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Web Development

Web development is composed of three disciplines:

  • Content
  • Functionality
  • Design

Perhaps you think design should be first but the truth is, its the last consideration. 

First, you should focus on content. What you say and how you say it is the most important concern when building a site. 

Three parts of a web project: content, design, and functionality

Content is what helps search engines find your web site in the first place and brings visitors back time and again. Content contributes to your web site's "stickiness" so that users dig deeper and deeper into your site to find what they need.  

As they say, content is king but context is queen. In other words, good writing is important but good web writing is essential to keeping the visitor moving. A good article on writing is located here.  

Functionality is the second consideration. The days of posting an on-line version of your company brochure as your web presence have long-since past. Your site must engage the visitor, help them find the information they need, and keep them coming back. 

We use Open Source technologies, such as html, PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, AJAX, Flash, and PDF to create dynamic pages. 

The most important parts of a web site are invisible.

A web presence is more than an electronic brochure. More than pretty design and well-crafted words. In fact, the "look" of a Web site is one of the least important aspects of your Web presence.

Much more important is whether or not your Web site is optimized for searches, whether or not people can find things on your site, and whether or not the site is able to be easily updated, so that it is relevant on a daily basis to your business or cause.

That is why we work on the back-end first, understanding that the design of the site (or front end) can be changed to meet individual preferences. Here is the way we create a site:

  1. Develop a site map that reflects the overall organization of the site. The skeleton of the site, if you will. That means that you want to make sure that no page is an orphan and the design is fundamentally rationale. That's just logical. But there is another reason to build your site map: so that Google and other search engines can easily index it. They can use the sitemap page to collect information about the entire site. And that's good. You can do this by hand but there are automated on-line tools that can help you do this, too.
  2. Develop a navigation system that aids movement throughout the site and prevents visitors from getting lost within the site. Breadcrumbs could be important here.
  3. Develop content that is compelling to visitors and encourages repeat visits (and registration to access inside information, if applicable).
  4. Add a search engine to make sure that visitors can find what they are looking for. Of course, in smaller sites, a public site map page with links does the trick but it must be regularly updated. A search engine solves that problem.
  5. Develop a content management system that allows authorized users to update information and add new pages.
  6. Optimize your site for search engine success. No one can reasonably promise that your site will appear at the top of Google's home page but optimization means that you can make it a lot easier for your users to find your site and its content.
  7. Write some strong content. Or get someone to do it for you. Web writing is an art and a science. Study the ways that writers put key words on top and develop short, action sentences. Get some help if you need to make sure you get this right. Follow the 3-30-3 rule.
  8. Develop a look and feel and a color scheme that matches your corporate image so that all marketing elements work together to reinforce your brand. We have found that it is productive to use good templates, like those from Theme Forest. Well-built themes accommodate some customization that can make it yours. That eliminates the cost and difficulty of starting from scratch. Put your money into what matters.
  9. Test your site for friendliness and usability. Does your code conform to official html markup? Is it attractive and welcoming to those you perceive as your target audience? See if your mother-in-law can find her way around the site. A newspaper is usually created at an eighth grade level. You should probably think about this.

Follow these suggestions and you will have a great Web site. And, let us help. We can help you through the hard stuff and make it easy to build a winning project.

Here's a good article from Smashing magazine on elements of good web site design.

See article on why ugly hardworking Web sites are sometimes more successful that pretty useless ones.

See this article on creating a great homepage from SmashingShare magazine.

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