What You Should Know About Web Design and Hosting

I recently received a call from a business in the Healing & Health industry. This person asked her web design guru for a simple addition to her web page. He refused to do it and told her to log in and do it herself! When she decided to give the web design work to me to do, he deleted her entire web site and database! Are you ever the true "owner" of a web site that you paid money to own? The people that you as a business owner trust with your entire online business, are these people worth of your trust? Your business is the one way of serving online clients, are the people behind it worthy of your trust? It is no joke to lose a web site that existed for the past 6 years and the database with all your client contact details and the people you resell to monthly!

How can business owners protect their web sites and online assets? Web designers should make a full backup copy available to every site owner on request; right after the web design is complete and online. As the web design progress, a new backup copy should be available to you. Content managed web sites or the so-called Database websites, the actual database and a backup of your normal web design should be available to you. Ask your web design person up front, even before you choose a particular designer, if the source code and web design files would be available to you.

Graphics and content for your web site
If you as a business owner pay a person to design graphics and write up content for your web site, you are entitled to this content and in reality the owner of it. Web design Tip: Your web graphics are utilized on letterheads and business stationary - why pay another graphic designer for this - insist on the content that is rightfully yours. You own them because you paid for them.

Let us look at domain hosting.
I have also come across very suspect hosting companies. Some hosting companies physically disable the standard functions in the control panel of their server, so the owner of a web site cannot log in and create web site backups! Why would they do that? Yes there are space limitations on any hosting server, however why would one keep a backup on the same server? Should the hosting server ever have a problem it would only make sense to have your web design backed up elsewhere.

Let us look at Server Reliability.
Some hosting companies look very promising up front. The smaller company that is just entering the wild world of online advertising may find nothing wrong with his hosting company. Now it gets to a point where the business would like to start selling online and promote his services through having an online blog and a bigger better web site is required. Therefore, he pays the regular web design person to do the web design and host it where it was all the time... The business and site gains hacker attention and is down three out of five days! Make very sure your server is secure. If you have to, get your web design done and host it on a server for a probation period. If you are not happy, use your backup copy of your web design and get a reputable hosting company to move the web site for you.

Always think of the future
It is very unpleasant and unprofessional to have online clients get to your business web site and it is offline. Error pages drive visitors away and 90% of them will not return as they start to fear that your web site is not trustworthy to open on their computers. Everybody by now knows that often we get lead to suspicious web sites through e-mails. I personally recommend rather paying a little more for a lot more in future by hosting with a reputable company.
Support Does the hosting and web design company provide you with a phone number so that you can call them when you have a problem? Do you have to talk to a server through e-mail with hardly any human intervention? I have found that when hosting companies provide you with a phone number to talk to a real person, they more then likely have the structure in place to provide you the excellent service that you need for something as important as your business web site.

The Importance Of Getting The Best Web Design Team Involved In The Project

It is quite often said that the first rule of web design is you do not talk about web design.

If traditional graphic design is 2--"dimensional, Web design is 4 or 5--"dimensional. Web design is a complex process that requires a wide range of creative, business and technical skills. Most web designers worth their salt know the phrase web design is a laughably broad term.

I mention the above not to try and put people off either entering into the Industry or trying to do down those who are already in the industry but more as re statement of facts about the state of web design today.

The problem that has arisen in the last few years is such that it would appear to be very easy to become a web designer. Hey it's cool and it sounds great at parties. It would seem as a result that almost very man and his dog is now into web design. You could take this argument and lay the blame for this fairly and squarely at the doors of the like of Macromedia and Microsoft for making such easy WYSIWYG web design programmes such as Dreamweaver or FrontPage for people to take up and master. But this would be too simplistic and not realistic.

Web design is a complex process that requires a wide range of creative, business and technical skills. Most web designers worth their salt know the phrase web design is a laughably broad term and it requires an ability to see things from as many a side as possible - multi tasking in the extreme.

They say its what's inside page design that really counts and nothing rings truer where web design is concerned. Web design is a complex discipline that involves a wide range of skills. Of course content is king, the purpose of web design is to present it in the best way possible. When was the last time you saw a new book release from the likes of Amazon etc with a lousy cover and so it is with web design? For the millions of web surfers out there, your web design is their first impression of your business and your credibility.

Good web design is a collaborative process. Every new web design is the solution to a design problem that can be summed up in a series of constraint questions: Who is my audience? What is the audience dynamic and more importantly what do I want my audience to do? Do I want them to read, enjoy, think leisurely and then buy my services or do I just want them to hit the chequebook as soon as is possible?

Web design is a constantly evolving dimension of marketing and it is a field that is crowded and competitive. A Kickass Web Design is Search Engine friendly, effective and affordable but remember the goal of Web design is not merely to dazzle, but to deliver information to the widest audience possible.

Lastly one of the most important rules in web design is that your web site should be easy to read. Web Design is not about decoration - it's about how the web works.

Freelance Web Designer Vs Web Design Company

Many of these clients initially hired web designers offering terrific prices that were irresistible. These web designers are found on such web sites as scriptlance.com, elance.com, freelancedesigners.com, contractedwork.com, getafreelancer.com, allfreelancework.com and hundreds more. They offer a meeting place where businesses post projects and freelancers bid on them. It's a nice way to save a buck, but remember, you get what you pay for.

Also stay away from web site template systems. Avoid that fish-hook. Again, you get what you pay for.

Disappointed
One of our clients thoroughly reviewed a freelancer's work and decided to hire him for the company's web site redesign. According to the client, no matter how hard the freelancer tried, he just couldn't capture the creative vision the company wanted projected. The freelancer was also slow to respond to design revisions, further frustrating and disappointing the client.

Freelance = Part-time
Don't forget that freelance is another word for part-timer. This is usually a college student or a designer who already has a full-time job. If the freelancer fails to deliver on promised expectations then it's no skin off his or her back and you're left holding the bag.

When choosing a web designer to develop your web site, which will be your storefront to the world, ask yourself a few questions.

- Does a part-timer have the same breadth of experience as a full-time web designer who works on a multitude of different websites from month to month?

- Does a part-timer have the time to stay on top of the latest news and changes regarding search engines and search engine optimization? (This helps to determine your ranking and website listings in search engines.)

- Does the freelancer have the need to protect his or her business reputation with the same vigilance shown by businesses?

- Does a part-timer have the resources to hire additional designers or programmers for your project?

- Will the freelancer be around next year to help you with questions or concerns regarding your web site?

Making the Smart Choice
You may pay a little more to have a web design company develop your web site, but in the end a professional company will deliver on what they promise, most often exceeding your expectations.

Every client that has come to us has had similar experiences. Most of them did not like the design, or the front-end of the database looked elementary. Professional design permeates all aspects of a web project -- web site pages, logo, layout, text positioning, database display and administrative display.

Making the Final Decision
Now that you've been educated about web designers, jump on Google and check out web design companies in your state. Make a bulleted laundry list of what you're looking for. Include links to web sites that you like. For example, here's a simple bulleted list you might submit for an RFP (Request for Proposal):

Looking for a web site for my widget business I would like to have the following pages and functions:

Pages to include About Us, Testimonials, Contact Us, Map, Products, Refer a Friend.
* For products page I would like to have an image gallery with pop-ups
* Include a cost option for Pay Pal e-commerce
* Include a cost option for professional e-commerce like LL. Bean or similar store.

Check Company References
Most companies include a list of references in their RFP's. We include up to 15 in our current RFP's. You might even try contacting business owners by looking at the information sections of web sites that the web site design company has posted in their portfolio. Listen to what people have to say about the company. When you've collected 2 or 3 RFP's, you're ready to commit to a decision.

Most likely your decision will be based on your phone conversations and the responsiveness of the design companies you're considering.

Earn On Offshore Web Design and Development

If you have some experience in web site design and want to make good money you can try acting as IT-outsourcing partner. Learn more what you should know and how to start.

Why offshore web design and development?

Offshore web site design and development help to keep prices at least 3-5 times less, for example, average hourly rate of web development services in USA is $35-75; in UK - $25-50, in Ukraine - $5-20.

How it works?

Typical plan is like that:

  • You find a client who needs a web site, ask his/her requirements for the project and send to your offshore partner company.
  • The partner makes a proposal and gives you the project estimation basing on his hourly rate, for example, $10.
  • You mark up the rate $10/hour as high as you wish (and can - taking into consideration competition in your region, level of demand for web design services, and other marketing factors), for example to $30/hour, and sends the proposal to the client. So if the web design project is estimated on 50 man-hours of work, you charge the customer $1500, from which $500 you pay to your offshore partner company, and $1000 is your profit.
  • The partner company works on the project and delivers it to you along with copyright for the work.
  • You deliver the site to the customer.

Result - you have a satisfied client and good profit from the marked up price.

How to start?

The first and most important step is to analyze market in your region and decide if it's worth to start this business.

