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Can I Do My Own Website?
Many businesses or individuals in Windsor who want a website commonly ask the question: "Can I develop my own website?" The short answer to this question is yes, absolutely. In fact, developing a simple website is easier now than it ever has been. Programs such as Macromedia's Dreamweaver or Microsoft Front Page have made it easy to develop web pages with little to no skill. Simply pick a pre-made template, type in your text, add a couple of pictures and voila! You have yourself a website, right? Well, sort of.
The simple fact of the matter is, you can't expect to develop a professional looking, tightly coded, website just by plugging your text into a pre-made template with a code generation tool. Yes, software has greatly improved over the years with how it generates HTML, the markup code that defines the structure of your web pages, but generated code will always be bulkier, and less efficient than hand coded HTML pages.
Most professionals in Windsor develop their HTML pages by hand. In fact, most page developers rarely ever use anything but a text editor to generate their pages. Professional page developers will use HTML for what it was developed for, to describe the structure of a page, and encapsulate the content of said page via the markup tags relevant to the content at hand. What does all that mumbo jumbo mean? Well, simply put, it means that a professional web page developer is going to structure a page correctly, using the correct tags, not just using tags that look right when a page is rendered to the browser. A professional page developer never concerns himself with how the HTML makes a page look, HTML is there to structure a page, not describe how the style is defined. Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) describes how the nicely structured pages should look when rendered to the browser. Moreover, the developer structures his/her pages so they render correctly in all browsers, a task that the code generators fail miserably at most times.
What's In Your Page Source?
Alright, I will be the first to admit that most people don't care how bulky their web pages are or how inefficient they are coded. Granted, most visitors are on high-speed internet and those extra 500 milliseconds your page takes to load isn't going to matter, right? Again, sort of. You always have to be aware of how long your pages are taking to load, and how responsive they are for your visitors. Studies have shown that an average user will wait about 10 seconds for a page to load before they navigate away out of frustration. I have a feeling that this study was done before the vast majority of users had high-speed internet. I suspect that tolerance to waiting is actually much lower.
Experienced web developers and web designers will always optimize their images, and HTML to load as quickly as possible. Images that are not properly compressed can easily be 5 times larger than a properly compressed image. Improperly compressed images can easily increase a web page load by 5-10 seconds!
One of the biggest detriments of doing your own web development is the lack of search engine optimization. One of the most common causes of websites having poor search engine rankings is because the page is full of HTML errors which throw off the search engine crawlers. Web pages that are not structured correctly, and have a lot of styling information inline with the content will never rank well compared to websites that are structured correctly with nice clean content.
So does this mean that if you do your own website, you won't ever get listed in the search engines? Of course not, but if a professional web designer or web developer programs your HTML pages, your pages are much more likely to get indexed correctly. Moreover, most web developers will put a link from their well indexed site to your new site, which will further help the crawlers find your site quicker. If your developer is experienced in search engine optimization (SEO), that will even further liken your chances to high rankings in the search engines.
How's It Going To Look?
Ok, so we have established that yes you can do your own website. It might be coded terribly, and not rank well in the search engines, but you are still determined to do it yourself. Quick question, how is the site actually going to look? If you are a good designer, and can make a nice picture of how you want your site to look, you can use your code generator to make it look the same right? Not quite.
Getting your website to look the same as what you had envisioned is a very tricky proposition for an inexperienced web designer. Developing for the web is very different from developing a page for traditional print. In traditional print, you have a fixed canvas (the page), whereas on the web, you have several variables to contend with. First, you have no idea what resolution your users will be viewing your web-pages at when developing your website. What looks good at 1024x768 might look terrible at 1280x1024 resolutions. To further complicate things, different browsers can show the exact same HTML much differently. Specifically, Internet Explorer based browsers use a different engine than Gecko based browsers (Mozilla, Firefox etc). It can be truly frustrating even for experienced developers to try and keep things looking the same across the board, but for a do-it-yourselfer it can be an impossible task.
