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Website Design and Website Engineering
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Website Development

Website design and development involves more than just planning and putting up a website. It also has to do with working with the systems that run it, maintaining it with back-end programming, and keeping it viable,

Some companies even provide their web developers with a Purpose Statement in the early stages of Web Development. In it, they state what they want the site to accomplish and what they want the users to get from it. Goals, both long-term and short-term, should be defined from the start to plan for future expansion, improvement, or modification.

There are many steps in Web Development. There are also several strategies involved in Web Development that you can use to your advantage if you want to grow a new business.

However, if you are not a new business, you might want to skip ahead.

Corporate Identity Branding (e.g., Logo Development)

This is one of the most important aspects of Web Development yet is often taken for granted. Branding means you have to think of an appropriate domain name, establish a brand, and start creating a logo.

Putting a lot of thought in developing a brand is extremely important because it can make or break your business. Take whatever you’re selling or what your service is, and keep in mind that the name and the brand have to make a good and lasting impression on your prospective clients.

Ever heard of neuromarketing?

Neuromarketing is based on the theory that a part of our brain is affected by the product ads we see and hear, and because our brains have the capacity to recall ideas and images from commercials, the brand can actually override the actual quality of the product.

This is why companies spend millions of dollars hiring experts on branding – they know that brand recall is a powerful thing in marketing. You can read more about neuromarketing on the site: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/persuaders/etc/neuro.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuromarketing

Take the case of "Check Into Cash," one of my favorite examples for logo design. If you have never seen its logo, then take a sneak peek of it here:

http://www.checkintocash.com/

Logos, in general, should have powerful symbols in them. Notice that their logo has both the word "check" and a check symbol in it to facilitate people’s recall. Making the logo even stronger is the use of the dollar sign instead of a regular letter "S" in the word "cash," establishing more clearly that the services they offer have something to do with getting money.

A logo has to be able to stand on its own and represent what your company stands for. An ingeniously crafted logo can easily be recognized by people to help them recall your company and turn to you when they are in need of the product or service you are offering.

You could find logo design templates on the Internet if you want to try your hand at creating your own logo, or you could hire expert graphic designers (such as your EXCEL-WEST graphic design team) for this purpose.

Develop your ‘elevator pitch’ (Home Page Content)

Sometimes referred to as an ‘elevator speech,’ this is a meaty but concise description of the particular business you are in. This term essentially means that you only get to state your company overview of sorts within the time it takes for you to take an elevator ride – that is, about 100-150 words.

Just as a businessperson, to receive funding, pitches a business idea to a venture capitalist while they share an elevator ride, so too should you write an effective elevator pitch in order to hold the readers’ attention and interest.

You have to be able to succinctly explain – in about a paragraph on your homepage – the service or product or whatever it is on which your business is based.

Target Market

Gone are the days of "popshot marketing" where you just take a bunch of shots and hope to hit someone. These days, you have to know what your target market is, or what a past Director of Marketing for Coca-Cola and Nestle calls the "core market."

Below are just a few of the questions you should ask yourself when developing your core market:

What is their age group? Am I looking at the 45 to 65 age group, or at the youth? Is it primarily male, female, or mixed? If it is mixed, what percentage is male/female? What is the average income range of my core target market? Am I going to be selling locally? What geographical area do I want to reach? Do I want to sell to a specific racial group, such as Asians, African-Americans, or Hispanics? Am I reaching out only to English-speaking people or do I want to reach out to non-English-speaking clients as well?

The more thorough you can be in determining your core market, the more effective your website would be. Sometimes, people want to reach out to a niche market, and this information should be taken into consideration as you develop your site with the webmaster.

Pricing

It is necessary to be able to communicate with your web design person basic marketing aspects such as the pricing. What is the average transaction price that you expect to get from each customer? Are you trying to sell packages or services of a few dollars, or $500, $800, or $1,000?

Are you looking for someone who has more than $200 to spend on your products or services, or do you anticipate people willing to spend $10,000 or more? These sorts of information should all be communicated to your web developer in order for you to end up with an effective and appropriate website.

Traffic

Many people new to online e-commerce would insouciantly say, "If business is moderate, then that’s good; if sales go up the roof, then that’s so much better!" What they fail to consider is that Web Development has a lot to do with the volume of traffic you expect. Often, people create website designs that can handle a small amount of traffic and later encounter problems as their traffic grows.

If you can’t anticipate the amount of traffic that you are going to get now or in the near future, an experienced website development team can help you figure that out. The expected circulation should be determined as early as the planning stage because it’s going to affect the architecture of the site. There are limits to what a certain website design can handle, and you need to make sure you’re not caught flat-footed when growth happens.