If you already have your own web design company it is easier for you because you already know situation in the market, gain certain reputation, have clients list, etc.
But don't be afraid if you are new to web design business. Believe in yourself and work hard and finally you will be rewarded for all your efforts. As in any type of business, starting the one in web design area, you must ask yourself general marketing questions:

1. Who will be your customers?

2. Why they will order the web design services exactly form you?

3. Where and how they will get to know about you?

Without having clear answers to these questions you shouldn't try to start anything.

The second step is to find trustful and reliable partner - offshore web design company - that will work as "development center" for your business. This company must have good experience in web design and development area, good reputation, top level of customer care and communication. There are many resources in the Internet where you can find necessary information - search engines, web design directories, outsourcing portals.

For example, you can try searching in search engines for appropriate key phrases "offshore web design", "offshore web site design", "offshore web development" and analyze sites of your potential partners.

Also here are several sites where you can find lists of offshore web design companies sorted by country.

http://web-designers.bluegeckonetwork.com/

http://www.theoutsourceguide.com/

http://www.1234-find-web-designers.org/

How to choose the right offshore web design partner company?

There are 2 main factors that determine your choice - cost and quality of web design work.

Cost

Basing on the average web design prices in your local market and your competitive abilities you set prices that you will charge to your customers. There are several methods of web design price calculation, most used are flat price for fixed web site packages, and price based on man-hour rate. Most web design companies operate with both and choose one depending on each project type and requirements.

Then you decide which profit you want to have and narrow down your search choosing companies with appropriate price range.

Quality

Consider the company reputation, portfolio of previous works, testimonials of previous customers, level of communication. Pay attention to payment policy and method, conditions of ready projects delivery, warranties, post-development support and maintenance.

If all details are agreed you may start partnership. Sometimes the first project is quite simple to test abilities of both parties and if everything is going well the partnership will bring mutual benefits.

Affordable Web Design

To be able to come up with an effective web site for personal or business use, you need to have the tools that can make your site not only attractive but user-friendly as well. Given the stiff competition that you would have to deal with in promoting your business, you need a site that stands out. One of the best ways to set yourself apart is to use flash web design on your web site. Doing so allows you to present information on your web site that is not only appealing visually, but also helps users navigate your site better.

Best deals on flash web design

There are a number of service providers to choose from if you want affordable flash web design for your web site. You can get a professional flash web designer to do the job. And given the amount of competition on the Internet with regard to these services, you can expect to get some good deals from freelance designers and web design companies as well. As the Internet can provide you with a wealth of information on flash web design services, searching for the best deals will only require a small amount of research and canvassing.

Another practical option is to look at online marketplaces, where you can get the best deals on both software and web design services. There are also a number of web sites that offer free software on web design. You can find these by simply typing in a query on your search engine. On the other hand, there is also another option you can take if you wish to recoup the investment that you made in building your web site: allowing companies to place their ads on your web site. Ads not only allow you to save money on your web site but also give you the opportunity to earn money.

Building an effective web site need not be expensive. There are a number of options you can choose from to make the process of building your site more affordable. Doing so involves searching for the best deals not only on software but also on web design services, which are readily available from a number of sources.

How to Hire The Right Web Design Firm

Regardless whether you manage a small business, charitable organization, or Fortune 500 company, choosing the right web design firm can quickly become a full-time research project. With thousands of design firms to choose from, what factors truly determine which design firm is best for your business?

The primary considerations for choosing a web design firm are:

* Price

* Customer service/access to support

* Credibility indicators of the design firm

* Portfolio and design experience

* Other services offered (domain renewal, hosting, SEO)

* Turnaround time

Let's take a closer look at each consideration in detail, and explore how to identify and qualify the right design firm.

Price

Like many products and services we purchase, both personally and professionally, deciding on a web design firm can often come down to price. But the value of the services rendered is really what's important. A $200 web site usually turns out to look, feel and perform like a $200 web site.

The price of your site's development will depend on three factors: the features of the site, the amount of content, and the service options included with the design package, such as hosting.

Because pricing varies by firm, here are several principles to use when determining the validity and value of a web design quote:

* Does the quote state one all-inclusive price for the entire project?

* Is there a reoccurring monthly fee for hosting?

* Is the site custom-built, or is it customization of an existing template?

* Is there a separate fee for content development, such as writing sales copy?

* Is domain registration/management included in the package?

* Will the firm provide multiple design concepts, prior to actual development?

It's important to compare quotes from at least three firms to, determine the value of the services offered. Looking for the best value is important in a competitive service market.

Customer Service

There's nothing worse than signing with a firm that offers a great product, only to find out they are impossible to contact. Consistent, open contact with your web design firm is important for ensuring success before, during, and after your web site is developed.

Throughout the design process, you may identify text, photos, or contact information you'd like to change before the site goes live. If you have immediate questions regarding your site's development, you'll be glad to have immediate contact with customer support staff by e-mail, telephone, or live chat.

If you are limited to e-mail technical support, consider other firms that offer a wider range of customer service options such as telephone and live chat support. E-mail is great for convenience - when it's convenient.

Credibility Indicators

Identifying "credibility indicators" can help ensure a firm is trustworthy, and will be around after your deposit or full payment is sent. Credibility indicators include, but are not limited to:

* Toll free telephone support

* 24 hour customer service

* Better Business Bureau affiliation

* Human e-mail address contacts

* Google PageRank of 2 or above

* Presentation of a hard-copy quote/design contract

Design Experience/Portfolio

Does the design firm have experience in working with similar types of businesses? Even if a designer doesn't have a web site in their portfolio related to your industry, the firm you select should have a strong working knowledge of how to develop an effective site for your business type. Product and service web sites are not the same. Your designer should have a plan of action for developing a site that reaches the maximum number of prospective customers in your target market.

A few good questions to ask about a firm's design experience include:

* Does the firm offer a number of diverse, finished web sites available for review?

* Will the firm conduct research regarding my competition?

* Will my web site highlight the features, benefits and value of my product or service?

* Has the firm outlined a plan of action for creating an effective site, start to finish?

Design experience need not always relate to the type of web sites the firm has previously developed. If you have a specific look in mind, ask the firm if achieving a similar design is possible. The ultimate goal is to know you're going to get a tangible benefit out of your site through effective, affordable web design.

Additional Services

Many web design firms offer design, but do not provide other required services such as hosting and domain name registration. Ideally, your web design company should be a full-service firm, offering at least basic hosting, domain registration and search engine optimization services tailored to your needs. Research each firm to determine other key lines of business, so that any future expansion of your site will be seamless as your business grows.

Turnaround Time

An effective website should take 30-60 days to go live, from the start of production. Unless you're offering hundreds of individual products or services on your web site, the entire development process, start to finish, should take no longer than 60 days. Turnaround time should include:

* Upload of your web site to the hosting provider

* Configuration of any scripts or forms on your site

* Domain propagation (accessing your web site and e-mail via yoursite.com)

Hiring the cheapest, fastest, or most elaborate web design firm does not always equate to hiring the right web design firm. A limited amount of front-end research can save time and money in the long term, and maximize the sales revenue from your web presence.

5 Things To Hate About Web Design And How To Fix Them

What do you hate most about websites? If you browse websites as much as we do, then there is a lot to hate. Because there are so many terribly designed, user non-friendly websites on the Internet today, we have put together this short but detailed list of things to hate about web design. In addition to compiling this list, we've also provided a solution for each of the problems.

When creating a web design, there are a number of things that a web designer should take into consideration if their goal is to produce a high quality, user friendly website.

1. Vomit Inducing Color Schemes

There is nothing worse than visiting a website and seeing a borderline-gruesome, mismatched, out of control color scheme. As basic as it is, some people have a terrible time choosing successful color schemes. Though there are millions of colors to choose from, it doesn't have to be a difficult process. Whether you want to pay for a piece of software that will significantly simplify the color scheme selection process or use one of the free color scheme tools available on the Internet, you will be implementing attractive and successful color schemes in no time.

To Pay

If you want to pay for a color scheme application that will do all of the work for you, then your best solution is the Color Schemer Studio. Located at http://www.colorschemer.com/index.php and available in both Mac OS X and Windows flavors, this tool not only builds you an entire color scheme based on a single color, but it also generates monochromatic, complement, split complement, triad, tetrad, and analogous harmonies based off of that same single color that you choose. It is absolutely remarkable. There are a lot of other neat and extremely useful features built into this application, too.

Not to Pay

If you would rather not pay the $49.99 for the Color Schemer Studio (even though it is worth every penny), then there are free alternatives available. Navigate to http://www.colorsontheweb.com/colorwizard.asp and you will find a Flash based color scheme tool called the Color Wizard. Although not quite as user friendly as the Color Schemer Studio, the Color Wizard has a lot of features built into it. You can either enter a hex color code or move the sliders back and forth to find the color that you're looking for. The Color Wizard also gives you multiple harmonies based off of the single color that you choose. The Color Wizard is a solid (and free) color schemer product. The only downside to the Color Wizard is that it is available only to be used on the Internet. In comparison, the Color Schemer Studio does not require an Internet connection since it located on your computer's hard drive.