Ok, let's say you've tackled all the compatibility issues. How will the website actually look when it's done? Will it look professional? Or, will it look like a do it yourself site? If your website is being used for business, what image do you waAnt to attach to your company?
Are You Scared Now?
It really isn't my intent to suggest that you shouldn't try to develop your own website. I still maintain that a lot of people can develop a fairly decent site themselves, especially if they have a basic understanding of HTML and a fairly good design sense. One good approach to doing it yourself is to have a web developer that you can consult with on some of the more technical issues. You can save a lot of money by doing it yourself and letting your developer check your work for any major issues with the web pages. Many web developers in Windsor will gladly check your pages over at an affordable hoAurly rate, correcting any major issues.
Having a developer to walk you through some of the more technical aspects of web developing can be a very sound approach if you want to do your own web programming. You really do have to weigh the hourly rate of checking the code against the cost of having the developer program everything.
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The Internet can be seen as a collection of a wide variety with a frequent mix of personal and professional web spaces. The Internet was meant to be a platform for imparting knowledge to the masses at the time of its birth. But now it has come a long way to be a place where the users worldwide connect, interact, and communicate themselves through websites and web applications. Today even the businesses run online with their online productivity overshadowing their real world productivity. The web has become an inimitable marketplace for people to buy and sell all kinds of products and services.
Web development lifecycle starts with the inception of a thought for having a web application that does the business processing for the individual or the company. The ideas are revised and reevaluated before going further and determining the scope and requirements of the web application. On specifying the business requirements the companies move a step ahead in starting with the actual web application development. Web development is a specialized area of work which involves an understanding of the web development technologies and all other related processes. Web developers do not automatically produce a fine website on demand. They must be communicated and made to understand the exact expectations of the web application. On learning the features and functionalities of the web application the web developers build a precise web application and deploy it online for faster business processing.
The web development technology is in itself a collection of technologies and computer programming languages that are used to create and run a computer program. Some of the popular and essential custom web application development technologies to be learnt by the web developers are HTML, XML, Flash, Perl, CSS et al. A computer language is a way to communicate to the computer by the user to process the output in accordance with the desired logic. Web application development is much more than just writing computer programs in specific programming languages and running the program to get the desired outputs. Web development is a branch of computer science that involves connecting thousands of millions of computers together and running an intercommunicating program on them.
Leaving the intricate details of the web development technology we discuss the general public usage of the Internet. Cutting edge technology today enables the end user to develop a fully functional website and publish information online. There are many content management systems like Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress that help the users get a personal and professional website and manage it free of all the inner development hassles. The web developers materialize the complexities of the web development by creating a user platform that helps the non-technical users to become web enthusiasts. Though, the technical personnel are always called up to troubleshoot problems encountered by the users.
Talking of web applications there is always a mention of fast applications that improve the user experience by processing the output swiftly and presenting it without the need of refreshing the webpage. Such client-server web applications are called Rich Internet Applications (RIA) and are built using web development technologies such as Adobe Flex, Microsoft Silverlight, and AJAX in collaboration with server-side scripting languages like ASP.NET, PHP, Ruby, and others. All the rich Internet applications are enthralling and provide an engaging interactivity to the users. A typical RIA is a web-based application that runs on the client browser and synchronizes data with the server database while functioning as conventional desktop based software. Hence the users get desktop like features and functionalities from the web.
For a professional web development company having comprehensive knowledge about the web development technologies like.Net and PHP and having significant experience and commendable expertise over developing custom web applications is a prerequisite. The web development company can cater clients globally as the company can reach out to a maximum target audience through the Internet. Before delivering the final application these companies need to look for a resounding web presence by resolving issues like browser compatibility, accessibility, and web standards. Web standards in particular have been put in place to ensure that websites meet their fundamental purpose if communicating with a user.