Cover all bases

Your expected market reach should be matched with the right architecture. Normally, various web pages require different hosting plans that are of different sizes and capacities. A static webpage, for instance, will have system requirements that are different from what is needed for a dynamic one, or a site involving several databases.

The same thing goes for the type of operating system you use, such as Linux or Windows. This is why your web developer should be informed of the nature of your business and your target market. An EXCEL-WEST programming expert will advise you based on your needs on what program language is appropriate (e.g., XML, XHTML, PHP, .NET) and will also advise you on databases (e.g., MySQL, PostgreSQL, MSSQL)

U.S. consumers use hundreds of items every day, and as a business owner, you have to zone in on the consumers needs and offer them what most others can’t. Moreover, the design should consider the expected traffic to keep expenses to a minimum. You wouldn’t want to overspend on the actual architecture of your website.

Say, for instance, you own a restaurant with an extensive menu. Your restaurant size would be different from one who sells specialty food, as this caters to a smaller clientele. Or say, for instance, you want to open a pizza place. You’ll most likely go for a design that would appeal to all members of the family. On the other hand, if you decide to serve pizza and beer, then your market niche has changed and you would want to modify the design of your restaurant.

In the same vein, a diner in a small, Midwestern town that seats 20 people will do, but you have to seriously consider a larger structure if you’re building along a busy tourist spot.

As expert web design company, EXCEL-WEST staff knows the nitty-gritty of website development, and availing of their services would help you save a lot of money you otherwise may waste on making corrections to the site’s architecture.

Ideal Website Design

More than the aesthetic properties of a site, people want to see the ‘barebones.’ Industry studies have shown that a website’s credibility has to be reflected on a website, and a credible site has to have certain features.

An easily navigable homepage, for one, is key. The design should be such that the visitor gets a bird’s-eye view of what you are offering and would easily know where to click for additional information.

Second, the Company page or the "About Us" page should be able to give a clear picture of what business the company is in. There should also be a well-written FAQ page which is constantly updated, so people would get the answers to all the questions they have in mind.

Third, if you have products with their photos and descriptions, you can have as many pages as you want for your e-commerce store, provided they are all linked to the shopping cart or checkout page.

To help clients in navigating through your website, always have a site map incorporated in the design.

User-friendliness

What should be foremost in your mind in website design is ease of navigation. Remember that people surfing the Internet are always on the lookout for content that attracts their attention, and studies have shown that most online viewers spend less than a minute "checking out" a site. If you fail to engage them or make them leave because your site is too difficult to navigate, they flit to other sites and you lose them forever.

To prevent this, you should be able to precisely convey the features and functionality that you might want on the website. And if you are going to sell products, then you need to set up e-commerce. You might want to jump to the e-commerce section of this article below.

On the other hand, if you are offering services, then it’s important to have comprehensive pages that outline the services you offer. And that information needs to be presented in a clear, concise fashion. Go for both summary as well as detail when writing copy for the description of your services.

Write useful content, not fluff

Content is important to have on your website. Even if you are selling something visual, it’s absolutely essential that you have a lot of content on your website.

Content is used by the search engines to find you, and it’s how what search engines use to rank a website. If you don’t have a lot of content on your website, then it’s important to work with a web design team that can develop it for you.

Another important part of Web Development is constructing a list of keywords that will be used to program your website to help the search engines find it. These very same keywords are to be used when submitting your website to the search engines.

Should I build my website myself?

A lot of people who are new to web development, web design, or website engineering, go out and look into software like Dreamweaver, FrontPage, Web Easy Professional, WebPlus, Web Studio, IMS Web Engine, SiteSpinner, Web Page Maker, Perfect Website Creator, Web Page Wizard, ThunderSite, Ezypage, EasyWebEditor, Cool Page, WordPress or other web design software, and wonder if they can create their own website.

Well, let me just tell you, if you have a lot of time in your hands, are willing to learn, and have the requisite patience and resourcefulness, then by all means, study your website design software of choice. Allow yourself about 1 to 2 years to learn the ropes. You’ll also need to learn graphic design and how to use graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop, which can also take several months, if not years. Those who have a special knack for creativity will benefit most in learning how to use design software.

However, when doing self study, always hope for the best but expect the worst. Many website development software manufacturers make it sound as though you can have a website put up in just a few hours even if you are only a beginner.

That’s a promise their marketing people have been making for over ten years, but still, many have not delivered on that promise.

Thus, if you don’t have a timeline and don’t need to launch your website in a couple of years, then studying website design software might be a good approach.

Otherwise, we recommend working with a professional firm with years of experience, Excel-West has over 10 years of experience developing successful, results-driven websites.