Less is More

When choosing your color scheme, don't use too many colors. The statement "less is more" should always be applied during the color scheme selection process. How many colors should one use? That's a difficult question to answer. Although there is no set number, it is generally best to work around three colors if possible:

  • Primary color: The main color that occupies the majority of the page. The primary color sets the overall tone.
  • Secondary color: The second color that has a purpose of backing up and reinforcing the primary color. The secondary color is usually a color that is similar to the primary color.
  • Highlight color: This is a color that is used to emphasize certain areas of the page. It is usually a color which contrasts more with the primary and secondary colors, and as such, it should be used with moderation. If you're using color schemer software like the ones mentioned above, it is common to use a complimentary or split-complimentary color for this.
There are a lot of resources available on the Internet that explain color schemes in greater detail. However, if you use any of the color schemer solutions mentioned above and follow the basic tips which we have mentioned, then you shouldn't have a problem creating a beautiful color scheme for your website.

2. Flash-al Abuse

When used excessively or in inappropriate places, Flash is terrible for your website - terrible for Search Engine Optimization and perhaps more importantly, terrible for your visitors. Don't get us wrong - Flash is a remarkable program that allows creative multimedia geniuses to produce some fascinating work. However, the following implementations of Flash should be excluded from your website:

Navigation

Probably the most abused and misused method of using Flash, Flash navigation is usually bad or extremely bad. Why is it bad you ask? Well, there are a number of reasons:

  • Search Engine Optimization: If you're familiar with SEO, then you know the importance of having text on your website. Text is what makes indexing your website in the search engines possible. The problem with Flash is that the search engines do not go inside of the Flash files to collect the text information. What this basically means is that when the search engine spiders crawl through your website and come across your Flash navigation file, they crawl right over the top of it. If you have keywords in your Flash navigation that are relevant to the content of your website, then they won't be indexed or even noticed by the search engine spiders.
  • Page load time: Using Flash for your navigation will slow down the load time for your web page. Yes, using anything on your website will add to the load time; however, some things (such as Flash navigation) are avoidable. Some Flash file sizes are larger than others - the larger the file size means a longer download time means the more your already impatient visitors have to wait.
  • User non-friendly: The purpose of website navigation is to provide for your visitors a means of, well, navigating throughout your website. Flash navigation crosses over from bad to extremely bad when the visitor must wait for an animation to complete each time their mouse cursor rolls over an item in the menu. In case you didn't already know, people hate waiting. There is nothing worse than having to wait even just a few seconds in order to activate a particular navigational item after rolling over it. Not only can the animations be annoying, but sometimes the menus are just downright confusing (i.e. Picture elements are used instead of words for each item).
  • What about people who don't have Flash?: Not everyone is using Flash these days. Although it is usually rare that someone doesn't have Flash activated on their computer, it still occurs. These Flash-disabled users will have no way of finding their way around your website. And since one of the key ingredients to a successful website is navigation, not having navigation to those with Flash disabled will make your website look quite terrible (and more importantly, non-interactive and useless).
The best way to build a SEO friendly, fast loading, user friendly, ultra compatible navigational menu is by using CSS (cascading style sheets). CSS solves all of these problems that you will encounter when using Flash navigation. There a number of free CSS navigational menu resources available on the Internet. Dynamic Drive CSS based navigational menus located at dynamicdrive.com are extremely popular and widely used by web designers and web developers, including us.


Flash Intros

Without a doubt the worst way to use (or should we say misuse) Flash is to have a Flash intro on your website. In case you don't already know, Flash intros are those annoying animations that play when you first arrive at some websites. If the content of your website is engaging and useful, then there is no real reason to have a Flash intro. Adding to the fact that most people are impatient when surfing the web, many of them do not have the time or patience to watch a lengthy Flash intro.

If you're going to have a Flash intro, then at least include a "Skip Intro" button that is clearly visible to the user. Even better, instead of making the Flash intro something that is automatically shown to all visitors, place a descriptive link somewhere inside of your website that, when clicked, allows the user to view your promotional animation (usually what Flash intros are).

Finally, be careful with the inclusion of sound in your Flash intro. If someone has their speakers turned up to a high volume, then you could be responsible for scaring the living daylights out of them (and scaring them away from your website as well).

3. Information Overload

Having too little information on pages of your website can make them seem bare and boring; however, having too much information can overwhelm the user (which isn't something you particularly want to do). Ads, images, text, more ads, navigation, secondary navigation, content, more ads... they all start to add up.

Although there is no rule as to how much information per web page is enough, you should try and limit your web pages to the following:

  • Header/logo: All websites need a header/logo to identify who they are. For usability purposes, try and keep the height of your header at a moderate size. Most of our headers are no more than 200 - 300 pixels tall. Anything taller than 300 pixels and you take the risk of forcing the user to have to scroll down just to see the navigation and content of your website. Yes, we want the user to look at the navigation and content of your website; however, less scrolling makes for an easier and more enjoyable visit for the user.
  • Navigation: All websites must have a functional navigational system in order for users to be able to find their way around the website. Using vertical or horizontal menus are a matter of personal preference. Although one menu is necessary, try not to have more than one. Multiple navigational menus can easily confuse the user. If you have a lot of sections on your website, then try using a CSS drop down menu which will allow you to include a great deal of navigational items while taking up a minimal amount of space.
  • Ads: Many websites provide a service to their visitors for free. It is because of advertisements that most of these services are available for free. When using advertisements, don't abuse their usage. Google AdSense allows a maximum of 3 ads per web page for a reason - too many ads can make your web site look like spam in no time. Placement of advertisements is also important. Don't try to trick your visitors by placing your ads in areas where they look like actual content on your web site. People do not like to be tricked. If they want to visit your advertising sponsor, then they will click on the ad.
  • Content: Each web page should have an area for content. This main section should be the focal point for each web page. Having a lot of information about the topic for each web page is absolutely fine. Make sure not to include too many different topics on one web page. Instead, split the topics up and allow for each to have its own page.
  • Images: Use images moderately and only when necessary in your content area. Images take longer to download than text. Make sure that your images are properly compressed so that the download time for your web pages are not compromised due to large images. Nothing says "amateur web designer" more than having large, uncompressed images that take minutes to load.
  • Footer: The information contained in footers vary from website to website. Try not to stuff too much information in the footer - especially important information. Not all users scroll down to the bottom of web pages to see the footer - some stop at the end of the content. If you have important information that must be placed inside of the footer, then begin the footer soon after the content area ends. Placing the main links for your website in the footer is a practice commonly used by designers.
There may be additional things that a website requires depending on the topic and the industry; however, all websites should contain these 6 elements. Developing a navigation and layout strategy before building a website is essential in guaranteeing that your website doesn't suffer from information overload.

4. Image Text: A Big No No

Like a car inside of an airplane hanger, text does not belong inside of an image. The only exception to this should be using text inside of a logo. Yes, it can be boring using the same text that everyone else uses for their websites. However, you can still make rich and compelling designs without sticking fancy text inside of your images.

There are a few reasons why using text inside of images is a no-no:

  • Larger image file sizes: Each piece of information inside of an image adds size to the file. As we mentioned earlier, the larger the file size means a longer download time means the more your already impatient visitors have to wait.
  • Not SEO friendly: Just like Flash files, search engine spiders cannot detect the textual information inside of image files.
If you have an image that requires text, then try an alternative method using CSS layers. Not only is this method easy to implement, but it will help keep the image file size smaller. It is also SEO friendly.

5. Attack of the Columns

No, this isn't a spin off of the Star Wars movie. Attack of the Columns is a phrase we use when a web designer uses more than a few columns in their layout. Some designers believe that by using more than a few columns they can better organize and display the information on their web page. The problem is, just like information overload, using too many columns will overwhelm the user.

When more than 2 or 3 columns are used, a focal point is usually eliminated from the web page. Without a focal point, the user has no idea where to look. Instead, the user's eyes wander aimlessly throughout the web page. This will cause the user to feel confused and overwhelmed and might make them go to a similar website with a cleaner, less-busy layout.

Even if there is a focal point, there is probably going to be too much information on a 4+ column layout. If huge sites with massive amounts of content (i.e. Amazon.com) are able to work with a 3 column layout, then there is no reason that any other website can't do the same. Plan your layout before you start building your website and you will find that even if you have a lot information and content, a 3 column layout is more than enough.

Happier Visitors

These 5 Things to Hate About Web Design are very important - perhaps the most important things a web designer should take into consideration when building a website. All 5 of these items have one thing in common: when followed, the user will have an easy, fast loading, straight forward experience when they visit your website. What more could they ask for? Well, maybe less advertising.

Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Web Designer for Your Business Web Site

How to Choose a Web Design Firm

Simple. You do your homework on them. Then, you start asking questions and taking notes. There are plenty of web designers available. You want to go with the best because, in fact, your web designer is in essence your partner. You want to choose a designer that takes YOUR business seriously.

What questions do you ask?

There are several important questions to ask when choosing a web designer for your business web site.

Creating your web site can be a tricky process. Choosing the best web design firm for your business web site is a very important decision. And if your company is like most small businesses, you probably do not have web design experience. Building your web site will take time and work. And working with a web designer is no easy task. So choose the right web design company from the start and avoid do-over's, which can be costly and time consuming.

1. What kind of web experience do you have?

For starters, find out what kind of design experience your potential design firm has. Do they have experience with content management systems such as Joomla or Drupal, do they have experience working with "raw" HTML? Has the web design company created web sites similar to yours? Do they have relevant industry experience? If you want to sell products through your web site and accept credit card payments, does the web design company you are considering have experience with ecommerce hosting?

2. Do you have a portfolio that I can review?

An experienced web design company will have a solid portfolio of web sites that they have created for other clients. Ask for links to other site the design company has created and review each one. Do you like what you see? Do the sites have a style that appeals to you?

3. Do you have any references?

In addition to reviewing web sites, ask for customer references. Contact their clients and ask them about their experience with the web design company. Were they happy with the results? Did they get what they paid for? How much did they pay? Would they recommend them? How long did it take? What didn't they like about the company? How responsive was the company when they had questions?

4. What are your prices?

The most important step in pricing is to make sure the potential design company outline all of the prices associated with the work and puts it all in writing. Never enter into a deal unless all of the costs are well understood up front.

Ask them a bit about how they manage payments. If they respond in a very business-like and professional manner, this is a good sign. If they throw out answers like - "Don't worry, we'll manage" or "Whatever you are comfortable with", don't be fooled. This is trouble waiting to happen. Get the price in writing before you begin the project.

5. Do you have experience with search engine optimization?

Most small business owners do not have it in their budget to hire a separate marketing firm to work on search engine optimization (SEO), so it imperative that your web designer have experience in SEO. A good designer will know that design and SEO go hand-in-hand. Designing a web site for search engines with "clean" code that utilizes cascading style sheets is essential to getting your content indexed in the leading search engines, such as Google and Bing.

6. Do you have experience with social media marketing?

Many marketing firms do know the first thing about social media marketing. These firms are stuck in the past and are not as effective as they pretend to be. Be sure that you work with a designer that knows how to setup a Facebook fan page for your business and design a customized Twitter profile. This is important because you will want your social media properties to mesh with the design of your web site. The web site and social media pages should complement one-another.

7. What is your process for designing or building a web site?

Make sure you ask your potential web design company about the process that they use? Do they design a web site or do they build a web site? An experienced Internet professional should understand the difference between these two concepts. If they don't, they're probably not as experienced as they claim to be. Building a web site is a highly technical process, while designing a web site is a highly creative process. Many advertising firms specialize in web site design which does not necessarily require any web development skills whatsoever. At the same time, many firms design web sites, yet out-source the creative portion of the project. Find out from the beginning what the process if for the firm that you are considering.

8. How long will it take?

Perfectionism can be a huge stumbling block in the fast paced world of the Internet. Some designers are unable to compromise between quality and time to market needs. Test: See how long it takes until you receive a proposal.

9. What type of support is offered after web site launch?

If your design firm does not offer web site maintenance, you might want to continue looking. Most reputable design firms will offer "post-launch" maintenance for companies that do not have an in-house webmaster.

10. Which web hosting providers do you work with?

If your design firm does not know the first-names of the contact at their favorite web design firm, then this should raise a red flag. Most reputable web designers know not to choose a web host simply because they are the most popular or because they offer the cheapest web hosting. A reputable web design firm should know who to call and how to get results! Does your web designer work with a green hosting company? Environmentally-friendly web hosting is becoming more and more popular for business web sites looking to implement an eco-policy.

Getting a little recognition on the W3 is hard, even in a niche market (especially in a niche market). You have less than 10 seconds to convince a site visitor to stick around long enough to learn about the quality of your services, your products or your message. Web surfers are jagged out on information overload. If they don't see what they want to see on your home page or a landing page, they bounce. So, making a statement about your corporate culture and your business' core values has to happen in the blink of an eye. Visitors will never even see the "About Us" page if you don't create a good impression - in 10 seconds. So, go green! An emblem or banner proclaiming that you employ green hosting makes an immediate statement about your on-line business. It says you care about the environment.

Do your homework when choosing a web design firm.

Good designers are creative people that need to think out of the box. Finding a good web designer is getting harder and harder. The good designers are being snatched by agencies and large projects. They are overloaded with work and often, you won't know about them because they don't have time (or need) to market themselves. Doing your homework and asking the right questions is important to decide if they are right for the job.

The Business of Web Design is Not a Spider's Alone Anymore!

The world has shrunk beyond time zones, distances, geographic boundaries, culture! This process of shrinking has been - and is being - enabled by the 'world wide web'- the network that connects the world's people. The 'world wide web' comprises of several networked computers across the world that can communicate or signal each other aided by satellites and fiber optic cables.

To put it in a 'web', the World Wide Web can be considered to be one vast storehouse of knowledge and information. People can pump information into this storehouse as well as retrieve whatever is there. In order to both put in and pull out information, an interface is required. This interface is a 'web page'. Through this page, a person can do myriad things - sharing information, audios, videos, pictures, have business and money transactions and much more.

So, having in mind the criticality of a web page to the world's information business, we can easily appreciate the importance of web page design. Web Design can formally be defined as the conceptualizing and modeling of a user interface that is internet friendly and web browser(s) compatible.

The ultimate goal of web design is to create a web site which is nothing but a collection of electronic files that reside on a web server(s) and this can be done efficiently if you get hold of a great ecommerce solution that will help you create a ecommerce web site design too. A web site presents web pages to the end user. These pages could hold just information in the form of words, pictures and other multi-media (static pages) or could show varying content based on the inputs from the end user (dynamic pages).

Web design involves creating web pages and weaving them together into a web site. Depending on the information being sought by the end user, one of these web pages will be shown to him. Web page design has to take into account the content that will go into the web page, the appearance and usability of the web page and also the visibility quotient (which determines how often the page comes up when the web is searched). Once a web site is built, it has to be hosted on the web, in order for the entire world to have access (provided there is no access restriction) to it.

Web Designing has become an industry in itself. A Web Design Company springs up every minute across the world claiming to offer professional web design services. A professional web design company will not just consider the front end aspects involved in web page design but will pay attention to several back-end (server side) aspects like data security, data storing, data modeling, data retrieval etc. These aspects affect the speed and privacy of a web page which ultimately decides the number of users who will see/use it.

eCommerce, which is doing business on the web(internet) from the comfort of your home, is the corporate mantra today - it can be said that a revolution is underway, a single, large global community is in the offing and it will certainly not be an exaggeration to say that 'Web design' is in the thick of things.

UK Low Cost Web Design

There are many web based web designers that offers services regarding websites and graphic designs which are useful for promotion. Their services include but are not limited to creating websites, maintaining sites by providing the needed updates, customize graphics and offers scanning services, offers proofreading and edits prepared texts, personal consultation, and promotes websites. They can also provide ecommerce and online shopping as part of their web design and structure. They can create hosting, html, management systems, javascript, flash, php, and other internet related creations.

Low cost web design is composed of web designers and experienced programmers that aid the business or individual in creating a website that promotes their activities in the web. Their web designs are customized according to what the customer wants and they even provide scanning services on their graphics and visual designs. But aside from scanning, they also provide proofreading and editing on text to be incorporated in the websites they are creating for the customer. If necessary, low cost web design can visit the business establishment or the customer personally at their location to provide consultation. They are personally involved in the designing and creation of the customer's website.

In their website, it is observed that the prices differ from each services rendered and is offered in a certain time duration. The client can readily access to this pricing as it is directly presented in their website instead of prices from personal transaction. The clients can readily expect how much to pay according to what service they want to avail. This is a good sign that low cost web design is operating within a standard procedure. Nevertheless, there are services that need pricing based on unknown duration such as complete website optimization which first ensure that the service is complete and guaranteed before the final price is agreed. Other services are on fixed price and with description on what the client should expect from the services rendered.

Low cost web design also creates related web designs on templates and logos. Aside from this they provide graphics designs for the business such as brochure designing, ad designing, poster designing and flyer designing. Indeed it is a one stop shop for customers to be promoted not just in the web but also in other media form.

The team of experts involve in low cost web design can extend service even if the customer has not been exposed to a website before. It creates a website from the scratch and assists the new user on how to operate and link their sites to other resources that may be helpful in the promotion of the site. They are not only good as creators but also as web counselors, designers and programmers concerned with providing the right service with guaranteed satisfaction from the ground up. They specialize on the internet but their specialization is not limited to those who know the net already. They customize according to the customer's wants as well as their level of understanding about the web.

