How we achieve your website design goals
Before we begin the design process, we consult with you to determine your website goals, requirements and budget. As well as discussing the type of website required, how often you plan to update it, the colour scheme, number of pages and type of content, we will also want to learn about your business, your target market and company branding, to ensure your website complements your marketing material.
For static, brochure-style websites, we will also need a sitemap or list of all the main sections, sub-sections and individual web pages to be included in your website, and, if you haven’t already written your website content, we will need a brief, two-line description of the content to be included on each page. Part or all of this description, which should include the key phrase(s) for the page, may be used later for search engine optimization (SEO). If you have not already done so, now is the time to plan your website.
After we’ve received all the information we need to design a website unique to your business, we begin creating a layout using web standard XHTML code and CSS (cascading style sheets); the layout design incorporates all the graphics, colour schemes, paragraph formatting and text styles that make your website unique and will include one or two menu bars with links to the main sections of your website, as well as any generic information, such as location and contact details, you wish to appear on every page of your site.
Depending on the type of website, we may first design a graphical layout in Photoshop. Once you have approved this layout, we splice the graphic into small segments and save each segment as individual image files which we incorporate into your website using HTML and CSS coding. Depending on the complexity of your website we will either upload to our client web server or take a snapshot of the home page for you to review.
After any revisions and once you’ve approved your website design, unless you are managing your own content, we add the content to each page. We format your text into easy to read paragraphs and/or information boxes and apply appropriate text and paragraph styles, such as headings, sub-headings and bullet points, and, where necessary, we crop, resize and enhance any accompanying photos and images.
In addition, we add page descriptions and keywords to the meta tags in the head section of each page, and we also add key phrases to page titles and title tags of links, as well as key phrases and/or appropriate descriptions to the alt and title tags of images. We also ensure that file names used for pages, graphics and photos are descriptive. These extras, serve three purposes:
- To aid SEO
The title tag is the first thing indexed by Google and other search engine robots. It is therefore important to include the key phrase of your web page in your title tag. Google also indexes the meta tags as well as the alt text in images with hyperlinks, and the title text in link tags. Repetition of the key phrase in these tags therefore aids SEO.
- To aid accessibility
Text readers used by the blind read the alternate text in images. The alternative text aids accessibility by describing the subject of the image. The alternative text also appears if an image fails to load properly and is therefore useful for determining whether it’s worthwhile clicking “show image”.
- To aid navigation
Menu bars and other links often use aliases – short names – to minimize the space they take up. Hovering over a link will inform visitors where the link will take them or what information will be provided when they click the link.
Once we’ve added and formatted all your content and added your meta tags, we check for browser compatibility and validate each page offline (through Dreamweaver) and online through W3C’s validator. We view your website pages in all popular web browsers (including older versions of IE) as well as on three different size and quality monitors and at different resolutions before and after uploading to your web host’s server.
Once your entire site is uploaded, we check for broken links, revalidate and view the pages on all our computers and browsers again. When we are satisfied everything is functioning correctly, we index your website’s URL with Google, Yahoo, MSN, Alexa and AboutUs.
By carrying out all these additional procedures will help drive traffic to your website, help your company gain credibility and ultimately result in increased sales.
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