Website Design – Strategies For Building an Online Business

We can assume you are serious and ready to take the right steps to achieve increased visibility for your business in your market place. One of the most inexpensive and logical steps is to keep your business open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by having a business website on the Internet. One of the first things to be aware of when deciding how to get a business presence on the Internet is that not all websites are alike, perform equally well, and command the same amount of attention from prospective customers. And not all website designers offer as much value for your dollar. From the very start in building your online business, you should employ smart strategies for making your website visually appealing, for enabling visitors to easily navigate to your important information, for demonstrating quality in all aspects of your website’s design and content, and for optimizing your site so visitors are more likely to find it. All of these can set you apart from your competition. Creating Visual AppealA beginning strategy is making sure your website has visual appeal, by selecting attractive and high-quality graphics, and once selected use these graphics to guide both your overall site design and individual page designs. Think about what type of images would catch the eye of your prospective customers, and would simultaneously help convey your business messages. Communicate your image ideas to web designers, and see if you feel comfortable they can convert your ideas into good graphics. Be sure to ask website designers to show you a portfolio of their webpage banners, business logos, in-page graphics, and related web images, so you can choose a designer capable of good graphic designs.Your website goals should include displaying graphics that help you stand out in your industry, and that give a consistent look and feel to your website. You want your website to give you an identity your visitors will remember. An attention-grabbing banner at the top of each webpage, as well as other attractive graphics placed artistically within your webpages, will go a very long way in holding visitor interest, and in compelling them to navigate to and read the rest of your website. Providing Easy Navigation to Important Online InformationA second important strategy to maintain visitor interest, and to increase the potential for building your business with new customers, is to provide easy ways for them to navigate to all your website pages. After all, how many times have you abandoned a website out of frustration because you could not find easy and consistent ways to get from page to page, or from one topic to another? Make a point to look at the website examples offered by website designers, as well as the designers’ own websites, to ensure they understand how to carefully craft website menus and other convenient links between webpages. Do their websites show that they can design with the visitor in mind, so you ultimately will have happy online visitors and potential customers? Do their website designs provide frequent but tastefully displayed information on how to contact the website business owners or representatives?When you are ready to provide online shopping with your website, make a short list of features you discovered in online shopping carts that you liked as a customer. Then ask website designers what they could provide in a shopping cart to see if they can deliver a user-friendly, secure cart that meets your requirements and supports your methods of doing business. Select a designer who makes sure your website is designed with user-friendly navigation, so visitors see the information they seek and you want them not to miss. This includes your product and service information– perhaps made accessible in a well-designed online catalog– and other important web content such as special sales and events. Demonstrating Quality Website Design and Web ContentAnother strategy for promoting the success of your online business is paying sufficient attention to the details of your website design and web content. Web content includes both text and graphics on webpages. As part of your website package, your designer should ensure that your online business messages are clear, complete, and enticing– just as you would expect in any quality advertisement in a print magazine. Your website pages also should be checked for spelling or grammatical errors, since that type of care is perceived as an indication of the quality of your products and services. You want a website designer who will present you with draft webpages for your review and input, and subsequently will finalize them so each page looks complete and polished, and provides quality information that is accurate and consistent with your online business goals.Just as you make considerable efforts to attract new customers and to keep existing customers, the website designer you want will pay attention to those details that deliver a quality website at an affordable price. Further, whether you begin with a basic or a more advanced website, your designer should incorporate ways to provide fresh online content that can appeal to your visitors and increase your potential to grow your business. Providing new, timely online content is characteristic of a quality website– one with potential for continual notice by prospective customers and search engines (see Optimizing Your Website below). These are all ways to optimize your website for satisfied viewing by visitors and your potential customers. Optimizing Your WebsiteWill the website designer you select give your website at least a first level of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? SEO is the art and business of designing and marketing a website so it appears higher in the search results of desired search engines such as Google. SEO is important because it helps enable your website to be found by people looking for your types of products and services. Ask website designers if their website design offers include any SEO, and if they offer a level of SEO that fits your initial budget. Also ask them how they will enable fresh web content on your website at timely intervals. Further, ask them to explain in laymen’s terms what is meant by page optimization, reciprocal links, search engine submission, online business listings and directory submission, and website promotion. Here are some basic definitions to give you a start:
Page Optimization: Designing and modifying elements of each of your webpages, so that search engines can easily navigate them and will find their content useful enough to promote your website higher in their ranking catalog. Reciprocal Links: A pair of active links– one link going from one of your webpages to a webpage on another site, and a second link from that site to one of your webpages. The more reciprocal links you establish, generally the increased potential you have for your website to appear higher in a search engine’s search results. Search Engine Submission: Signing a website up with a search engine company (such as Google), so they can rank the website for its interest and usefulness to people searching the Internet. Online Business Listings and Directory Submission: Submitting your business profile and website address (or URL) to an Internet company, for inclusion in their online business listings or directory. Website Promotion: Advertising your website in print media, by various online methods (such as online ads, business listings, and published articles), on the physical premises (if any) of your business, and other methods. Each of the above considerations will be a factor in whether your business gets a good, attractive, functional website design or a poor one.© Copyright 2008. Afford Ecommerce. All Rights Reserved.

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 programWeb 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!