Web Design-Impact Beyond Measure

Like a 'mind-boggling' yet enthralling Pablo Picasso painting, it is essential for websites to create captivating and thought-provoking material to lure an audience and, secure a solid fan base. Naturally, abstract paintings require quite a bit of out-of-the-box thinking when deciphering the artists' vision, thought and message. This is the kind of allure that a website needs to uphold so that it can become successful over time. By ensuring that users are sufficiently stimulated on a continual basis companies will eventually attain devoted subscribers. This is what every company desires, though the trick is to develop a site that is not clad with complicated design elements (which could affect usability) and bland content that'll bore browsers to tears, but to establish an effective balance.

Of course, if a website does not contain substance one cannot expect a great response or loyal following, now can you?

According to research, a website that has relevant and informative content can help to position a company as professional in view of the interested and targeted consumer. If a website can clearly and efficiently show a potential customer that the company is knowledgeable and up to date in their field of expertise, the consumer becomes confident and trusting of the services offered. Take into account that a web site is multi-functional entity that serves as a communication tool, thus it plays a central role in improving the impact and image of a brand. Consider your website a personal interaction with both current and potential consumers. Because of this very notion, even the slightest 'balls-up' can jeopardize a company's reputation. Yet, however gripping a website's content may be design elements have a dramatic, if not crucial impact and contribution to make.

There are a few prominent aspects of a website that is greatly influenced by web design. Keep in mind that web design's influence on the success of a website runs deep. These are but a few significant and fundamental elements that are magnificently affected by web design.

Usability is key

When a user punches a few keywords on a keyboard, instant and relevant information and a no fuss policy is expected. Instance coffee and fast-foods bears testament to how today's world has evolved into a fast-paced, 'I want it now' society. The Internet is certainly a result of this mindset. Life has become easier, like baking a cake from a box. Most users have a short attention span, when it comes to finding the information that they need and want. Because of this very reason, usability is a vital. As far as making content easy to find, with good web page design, a user should not have to wonder what to do next. Navigation is there for a reason and, makes thing easier and get information to the user ASAP!-which is what you want. The next step should always obvious. The easier it is for customers to find what they are looking for the likelier they'll buy or enquire.

It's like being stuck in the queue at customs at the airport, waiting for your turn to be serviced. Frustrating isn't it?

It's been noted that too often web sites are focused on looking attractive without considering the user. Many have won prestigious design awards, yet perform extremely poorly and as a result lose customers by the thousands. According to research 50% plus of online sales are lost because visitors aren't able to navigate through a website and find what they are looking for. Another factor that plays a major role is how long it takes for a website to load. Research states that it makes good sense to ensure that a website loads fast. Studies have shown that if visitor are forced to wait for more than 8-10 seconds for a page to load, clients run a serious risk of losing potential consumers.

As a rule of thumb, every single web page should load in at least 8 seconds or less, preferably on a 56k modem.

Flash has been named as a huge factor when it comes to the usability of a website. However, Flash has become a popular tool in internet marketing and is now widely used across the web. But, there can be drawbacks so it needs to be carefully determined whether or not a site will benefit from its use. One of the benefits of using Flash is the visual appeal of it. It can be used with navigation, by adding interesting visual graphics. Although, one disadvantage about using Flash is that not all internet browsers have a Flash player moreover, not all users may want to download it. Needless to say, Flash technology tends to discourage usability for very apparent reasons. Flash can cause bad design, break the Web's fundamental interaction style and it also consumes resources that would be better spent enhancing a site's core value. Approximately 99 % of the time, the presence of Flash on a website hampers the usability and distracts the attention from the site's core value and purpose.

Perhaps, Web designers interested in enhancing usability and their site's overall business presence should use Flash sparingly?

By focusing on improving usability, web designers are able to keep users interested, for the long haul.

Our lives are filled with colour. What would the life be like if we lived 'black and white' lives? Colour adds interest and can determine whether a website is fresh and alive looking or it can also create a dull and dreary image, which is not what any client wants. In the world of web design, bad colour schemes can make a site look unfriendly, amateurish, and inaccessible. So, it comes as no surprise that over 80% of visual information is related to colour. There are various reactions to colour which are instinctual and cross universal and cultural boundaries. According to a 1997 survey by Cooper Marketing Group, Oak Park, IL, power is represented by the color scarlet red for 25% of respondents, black for 17% and bright violet blue for 13%. More than 55% of those surveyed chose one of these three colors out of 100 colors. Fragility was most represented by pale pink (27%), white (9%), and pale lavender (9%).

Note that colors can be perceived by people as different moods and emotions. When designing a site one should consider the mood that needs to be portrayed. These moods can vary from person to person, depending on their life experiences. Web design which achieves successful marketing results is sensitive to the cultural, instinctual and iconic meanings of colour in relation to the product or service being promoted. More importantly, it also considers the cultural backgrounds and gender of the targeted clientele. Avoiding the extremes of sheer garishness and boredom, effective design displays symphonic colour arrangements of shades, tints, tones and complementarities to tantalise and maintain interest. Adding textures too can alter colours - a roughly textured surface makes a colour seem darker, while a smooth surface lightens the same color.

Although, it also stands a designer in good stead to know what colours signify. Different shades of colours work well in different situations. For example, using very saturated colours all the time is not always good, by using shades that can make certain things stand out more or less than others. For example, it would be good to have elements in the main content stand out more than in the sidebar, because that is where you want to draw attention. When making sites you have to use your common sense when picking colours. For example, if you were making a business site you wouldn't use bright pink, because this would look childish and unprofessional. Another example, if you were making a laser eye clinic site, you wouldn't use red as this would imply danger and blood. Scary.

These days computers support millions of colours (16bit or 32bit) meaning the compatible colours between systems have increased. The new palette, based on 16bit systems, is the web smart palette which supports 4096 web smart colours. When changing colours you must ensure the contrast between the colour and the text on it is enough for people with poor eyesight to see, or at least offer a high contrast version. There are sites with grey text on slightly greyer background making it very hard to read, this is bad accessibility wise. Also note some colours can be annoying together, for example some people have difficulty looking at green and red together, green text on red would be a very bad idea. In most instances, finer details are forgotten and falls by the wayside - consider color blind people on the web, ensure they have options to see a version they can actually read.

The Impact of Web Design on Conversion Rate
A simple description of conversion on the web reads as follows; Conversion refers to the form that an interested party fills out in order to buy a product from a company. A Web Site Visitor Conversion occurs when a user takes key action to do so. Conversions can be macro (the most significant action) or micro (one of the many actions that precede the macro conversion). For most sites, conversions are what can be directly or indirectly traced to a financial return. Spending money on search engine marketing or online advertising might be a waste of your resources if a site is a poor converter. Inevitably, conversion determines website profitability.
Once again it is essential to make a web site to easy to use. If not the less chance there'll be of people buying.

Interestingly enough, making a site accessible is a legal obligation in many countries. Inaccessibility can affect sales, as visitors will find the site impossible to use and go elsewhere. Apparently a typical inaccessible site could be losing 5% of potential sales because of this. Many designers only pay attention to Internet Explorer. The justification for this is usually that 99% of the site's users use IE. It never seems to occur to the designers that perhaps the reason they have so few visitors with other browsers is that their site is fundamentally broken - it doesn't work in anything else.

Percentages of people not using IE varies from site to site.
Approximately 80-85% of web users are using IE on Windows, which means that an average site that does not work in anything else could stand to lose 15-20% of sales. Visibility is also an important factor. For instance, when a user decides to buy a product, they add it to a shopping basket. How do they add it? By clicking a button or link. But what happens when they can't see the button? They go elsewhere. There are plenty of sites out there with buttons that are too subtle, or don't say the right thing, or are hidden away at the bottom of the page. "Add" is considered an ineffective button text. "Buy" is fairly successful. "Add xxx To Your Basket" is great. "Add xxx to Your Basket" in big letters on a big, bright button, near the top of the page, is even better. Calls to action, like this, don't have to be bland but they must be obvious and clear.
Sites which are just call to action according to research could earn a 1% to 30% increase in sales as a result.

The impact the web design has on SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

It is a known that having a Web site rank well in search engine results for searches on specific keywords/phrases. If a Web site doesn't have a page appearing in the top 10 search engine result positions (SERPs) the chances of someone clicking on the listing, and actually visiting the site, will drop dramatically. Optimizing a site and content for a search engine, for a better ranking in SERPs, is known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), yet many Web developers/designers either don't take time to code a site properly or don't know how to do proper SEO. The basics of code optimization are just sound HTML coding practices; when followed, they go a long way toward SEO. There is a lot you can do to optimize your Web site for search engines from the code level.