E-Commerce

E-commerce is a broad term encompassing any type of business or commercial transaction which has to do with the transfer of funds and information via the Internet. It has come a long way in the last few years, and today, there are a lot of wonderful technologies that are used to help to make it easier to develop websites.

It’s very important to know that if you are going to set up an e-commerce website where you intend to sell your products, services, subscriptions, or digital downloads, you need to do a lot of homework.

Again, you have to determine a lot of factors and put in the important elements of an e-commerce website. Ask yourself whether you will require a one-time payment, a recurring payment, or a return membership login.

You would also need a credit card merchant account. There are a number of credit card merchant account companies around, including Paypal, AuthorizeNet, and VeriSign, just to name a few.

In addition to having a credit card merchant account set up and established, you are also going to need to look at what your needs are - either a turnkey shopping cart or custom solution. Many solutions are touted as "turnkey," although none of these programs are truly turnkey. How would you know which to avoid?

Again, there is a substantial learning curve. If you are learning any of these mentioned here, allow yourself at least nine months to one year, full time, if you are willing to learn these and to try to do them all by yourself. Some common shopping cart programs are Virtuemart, Miva, Shopsite , and CashNet, to name a few.

When working with the web developer to quickly develop and create a website store, it’s important that if you have a lot of products and services that you’ll be going to offer, you need to present those in a web-ready database such as an Excel spreadsheet. Not only that; the list will have to be comprehensive: List the products, the product numbers and their corresponding descriptions.

If you are going to ship the items, you need to include the weights of those items, a full description, the sales price, and the category.

Developing categories for your e-commerce store

If you are going to sell a lot of products, then it’s important to develop categories for your store. If, for instance, you are selling clothing, then you need to categorize them into men’s, women’s, children’s, or infants’ clothing. For easier navigation, you can even make use of subcategories – so under women’s clothing, you can add lingerie, sportswear, shoes, and others. You’ll need to make all those determinations.

An experienced e-commerce firm will be able to assist you in setting up a proper design and architecture for your store.

Payment gateway

Another important part of your store is developing a shopping policy; in fact, Visa and MasterCard require that you have a clear and concise shopping policy.

An experienced web design team will be able to provide you with Visa and MasterCard compliance or credit card association-compliant shopping policies. That way, you’ll easily be able to incorporate them into your website and make buying through your site extremely easy for clients.

Images

Images that are prepared for the web are a bit different from regular photo images. They need to be optimized for the web, and a great graphic design artist will know precisely the adjustments to be made to images in order to make them web-ready. It is therefore important for you to provide the web developer all the images of all the products that you plan to put on your website.

Web 2.0

I want to talk a little bit about Web 2.0.

Web 2.0 is basically the "next generation" of the Web. Web 2.0 has to do with all kinds of advanced mechanisms on the web, and that includes everything – from developing social networks such as MySpace and Facebook, to creating portals like YouTube, Flickr.com, and video.google.com, which are places where people share their videos and pictures.

Web 2.0 is all that and much more. It also refers to forums and bulletin boards where people go to share information and exchange ideas. These are just some of the developments that have to do with Web 2.0.

Content Management Systems (CMS)

There is also Content Management Systems as well. They enable large corporations to present a lot of complex information in a user-friendly way. A Content Management System is an extremely complex system installed and configured by EXCEL-WEST's expert developers. Often, it may take web developers, system engineers, and system administrators anywhere from two to six months – depending on the complexity of the Content Management System that you want to create – to develop a CMS. Entry level systems include Joomla and Mambo (open source programs).

The benefit of having people take care of your CMS is that you’ll be assisted with managing your ongoing web content and you’ll have time on your hands to work on aspects you feel need your attention. Your website’s CMS should be so designed that people who will be maintaining the site for you won’t need to have extensive knowledge about web design in order to maintain your data.

Thus, with a Content Management System, there typically are a lot of upfront costs required, but there will be substantial long-term savings in the long run.

Work only with experts

If you decide to invest in a website with a lot of potential for growth, work only with people who know what they’re doing. Anyone can put up a website for you in a matter of days, but if it’s not the proper structure and if it’s not built properly, the structure would likely collapse if you develop visitors while your site is not properly outfitted with the right design and architecture. When this happens, you’ve pretty much lost your opportunity with those potential prospect, and it’s very hard to get them back. This is exactly why proper planning is so important.

For more information, or an estimate on developing a successful website, contact us here at EXCEL-WEST, at 888-317-9300 . We look forward to working with you to help you achieve your successful website venture.

Copyright (C) 1997-2016 EXCEL-WEST. All rights reserved.

Thanks Angie Paras for your contributions.

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