The business and markets for web development is not new. Web development has always been there since the time of the Internet itself just that it has evolved over the time and is accelerating its evolution every time. With custom web application development being a wide prospect, more and more web development services providers are partnering organizations around the world in getting their businesses superior web representations.
we provide excellent Web Development Services to its client at an affordable rate. We provide robust, secure and scalable web solutions using latest technologies like ASP.NET, PHP, Flex, Silverlight and many others. Using these latest technologies, we have successfully delivered numerous projects in different industry verticals like Finance, Retail, Ecommerce, Real Estate, Hospitality, Consulting, Music, Oil & Gas etc.
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What do you think of your web developer?
Over the last few years we have quietly, but at every opportunity, been asking this question to business owners, marketing directors and executives responsible for their company website whether for commissioning, developing or maintaining their online presence. We also asked if they were happy with the website that the developer had provided, or if they thought it was bringing tangible benefit to their business. The responses were sharply divided. It seems that the businesses' experience of Web developers is like Marmite: you either love them or hate them.
Shockingly, over 80% of respondents reported a 'poor' or 'very poor' experience of working with a website developer or designer. Many made comments that were very uncomplimentary toward their web developers. Some stated that they felt they had been, "Taken for a ride," by those who had either baffled them with technology and jargon, or had - deliberately or otherwise - raised their expectations beyond what was feasible with the investment they were making. One had invested tens of thousands with a web development company to build an online presence for their business and now has a website that not only makes no contribution to any business objective, neither has it produced a single enquiry. The overall impression that we gained from our research to date and a term used by more than one unhappy respondent was that web developers are: "A load of cowboys."
These poor experiences have a knock-on effect, not just for those who have been unhappy with their outcomes but for the web development and internet marketing industries as a whole. It results in an increased conviction that all web developers were likely to be the same, and that there was no-one out there who could be trusted. In addition, the inclination to invest any further resources and capital on online promotion of their business was greatly reduced. "We've done that and it didn't work," was a common response.
What do the web developers have to say?
To balance the picture we also surveyed web developers and web design companies to see if we could identify what had created this tale of woe from businesses.
Many were unaware of the situation and some were quite frank in their derision of business owners. Common responses included
- "They don't know what they are doing,"
- "We're not telepathic you know!"
- "They don't understand what is involved."
- "We never get the right information."
- "They keep changing their minds, often before the previous changes are completed."
Each side seemed to blame the other for what might be interpreted as a straightforward breakdown in communication.
So why does this happen? There are no doubt numerous reasons, but focusing on the communication issue, we asked the web developers if they ever asked for, or received, a web design brief from their clients. The majority response was: "Rarely!" The design briefs received mostly consisted of a single page of vague information that lacked the detail and specifics required. Although they usually included requests for things that far exceeded the budget or amount the business owner was willing to spend and were full of wish lists and 'good' ideas that require bespoke development or even new technology (for the words 'bespoke' and 'new', read - interchangeably - 'difficult' and 'expensive')!
So whose job is it?
Isn't it part of the web developers' job to write the brief? Actually, no it isn't, it is the responsibility of the business owner to communicate their requirements, their goals, their current situation and future plans. After all, as more than one developer pointed out, "We're are not telepathic you know!"
In addition, the pressure of trying to keep a small web development business running (let alone in profit) in this ever increasingly competitive industry means that there is no time or other resources to be teaching the business owner how to write a web design brief, even though it would create a better outcome for everyone. For the majority of situations, there is often no clear or effective communication, more a case of asking questions of the business owner - which they often don't understand clearly, which is no-ones fault - to get some sort of outline and then on with the job of designing and building the website.
Our experience - Web developer
Our experience indicates that the majority of web developers really want to do the best job they can for their clients.
They have the skills and knowledge to build websites that could work for their clients' businesses. They have the equipment and resources to carry out the work. We also observe however that there are web developers who mistake the functionality of the software that they use for their own creative skills. Ultimately over a period of more than a decade we have encountered very few who would deliberately, "Take their client for a ride," as some businesses have claimed.