The first rule of SEO is not to design your site in such a way that the code prevents a spider from being able to index it. This means avoiding pages which are 100% graphics and no text, such as pages that contain all images, or are Flash-only. Furthermore, if the first thing a user encounters is a log-in page, before being able to see the site's content, then that's what a spider will see and it won't go any further, either. If you're planning to build a Web site entirely in Flash, Don't. If you have no choice, then read my previous column, Search Engine Optimization and Non-HTML Sites. To find out what a spider sees on your site, run a spider simulator on a given page. The simulator will show you what text the spider sees and what links it finds. There are many good ones on the market at various prices. If you're looking for something that's free, I'd suggest Search Engine Spider Simulator.

There's certainly plenty of room for further impact, depending on the subject matter, in regards to information architecture, copy writing, interface coding as part of web design or the layer of graphic design (usability). Web design encourages confidence and trust in the site as it is able to look legitimate and "professional", depending on the design elements chosen. Web design can maintain a clear, consistent and unified message and operation. Obvious as it may be, a good site should be memorable. Being memorable, and making sure you stick in the user's mind, is dependent on a lot of factors. It's no good if your visitors remember why you are great but don't remember your name.

Evidently, web design is much more than just a pretty picture.

What to Look For in a Web Design Program

You've decided that Web design is the career for you. You're ready to jump into the game, but you're going to need some education on how to design Web sites first. However, with literally hundreds of schools offering courses in every possible permutation - Web site design or graphic design with a focus on Web sites; certificates or full degrees - how do you decide which program meets your needs?

Skills taught in a Web Design program

Web site designers require a vast array of skills, not all of which are (or can be!) taught in the classroom. However, there are certain skills that all Web designers should know. First among these is HTML (HyperText Markup Language) code, which comprises the building blocks of the Web. All Web sites, no matter how fancy or how focused on Flash animation, consist of HTML at their core.

Although most designers now use Web editing programs such as FrontPage or Dreamweaver to design Web sites, in order to understand what is actually happening when the Web site loads, you need to know HTML. For entry-level positions, this markup language can be enough, but for more advanced positions, you should learn one or more other markup languages, such as XML (eXtended Markup Language) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), as well as one or more scripting languages, such as JavaScript
and ActiveX.

You will also need to learn the basics of making a Web site look neat and professional. Although it may seem elementary, there are a wide range of techniques involved in creating a Web site that flows well. A logical site is designed to allow the user to quickly understand the purpose of the Web site, and to easily find the information he or she needs. Although this is obviously more of an art than a science, there are many techniques that help users navigate each page within a site more effectively and quickly. As a Web
site designer, you should be fluent in these techniques.

To work on Web sites, you'll also need to understand the basics of how a computer operates. These technical skills enable you to set up and modify the Web site. Being able to use FTP (File Transfer Protocol) clients to add pages and upload site changes is paramount. So is being able to modify the site contents manually by using text editor software. Some of this software allows you to view changes instantaneously, such as the Real-Time HTML Editor, which is available online. Other text editors are included with your
office computer, or can be installed, enabling you to work on site contents outside of a site editing program.

Finally, depending on the specific career path you have in mind, you may need to have other skills. If you are focusing more on the graphic design aspect of Web design, you will need to focus on learning about vector and raster graphics. Raster graphics, comprised of grids of tiny pixels, are dependent on the size and quality of the image - photographs are raster images, for example, and can look blurry or sharp, depending upon image size and resolution. Vector graphics use geographical points and coordinates
instead of pixels, and can be resized without losing image quality. Typography, or the art of choosing and using fonts and typefaces, is also important. Page layout, or the skill of combining pictures, text, links, and animated images on a Web site to create a pleasing overall design, is also very important.

If, however, you are more interested in the technical aspects of maintaining a Web site, you will need to focus more on server administration, namely by learning to use Web server software (such as Microsoft IIS or Apache), and understanding how to run log analysis so you can track who visits the site, and how frequently you receive unique visitors. There are other specific domains in the field of Web design, including site optimization, security, usability, and quality assurance. Each sub-specialty in the Web design field requires the knowing the design basics described above, plus additional skills which you can learn in class and on the job.

In summary, these are the type of Web design classes you can look forward to taking:

  • HTML and other markup/scripting languages
  • Web site graphics and layout design
  • Some technical skills necessary to publish a Web site
  • Other skills related to the specific type of Web design career you want to pursue

How Do I Know This Web Design Program is Right for Me?

There are a large variety of Web design programs, which run the gamut from certificate programs to full degrees. These programs are offered at learning institutions ranging from small, private schools to large, public schools - and everything in between. Finding the specific Web or graphic design school that meets your needs from the many available can be a challenge. Here a few questions to ask yourself when deciding upon a course of study in Web design:

  • Do I want to study online or at a traditional school?
  • Can I fit a full-time program into my schedule, or should I go part-time?
  • Do I want a degree program, or a certificate program, which is usually quicker, and can help me get into the field more rapidly?
  • Am I willing to change my schedule or where I live to learn these new skills?
  • Am I more interested in the technical end of Web sites, or would I prefer to work on graphic design and page layout?
  • Does the Web design program I am interested in offer all of the classes needed for the career I want to focus on?
  • Does the school help graduates with their career planning by offering job or internship placement assistance?

By answering these questions, you are well on your way to figuring out which is the right Web design course for you!

Discover How To Make Your Web Design Easier

Whenever I thought of web design my face would frown, I just hated the fact that I had to do any kind of web design. I just couldn't see why web design was simple for others and not for me.

Well, that all changed when I discovered this simple program, a web design machine made for those who just don't understand that you can do it yourself if, you would only keep your web design as simple as possible.

Since using this program I have been able to launch two websites with my own web design style within two months, these websites aren't perfect, but they do look very professional.

And, they carry my touch, yes, at last I can boost to my friends how easy web design is for me, because they have no clue that I am using my little secret weapon for my web design.

What does it take to design your own website?

Now, for those who don't understand what it takes to design your own website from scratch, I will give you five important steps you need to master, before you can get your website to the next level.

Five steps for perfected web design:

1) You Need Some Type Of Web Design Software

No one and I repeat no one, is doing web design the expensive way (The truth: Some are still wasting money paying for web design). Those who has enough money, pay for their web design, and those who can't will have to get their hands on a easy to use web design software that gets the job done.

2) You Need To Know Some HTML

No matter what type of web design software your using, you must educate yourself with a little HTML. There is no way around that. Once you get the feel for simple little HTML code snippets, you will notice that you never ever need to know more than that, because you already have my little secret weapon ( My secret web design software program, that I will lead you to very soon).

3) You Need To Know How To Layout Your Website

Wow, another killer, I had no clue how or what to do, much less layout a web site. That all changed when I bought my little secret weapon, it came with a manual loaded with tips on not only how to use the software, but also how to layout your website template.

4) You Need To Master Internal Linking

If you going to design your own website, you must know how to internally link you website together. Ah, well, not really if you have my secret web design software you won't need to know how. This is taken of by the program, it creates all your internal linking,
without you even understand how it's done, isn't that cool.

5) You Need To Keep Your Web Design Simple

This one should have been number one, because it is so important and yet so overlooked. Look around the web and notice the top sites online, they are all use very simple web design with lots of white space. Don't get flashy if your building a website for profit.
Look at Google and Yahoo, they are very simple and that's what you need to do when you design your website.

Anyway, I have given you some tips that should set your web design on fire, if you follow and study successful web sites online, you will see the trend, simplicity wins the web design war.

And now, for the long awaited secret weapon, just browse over to this simple web designed site and watch the video, you will understand why this is a secret weapon that only the guru's use, once you try it.

Be advised, your web design doesn't get return visitors, it is well written and informative content, so why spend thousands on web design, while searchers are only looking for information.

Web Design is The Essence of Your Business

Web Design is Fun. It is undeniably a practice of design, a process by which problems are solved. For the millions of web surfers out there, your web design is their first impression of your business and your credibility. The key issue in web design is how to add value to the user's experience, how to make them feel that they truly got something out of visiting your web site. User-centered web design is all about giving the control back to the user, which brings us to the term Accessible Web Design - the art of creating webpages that are accessible to everyone regardless of any device in use. No doubt web design is important, but usability in the other hand, is king. This importance will lead you to find a professional to design your web site right. The complexity of the resulting web design is somehow determined by the goals and budget and affordability in this aspect, is in fact a reality.

Design ideas don't have to be hard to find. For you out there that have specific ideas which are ready to be implemented, you just need someone with the technical know-how to turn them into web reality. Get ideas about the latest web design trends and communications concepts by looking analytically at your competitors sites. Evaluating example products is one way to get ideas for detailed design. From these set of ideas, you can then conclude on your final approach on how you want your assigned designer to get the whole thing done.

