigns, customer transactions, extranets, intranets and social networking. Web sites were seen largely as static online brochures or database connection points, disconnected from the broader scopes of a business or project.

Many websites are still disconnected from the broader project scope. As a result, many we sites are needlessly difficult to use, indirect in their way of communicating, and suffer from a 'disconnected' or ineffective bureaucratic information architecture.

 

Form versus function
 
A web developer may pay more attention to how a page looks while neglecting other copywriting and search engine optimization functions such as the readability of text, the ease of navigating the site, or how easily the visitors are going to find the site. As a result, the designers may end up in disputes where some want more decorative graphics at the expense of keyword-rich text, bullet lists, and text links.

Assuming a false dichotomy that form and function are mutually exclusive overlooks the possibility of integrating multiple disciplines for a collaborative and synergistic solution. In many cases form follows function. Because some graphics serve communication purposes in addition to aesthetics, how well a site works may depend on the graphic design ideas as well as the professional writing considerations.
 
When using a lot of graphics, or sending a lot of instructions to the end client computer, a web page may load slowly, often irritating the user. This has become less of a problem as the internet has evolved with high-speed internet and the use of vector graphics. However there is still an ongoing engineering challenge to increase bandwidth and an artistic challenge to minimize the amount of graphics and their file sizes. This challenge is compounded since increased bandwidth encourages more graphics with larger file sizes.


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