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Website Design Development

Website Design and Development

How to make sure you get the maximum return on your investment

There are several steps to take when starting your website design project. We have laid out the fundementals and things you need to know when choosing a website designer and developer.

Fundamentals of Website Design, Development and S.E.O Practices

Designing a website has several different levels/aspects and meanings depending upon the person and their respective knowledge on the topic. For some, designing a website means simply having their nephew throw something up on the internet that has pasted graphics and contact information. For others, website development is a strategic tool that when built right, provides a means to harness the internet as a valuable source for business. All too often I have seen the lack of understanding of all the components necessary for a successful website cause businesses to go bankrupt and or at the very least, not even show up as a searchable result within the search engines.

When selecting a Website Development Company asking the right questions is just as important as getting the right answers. In this article we will discuss the various levels of developing a website and what questions to ask of perspective design agencies. Purchasing a domain name, setting up a hosting account and getting a website online within 24 hours is a pretty simple task. With the onset of sophisticated automation systems and a brief understanding of a webpage and how it works most people can (with help from technical support) successfully upload a website with graphics and content. However, what most people don't know is that there is a huge difference between slapping some paint around on a canvas with the same tools as Picasso and still be able to produce what he did. Building a eye-engaging website, with content that appeals to your target audience and the search engines thus producing the results that you paid for requires a well established process implemented by trained professionals in an Industry that is rapidly becoming the new age of business where your competition most assuredly will work diligently to maintain highly searchable sites leaving your site unnoticed.

Search Engine Optimization is a process by which methodologies are applied before, during and after your project is complete. For maximum results, consulting with proven S.E.O. specialists even before your domain name is chosen will ultimately lead to a successful site implementation resulting in a far better ROI.

Step 1: Picking the right domain name

Here is an example of what you don't want to do. http://www.sellingkidstuffincrystalspringsmississippi.com. Urban legend states that if you have a long domain name with all your keywords you think consumers will type to find you, you would out rank your competitors. This most definitely would NOT be correct! Trying to remember a domain name that long and being able to be accurately typed out by your target audience correctly, spells disaster. A more appropriate name would be http://www.sellkidstuff.com. This domain name is shorter; producing less of a chance for misspells and is easy to remember. Plus it saves you on print costs. Keeping your domain name simple is best practice.

Another mistake commonly made is purchasing a domain name that is similar to your competitions. We are humans and we are bound to misspell even the simplest of words. If your domain name is similar to that of your competition and someone accidently types in your domain name accidently, often times the search engines will bring up a list of what they thought you meant to type. Where this can be disastrous is if your competition ranks higher than your site. When the search engine tries to correct the spelling usually the higher ranking site will get top pick thus eliminating the chance of the person getting to your site. Bottom line, look at what your competitors are doing before you decide on your domain name. Once you have chosen your domain name check to make sure that if spelled incorrectly what other sites will show up for those mistakes. Sometimes it's a good practice to purchase similar variations of your domain. Important Tip: If purchasing multiple domain names, make sure your web developer implements a 301 permanent redirect so that you are not penalized by the search engines for having duplicate content with having several domain names pointing to one site.

Step 2: Choosing a Secure Hosting Environment

Choosing a hosting provider for your website is at the top of the list of importance. Many hosting providers especially larger hosting companies have restrictions based on polices for the masses ran by a service center with limited or no access to the actual server your site sits on. This limits the owner or webmaster of the site to be able to access the server or more importantly to be able to run certain applications which may require more direct customizations to the server.

Another huge problem with hosting a site with the free hosting providers or hosting with the larger known companies is that at any given time there could be thousands of sites being hosted in a shared environment. To break this down more, imagine one house with 5 thousand people living in it all having to use the same mailing address. Well in the hosting world if one website owner decides to spam the neighborhood or internet with advertisements and one of those receiving individuals reports that spam site then that entire address to the server is blocked. How does this affect you? Well what if your website is sitting on a server that has five thousand other websites sitting on it and one of those five thousand decided to start a spamming email campaign. Once the I.P. address is flagged as spam then all websites sitting behind that one I.P. address are blocked.

Listed below are a few important questions to ask of your potential web hosting company:

  • Will they implement the services needed for your project around the requirements for your site?
  • Do they allow large email campaigns and spamming from their servers?
  • Is their servers maintained and checked daily for maximum output and site accessibility?
  • What type of server backup process do they have?
  • Do they provide static I.P. Addresses for a reasonable price?
  • Has their servers been black listed? Would they allow you to do a check?
  • What is their service up time percentage?
  • If you have a PDA or mobile phone do they offer IMAP email services?
  • Who has access to the servers? What type of redundancy and security do they provide?