Flash is already the Web's standard for dynamic web animation. In creating original cutting-edge design there's nothing better than using Flash Web Design. It is by far, a very versatile and popular method to add eye-catching action to your web site. Flash is also probably the trendiest technology currently used in web design. However a slow-loading web page or flash movie makes seconds seem much longer, if you happen to "overdo" it. Flash does not only associate itself with animations but also as great complimentary values to other media such as presentations, videos and audios.

When you create your own web page keep the importance of shape in mind. You don't want certain things to be in the extra large department when other items such as your text is relatively small to keep up with the overall ratio size of the presentation. Another important item to consider in your websites is the level of seduction. Yes, you read that right. If you've ever got lost in the maze of some websites, you'll know the importance of intuitive web design. Seductive websites provide users the reason to stay longer by providing good typography and by not underestimating the importance of navigation. Knowing the importance of this, you cannot afford to take a chance on any trial-and-error method. The importance of writing quality web content is also equally important. Nevertheless, until recently, though, a greater emphasis has been placed on the importance and overall influence of color in the field of web design.

Web design is a complex discipline that involves a wide range of skills. In fact, I'd go as far as to say, web design is information design. In my experience, web design is primarily about the business. Every new web design is the solution to a design problem that can be summed up in a series of constraint questions - Who is my audience? An extraordinary web design is mandatory to a successful business, hence the goal of web design is simply not merely to dazzle, but to deliver information to the widest audience possible. Web design is exciting, it changes day by day. These changes will reflect your company's complete product and service presentation. Web design has always been made up of some basic premises, and if you understand them you can help deliver pages that will impress and illuminate your readers. A successful Web design is paramount to a successful business.

Ten Tips on How to Find The Right Web Designer for Your Business

A talented individual or company can give your website a professional touch and make it stand out from your competitors. However, you should spend some time to find the right web designer to meet your needs. Here are some tips to keep in mind before you make your final decision.

1. Identify the Primary Goal of Your Web site or Blog

Before you request the help of a web designer, you need to determine the primary goal of your site. Is the purpose of your blog or website to sell products, provide information, collect contacts or provide services? Do you want to include audio, video or animation and do you require search engine optimization? Is web marketing a part of your plan? If you are unsure about any of these elements, discuss them with your designer before beginning the design process.

2. Investigate the Designer's Skill Set

You should find out the particular skill sets and strengths of a prospective web designer or team. Some designers specialize in helping small business owners and focus in one or two main areas. They may rely on partners or other individuals to assist with other aspects of the design process. Remember that programming and designing are two completely different skill sets. Just because someone is a talented designer, does not mean that this individual can program efficiently or vice-versa. Design agencies can often provide experienced individuals who can assist you in both areas.

3. Review A Designer's Portfolio Carefully

If you are considering hiring a web designer, make sure to review their entire portfolio. Visit other websites the person has designed, and look for at least one site that catches your attention. You need to find someone whose work you admire. You should also remember that most designers solicit additional resources for design support resources and page coding any sites they create.

4. Check Multiple References

Often the best way to find a talented web designer is by word-of-mouth referrals. However, it may still be suitable to consult multiple references. Talk to more than one site owner who have hired the individual or team you are considering to find out their experience. Every website contains multiple components that are often frequently updated so be sure to inquire the date when a particular site was created. If you encounter a negative reference for a designer with an impressive portfolio, find out how long ago the work was completed. It may be possible that the designer had issues with the client or that their skills set or policies have changed with time and experience.

5. Verify Feedback & Communication On Freelance Sites

If you are seeking a web designer on any of the freelance job sites or forums, make sure to verify the individual's feedback and look for trends. You should also initiate a dialogue to determine the response rate and level of communication. Remember, that you will require more time and patience if you decide to hire a talented web designer who does not speak your language fluently. Be prepared to repeat questions and guidelines to ensure you both know exactly what is expected. If you are a small business owner, you can also look for web designers at local printing companies, design schools, institutions and local colleges.

6. Spend 30 Minutes Finding Suitable Online Examples

You should spend half an hour searching online for websites that appeal to you. This small investment can save you literally days or week going back and forth with your chosen designer. You will be able to provide concrete examples of your desired design concepts which will minimize the amount of revisions required.

7. Prepare As Much Web Site Content Beforehand As Possible

Don't wait until your designer begins creating your site to start creating content. This can often destroy a project during the web design process. Prepare as much of the content for your site beforehand as possible.

8. Inquire About SEO Optimization

You should consider SEO optimization for your web site. This is becoming increasingly important thanks to the ever-changing search engine algorithms. Don't assume that your web designer will automatically perform this service for you. Inquire if this is part of the design package and what level of SEO optimization will be included.

9. Find Out How Many Versions or Changes Are Included

Before hiring a web designer, make sure to inquire exactly how many versions or changes will be included for the agreed price. You don't want any unpleasant surprises during the process.

10. Verify If You Will Receive the Artwork Upon Project Completion

Ask if you will receive any artwork used on your website after the project is complete. Some designers will charge an additional fee to prepare artwork finalization, whereas others will send you the artwork upon receiving final payment. You should obtain all the original artwork in case you need to hire another individual in the future update or revise your site.

If you follow the above guidelines when choosing a web designer, you can save yourself a lot of unnecessary time, expense and frustration. If you choose the right designer, you'll end up with a professional site that can help you gain a competitive edge!

Plan a Web Design Career

Web design is the designing and graphical presentation of content shown on the Internet in the form of Web sites and other Web applications using many different forms of media.

The continued growth of the Internet has kept web designers in high demand. Web designers are responsible for the day-to-day design and creation of web sites. Web designers design the layout and create the content to build and create web pages for clients. Web designers work in a creative environment where they use graphic design, navigation design, and page layout to create web pages. These designers are also well trained in programming languages like HTML, XHTML, and JavaScript.

Training:

Degree programs and training courses in web design will teach the basics of website design. Coursework will generally cover the basics of web design, and specific techniques used for Internet graphics and animation. Training program in web design will typically introduce students to the concept of designing web sites for applications such as e-commerce and personal sites. Programming languages such as HTML, XML, and Java will also be covered in coursework. The classes are usually hands-on and provide students with skills that are necessary for success in the workplace.

Outlook:

Job opportunities for professional web designer are endless. The Internet provides a multitude of opportunities for designers around the world. The majority of web designers are salaried employees who often work for design firms and advertising and marketing companies. There are even web consulting firms that specifically build and manage websites for client organizations. However, a good number of web designers are self-employed and find full time work just by word of mouth. The median expected salary for a typical web designer in the U.S. is $50,372. Salaries can reach much higher depending on how much experience you have.

Offshore Web Design and Development - Use Great Opportunities

Sooner or later every small or medium business owner realizes that he needs a web site for his business. And almost everybody wants to have great web site for affordable price because usually web site design budget is quite limited.

There are few ways to find the best solution.

  • Somebody prefers to design the site by himself - but it takes much time and labor, distracts from the general business, and let be frank - you have seen many of such "DIY" - web sites -they lack professional touch and look unfinished or overworked.
  • Somebody decides to hire a professional web design company but in case of limited budget he has to say "good-buy" to many features he wants to see on the web site, because web design companies are also businesses and they can't work for "thank you very much" only.

So what to do when you want to have great web site but your web design budget is limited?

Think about IT-outsourcing and offshore web design and development!

There are many web design companies in other countries, mostly of Eastern Europe and East-Southern Asia that operate with small budgets and offer great web design works

How it is possible? There are different economical factors which condition on low internal expenses of the companies in these countries so they can do the same volume of work but for lower price than it costs in USA, Canada, UK, Western Europe or Australia. So offshore web site design and development helps to keep prices at least 3-5 times less.

You can say "Yes, this is cool that I can save my money but how they will do the work if I am here in USA but they are in Ukraine, for example?" Easily! In our age of Internet this is not a problem at all! Practice proves that for web site design project it's enough to have communication through email, instant messenger (ICQ, AOL, MSN) or IP-phone.

You can say "How can I trust somebody whom I have never seen before and most likely will not ever see?" Actually this question must the web design companies ask, not you, because there are many of IT-outsourcing companies and competition is quite strong in this area, so to get a customer many companies allow the first payment after 30-50% of the project completion, i.e. you pay after you have seen good results and satisfied with the work.

And as in onshore web design you need to pay much attention while choosing web design company: look at their previous works in portfolio, and ask about previous customers' references. Ideally all this information must be accessible on the company's web site.

As for the rest there is not much difference between offshore and onshore web site design process. You see the results of work in the progress, make your comments, see changes, agree them. When the project is complete and the site is ready to be uploaded to your server, you make final payment. It's also not a problem - you can make payment by credit card, PayPal, wire transfer, Western Union, etc.