Our experience - Businesses
Websites for businesses create a particular quandary for the business owner, manager or similar. There seems to be a huge barrier of technology and jargon to break through to be able to even speak the same language as the web development world. In addition, it is very difficult for anyone without extended experience to make any kind of value judgement about what is good or bad. Consider a different situation: whether you eat in a restaurant often or not, because you do eat every day, if you go into a restaurant, it is possible to make some kind of judgement as to whether you had a good experience, whether the food was good, whether the service was acceptable or excellent. Of course this is subjective to your own preferences and experiences, but at least you understand what a restaurant is, what it is supposed to do or be for and so on.
In our survey we ask a further question of businesses: "What is your website for, why did you get a website?" Very few offered any kind of clear response, the most common being: "Because we needed a website," or "Because our competitors had one." We also hear: "To generate sales/leads/enquiries etc." quite often, which is at least focused on business, but is nowhere near specific enough to be called an objective.
If it is not common for businesses to even understand what the website is for, or why they are getting one developed, how can it be possible for them to make a judgment on what is good or bad, other than it produces no results. Even this judgement requires something to measure the results - or lack thereof - against.
Management by abdication
In so many cases the business abdicates responsibility for the website to a web developer in the mistaken belief that 'they know best'. While the web developer knows about websites, they are likely to know little or nothing about the client's business and even less about the customers who will use the website. Together with the lack of communication between the web developer and the business owner it is not difficult to see why so many websites are poorly designed, deliver bad user experiences and ultimately poor or no results for the business.
Is there a solution
The first step to a solution is to address the communication problem. It is clear that there must be effective communication and the first stage of this would normally take the form of a clear and concise website design brief.
The website design brief
The last time we reported on web design briefs we had surveyed 57 web development companies, further surveying has now brought this number to nearly 100. While everyone does it slightly differently, they all had information requirements in common.
- The document needs to be clear and concise,
- The document is prepared for someone outside your business who doesn't necessarily know anything about your business or industry. Even if they claim to have worked in your industry before, unless they are specialists, then you should assume nothing.
Its purpose is to state clearly your requirements, including:
- A profile of your business, its existing image, brand and products or other offerings including future plans
- The objectives of the site - stated clearly in terms that can be measured, not woolly 'to generate enquiries' or similar, think detail and be specific.
- The target market - who will be the users of the site, what will be their requirements?
- Functionality requirements - often expressed as an outline, and as a business owner you may not be able to describe this well, but for example, do you require online payments and if so are you already accepting credit cards in your business. - remember, adding functionality usually increases cost far more than increasing the number of pages in the site.
- The scale and scope of the development project - how big, how many pages, who will provide what and so on.
- What are the project constraints, budget, timescale etc.
This document is not a wish list (although you could include things that you would like to do as well as but not instead of the above), it is the document that the developer works to and effectively forms part of your contract with them and is therefore subject to discussion and revision before being finalised.
The commissioning of a website is a much bigger project than appears at the beginning. Websites are not 'job-and-finish' projects. You need to form a good relationship with your web developer because you will be working with them for a long time, and the first step to a successful relationship is sorting out the communication. It is your business, if you have articulated clearly what you want, why your business needs it, and provided all the information the developer requires including realistic expectations, budgets and timescales then if it isn't delivered to the brief then you can blame the web developer. Otherwise accept that it is your problem, not their fault that they are not telepathic.
Furthermore, you need to take responsibility for the project, but also recognise that the development of a website is a team game, not something to be simply handed over and then moaned about when it was not quite what you were thinking of.
If you are serious about selling online or using the internet to promote your business it is important to recognise that you need to make a considerable investment of time and effort or you might as well take your money and simply thrown up in the air!
Nigel T Packer established Business for Business in 1999 following a broad range of experiences in industry, commerce and the public sector. Business for Business is an internet marketing and eBusiness consultancy, specialising User experience and website promotion startegy. Business for Business also provides specialised training. http://www.businessforbusiness.co.uk
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