Step 3: The Design of your website. The Look and Feel

Inexperienced website designers use Microsoft FrontPage and or Dreamweaver to design your site using the parameters of either software package to give your site its look. I want to make one thing clear; designing your website is different than developing your website! Though the two software tools just mentioned are excellent tools for the development of your site, the design of your site should be done with a professional design software program such as Adobe Photoshop or something comparable. The design or look and feel of your site is a very important part of the overall process. Several things need to be discussed before the designer hits the drawing board. This is where the S.E.O. strategist with both the owner of the project and designer of the site sit down and talk about the direction, path, goals and expectations of the site so that the designer can keep in mind future growth. Once the site is complete the Search Engine Optimization Specialist already has a solid foundation to build upon so that the Internet Marketing and the money spent advertising stands a chance against larger budgets and bigger teams of developers within the competitor realm.

The look and feel though important needs to be light, quick loading and easy to read. One of the first questions I would ask the designer is for a portfolio of work and page ranks. Nothing says success like proof of services. The design, if not methodically planned correctly can severely impact your search ability within the search engines. A qualified designer knows the how's, what's and tricks to design a beautiful site for your target audience and still keeping within the Search Engine Guidelines and Standards.

Here are a few questions I would keep in mind when looking for a web designer:

  • How many sites have they designed? Ask to see his or her portfolio.
  • Do they design for the latest trends?
  • Where does he find out what the latest trends are?
  • What type of research goes into his/her designs?
  • Are competitor site analysis done?
  • How many concepts will you get when you hire him/her?
  • What program does he or she use to design your site?
  • Will you get the files when complete?
  • Will the design be a custom design or will they be purchasing a template that will be modified for you?
  • Have they ever submitted the concept you received to any other client before?

Step 4: How to choose what platform you want your site developed on

Once your site has been designed it is now ready for the development stage. A critical aspect of this process would include the input of an S.E.O. Specialist. Based on your project requirements, a Search Engine Optimization expert will be able to explain to you the various platforms in which to build your site and will be able to recommend what is best for your project. Though a web developer would be up to date on the latest platforms, they may not know why you should choose one over the other. I suggest the input of your S.E.O. guy for the sole purpose of making sure you are hitting your goals set forth before the beginning of the project and that your overall S.E.O. goals can be met with how your site is being developed.

The wave of the future for site development is the Content Management System, also known as a (C.M.S.). These systems are light, search engine friendly and depending upon the system you choose, no third party software is needed to edit the site. This translates into, you the site owner, not needing to spend additional money on software needed to manipulate the pages of your website. With training from your service provider all you need is an internet connection and you can edit your website on the fly.

Whatever platform chosen whether it be, HTML, CSS Driven, PHP, ASP, or so forth, make sure it meets your current requirements and future growth.

Here are a few questions I would ask your web developer before a platform is chosen:

  • Will the site be viewable on the 7 major browsers i.e IE 6, 7 and 8, firefox, safari, netscape, opera?
  • What type of browser warranty does your site come with?
  • Will they be using Tables or Div's to develop your site? Important Note: You want Div's because the new browsers no longer support Tables.
  • What platform will they be using and why? Are the able to code for other languages besides the one they offered you? Important Note: Sometimes developers only offer what they know how to code in and what they code in may or may not hurt your rank and may limit future expansion growth. HTML coding is on its way out, PHP is the current standard and ASP is a heavier code and usually used only when large database inquiries are needed or other sophisticated integrated software platforms are required.
  • What type of C.M.S. do they offer and why?
  • Can the code for other Content Management Systems?
  • Will your site validate perfectly against the W3C Standards for Clean code and correctly written CSS.
  • Will your site be CSS Driven?
  • Will they provide a dynamic and XML sitemap?
  • Will they be using Google Webmaster Tools on your site? i.e. sitemap, analytics, adwords, adsence?
  • What type of continuing service will they offer once the site is complete?
  • Can you contact past clients to find out what type of service was offered to them once updates needed to be made?

Step 5: Search Engine Optimization - Internet Marketing

OK, so we have steps one through four completed and your site is live. HOWEVER, this is only the start of a successful web project. The saying "if you build it they will come" only applies to baseball fields and not websites. So, you have a great looking website, functions as it should, and has a strong foundation of Basic S.E.O. applied to it during the development process. SO WHAT and BIG DEAL!!!! All that means is that you have the frame work of a good site and you followed all the rules of building your site. But that doesn't mean you are going to get noticed overnight.

Look at it like this, everything you have done to this point has been the nurses getting you all ready and prepped for the Doctor. Now it's time for the Doctor to come in and to evaluate and prescribe a plan of attack to get your name out there, your business recognized but most importantly to bring value and trust to your site. Just because you may have spent 20-30 grand on your site doesn't mean anything to the search engines. It's the S.E.O.'s job to advise strategies' of garnering trust and to help bring page value to your site. Methods such as newsletters, press releases, blog articles, banner advertising, and respective linking are used to assist in this process. Important note: Search Engine Optimization is not an overnight fix. Research, trial and error and most of all time is what a successful S.E.O. implementation takes to see any type of ROI for your project.

To see related articles on Website Design visit our website at The Turn Group

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