So let's resume what you must know when dealing with offshore web site design:

  • If you are on "tight budget" and can't afford spending thousands of $$$ for your web site design you should think about trying offshore web site design opportunities.
  • There are many countries, which take part in offshore web site design; the most well known are India, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Philippines.
  • To make right choice of offshore web design company for your web site design take into consideration the company reputation, portfolio of previous works, previous customers' references, quick and competent feedback to your initial request.
  • To avoid problems you must be attentive and ask exact questions about payment policy and method, timescale and milestones of the project, conditions of the ready site delivery, warranties, post-development support and maintenance.

At your first experience with offshore web design you can see it to be too risky and complicated, but this feeling will be replaced with real satisfaction when you will see your new great web site live in the Internet and you realize how much you have saved on its design.

What a Professional Web Designer Should do for You

Once upon a time, a business could choose not to have a web site. They reasoned that they did not need a professional web site; they could do just fine without one. Then, one of their competitors decided to get a web site and a buzz was created. Not to be outdone, another competitor decided to follow suite. Then another and then another. Pretty soon customers were asking the business if they had a web site. Finally, they realized that they needed a website in order to keep up with their competitors. And so, the Internet exploded. These days, everyone has a web site. From large corporations to small businesses; families to individuals, everyone is on the Web. A friend of mine even created one for his infant child.

This article is created to speak to the few remaining businesses that have yet to tackle the Internet beast. You want to have a web presence, but it seems a daunting task. "Where do I start?" you say. "What issues will I need to address so that I make the most of my new web site?" you continue. This brief article will cover some of the areas of the webdesign process to pay particular attention to. We have designed many web sites for clients that had no idea where to start. We firmly believe that client education is a vital part of the overall success of the web project. Most professional web design companies have published some guidelines that will help potential clients answer some of their questions. It is with that in mind that we have written this article.

Why do you want a web site?

Will your web site be for personal use (just show some photographs to your family members, for example)? Will it be to advertise a business service? Will it be an informational web site, simply to pass on knowledge to the visitor? Will it be used to sell a product? Is it important that you show up #1 in Search Engines?

These are vital questions with which to begin. The answers you come up with will determine the direction in which the overall design should go.

Do you have a business logo?

If you have been in business, you may already have a logo or a trademark that your customers recognize. If that is the case, do you have the original graphic that can be emailed? It will be important to use that on your web site.

If you do not have a logo or anything by which your customers currently know you, do you have any ideas about what you might like, a sketch, a doodle or something similar? Whatever the case, usually a professional web design company can design a professional logo for you or reuse your current one.

Do you have particular colors that you want to use?

Not all colors work well on the Internet. Generally, selecting a few colors is the best path to take. Your web designer can help you select quality colors that will come together in a design that you will be proud to show off.

Have you seen web sites that you like?

Providing an example (or examples) of a site that you like is a good way to help your web designer understand the look you are after. A professional webdesign company will usually get this type of feedback from their clients. Then they will have a feel for their "taste" and can use that as a pattern for their site.

Do you have a web site domain name?

This is the actual address of the web site. It is what you will rattle off when someone asks you, "Do you have a web site?" If you do not have one registered already, your web designer can take care of that for you. Some web design companies may charge a yearly fee for this service, anywhere from $10 to $50. However, some web design companies offer this service at no charge. Make sure to ask your web design company about this upfront so that there is no confusion.

Do you know how many web pages you want for your site?

Almost all web sites have a Home page, a Contact Us page and a Links page. However, after that, you have to determine what you want features to emphasize about your business. Is it important that visitors know some history about your company? If so, you will need an "About Us" page. Do you have categories of product that you want to feature on your web site? If so, each category will have its own page. Do you want visitors to be able to fill out an order form when they are ready to buy something? If that is the case, you will need an "Order Form" page.

Your web designer will ask you about this facet of your web site, but it is good to think about this on your own before you take that step. As a rule, the more pages a web site has, the higher the cost. So choose a web design company that you are comfortable with and don't let them talk you into more pages than you really need.

Do you have graphics and photographs to use on your site?

If you have pictures to use on your site, are they in a high-quality digital format? As a rule, a scanned photograph will not look good on your website. The best pictures are ones taken with a digital camera. These can be used on the web site and formatted so that they have a professional look.

Many web design companies are able to take pictures for you. Usually, this service is an additional charge, so make sure you discuss this option.

Will you maintain the web site yourself?

If so, do you have an understanding of the Code Languages used to create your web site. Some of these languages may include:

  • PHP
  • HTML
  • XML
  • SWF

If you are comfortable with these languages, your web design company can probably setup the web site to allow you to maintain it yourself. However, most companies will not support sites in which the client has made changes to the original code. Make sure to discuss this during your initial consultation.

Some companies will create Content Management Systems (CMS). These allow their clients to update the website without having to touch the original code. With a custom CMS, if you can create a document in a Word Processing program, you can change your website content. This means you do not have to learn any programming languages and, at the same time, you do not have to call your web design company every time you want to update your site. Of course, the company you choose should always be available to assist if you get stuck. They should also be willing to e-mail you a link to show a demonstration of their custom CMS.

Hopefully, this article has given you some good guidance to follow on the path to your new web site. With some advanced preparation, you will tackle the Internet beast with no problem. The web design company you choose should be willing to supply you with a list of satisfied clients. Take the time to review the list. Contact the clients listed and ask them for their opinions of the company. This will give you some good information to help you make a good decision.

Top 5 Web Design Pet Peeves

The evolution of web sites over the past ten years has been amazing. What started out as a motley gathering of crassly designed personal sites has evolved into a varied collection of multimedia presentations, dynamic online journals and stylishly designed online brochures.

What has not changed, however, is bad web page design.

As a small business owner, it is usually wise to hand over the design of your web site to an expert. After all, your time and energy is best spent attracting and providing service to your clients.

However, the more you know about web design, the more you can guide your web designer towards an end result that fits your needs.

This is YOUR web site, and is the online face of your business. Do not let your designer make these mistakes on your site - please.

My Top 5 Web Design Pet Peeves:

5. Page Overboard

Your web designer might enjoy showing off his or her mastery of the latest techniques, but that does not mean they belong on your site.

Going overboard by adding animation or a "splash page" not only adds to the page loading time, but it can really irritate visitors who just want to see the information they came for.

Irritated visitors equal lost revenue and lost opportunities, so keep your web site clean, simple and easy to navigate.

4. Irrelevant Content

Content Is King when designing your web site, and is equally important to both of the major groups who will determine the success of your web site.

The first group is your web site visitors. They have come in search of specific, current and relevant information, and they want it now. If they cannot find it, then poof, they are gone!

The second group is the search engines. If the search engines find relevant information on your site, then they will pass along your site as a source of that information.

To keep your visitors and the search engines happy, a web site requires your ongoing attention. Outdated information sends a message to your visitor that you are not taking care of business. They can easily assume that you also will not take care of them as a customer.

Oh, and do not even get me started on the kind of impression you will make with bad grammar and typos; enough said.

3. Graphic Takeovers

Do not let your web site be taken hostage by your graphics. Whenever you introduce non-text elements to your web design, you reduce the accessibility of your pages, and this creates problems for visitors with special needs.

You may have visitors who are visually impaired and rely on screen readers, or who are still relying on dial-up connections (up to 30% of Internet users).

So, to make your web page dial-up friendly and accessible, limit the number of graphics, displaying only those that truly complement your page. Then, make the graphics web-ready by taking these four steps:

1. Compress the file to either JPG (for photos) or GIF (for icons, buttons, etc.) format.

2. Crop out any dead space.

3. Resave the image with a resolution of 72 dpi, which is the ideal resolution for web sites.

4. Add appropriate "alt" tags to all graphics so that screen readers can properly "read" the graphics, menus, buttons, and text.

2. Graphic Monstrosities

Having large graphics that slow down your page is bad enough. Blinking, scrolling, or animated text is even worse. But using fuzzy, distorted, or unprofessional graphics is the absolute worst offense you can commit on a web site.

This will immediately create the impression that your work is of a low quality - remember, your web site is the online face of your business.

Adding professional graphics does not have to be expensive. You can pick up web-ready photos at istockphoto.com for a buck!

1. And my NUMBER 1 WEB DESIGN PET PEEVE is -- Keyword Stuffing

There is a very disturbing and unethical web design trend occurring right now. Designers will "stuff" a site with keywords so that it is identified in the most popular keyword searches, WHETHER OR NOT that web site has anything to do with the subject of the search.

Disappointed visitors may spend a couple of minutes at your site trying to find what they were looking for, but the naive hope that they will then get sidetracked from their search because your site is so interesting is a risky tactic.

More than likely they will click away in frustration and you will have lost their trust forever by misleading them.

Folks, web design is really quite simple. People visit web sites because they need something - information, a product or a service.

When they get to your site, they want quick access to accurate, relevant and up-to-date content that is easy to see and not cluttered by advertisements.

Your web site does not have to be the prettiest or have the latest gizmos and cool tricks to get your point across and serve your visitors.

Stick with the basics and if your web designer is pushing you to commit any of these pet peeves, watch out!