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What the Web Isn’t

August 12th, 2018

You’re probably thinking about your new website in terms of what it will be and do. It’s equally important to consider it in terms of what it won’t be and shouldn’t be.

Imagine delivering sales presentations as epic poems, and telling your spouse about your love for her with a PowerPoint presentation. Obviously, it won’t work well. The web’s exactly like any other medium- ideally suited for certain tasks, clunky for others, and downright silly for some. If you go into the web development process with a clear understanding of what websites aren’t good replacements for, you’ll make choices which produce a better website.

Websites are NOT desktop applications.

If you’re looking at developing a website as a replacement for software that once ran on your internal network or PCs, you may come in dreaming that your new website will be essentially the same environment, only living in a Firefox or IE window. This mindset, carried too far, can result in significant added complexity, and potentially limit the benefits you’re getting by moving to the web. It often means ignoring the things which make the Web a usable place.

First, users have far more control over the flow of a website session than if you work with a desktop application. Although you can provide navigation, the odds are fairly strong that users will instead click the “back” and “forward” buttons to make their way through a multiple stage process. Some users tend to open new browser windows at certain steps in the procedure. This becomes dangerous when you use frames or AJAX technology to provide a site where parts of the site stay in place as you change others. If you click “Back” on the browser instead of the site’s own “Go Back” control, you may find yourself returned to the beginning of a multi-stage task, or worse yet, stranded with no easy route back to the start or where you were before.

The news isn’t all bad there: you can often design to exploit this situation. A user who can open a new browser window is less likely to become stranded because they can’t get the information needed to proceed, and some tasks obviously make sense to present as “click the back button and try again”.

Second, websites should be “self-contained” when possible. Even if you can’t have the databases and the code on the same machine, you can at least strive to move the whole assembly onto remote hosting. Many desktop applications, especially for a business’s internal use, rely on a server for the office. Every PC in the office draws information from that. If you follow the same model for your website, you end up still having to take care of the office server, AND constantly monitor its connectivity to the website.

Finally, performance characteristics are going to be different on the Web. Desktop applications are frequently processor- or disc-limited, but graphics are essentially free. In comparison, web servers generally have adequate processor and disc resources, which are constrained by fairly limited transfer performance to the user. You might find you get better responsiveness by devoting more time to processing data, if it can avoid the transfer of unnecessary large images or intermediate tables.

-Websites are NOT PDF files. You all know PDF files- those little “land mines” of the web, which unexpectedly spawn a slow-to-load plugin and a 5Mb download. Their saving grace is that they generally look the same on every computer you view them on. If a 1040 has to look a certain way, fine, use a PDF. If the document is really destined for printing, then it’s okay to force specific font sizes and page layouts that look good when printed. There are, however, just as many situations- such as product specifications and data sheets- where the target is the screen- and site owners seem incapable of converting these documents to true Web documents.

Replacing a bloated PDF with a comparable set of HTML and images often results in faster loading, improved browser compatibility and stability (with no external plugin required, browser crashes and hangs are much less common), and less clumsy navigation (PDFs tend to throw off the “back” button’s behaviour)

Even those site owners who avoid using PDFs directly often want to turn their web site into the functional equivalent of a PDF file- they’ll attempt to force the use of certain fonts, colours, and in some cases even browsers in an attempt to control the presentation of the page. While a reasonable amount of corporate style is entirely acceptable, and can improve your image online, you can’t hold a lot of hope for everyone seeing your site exactly the same. Eventually you will have a user on a mobile phone, or a person with fonts enlarged to accommodate weak eyes, and your vision will collapse. In that situation, the best approach is to plan to let it collapse gracefully- ensure the navigation and content can still be read even under adverse conditions.

Websites are NOT TV commercials.

I’m sure you’ve went to more than one website which had a huge Flash introduction, followed by two screens of text which add up to maybe three paragraphs. This is the web’s answer to a 30-second TV spot.

Think about what you can’t do in a 30-second TV spot- these sites have the same problem.

-You can’t sell effectively to multiple audiences.

-You can’t provide detailed specifications.

-You can’t build a community or resource that people will come back to. How often do you watch old commercials for their informative value?

Some people might hope to use websites primarily to build brand awareness, or as a teaser, by which to “force” your potential customers into contacting you for more information. Both of those assumptions are naive.

First, it’s only practical to build brand awareness alone when you’ve got a huge audience. This is the mindset behind Super Bowl ads- if you’re lucky, enough people will remember you’re the belching hamster company and see what you’re about. An ad on the Super Bowl reaches 60% of the TV audience at the time. Even the most popular websites- Google and Yahoo- reach 30% or less of the web-user population on a given day, according to traffic-analysis firm Alexa. For a more typical example, the site rated as the 37,249th most popular site on May 8th, 2007 only reached about 11 out of every million web users that day.

Second, users resent being steered into making contact with you. Bandwidth and storage have never been cheaper, so there’s very little excuse not to provide detailed information on your website. If everything is a “call us for more details” message, many users will bounce. They’ll either be concerned that the company isn’t professional or capable enough to adequately fill out its own website, or suspicious that they’ll have to sit through solicitations once they make contact with you.

Websites are not TV itself either.

People have been trying to turn the web into TV at least since Internet Explorer 4 and its “Channel Bar”. It’s a terrible metaphor. The Web offers so much more than TV.

-Television tends to offer a selection of content that’s a mile wide but six inches deep, while the Internet is both wide and deep. If I want more information on a subject once a show has ended, the show itself rarely provides me with options. A well-planned website will provide both its own resources and links to quality sites, allowing me to go as far as I want in the topic.

-There are no “Channels” on the Internet. If I turn on a TV station, particularly a cable one, they’re going to stick fairly close to their target subject matter. It’s not like they’re suddenly going to make pastry on the Cartoon Network. This is perfect for a passive medium- the program changes every 30 minutes for you, but doesn’t wander far from home.

The Internet is more active. You choose both when to leave one site and where you’re going next. Therefore, the click of a link corresponds to BOTH the click of a remote (switching to an entirely new line of content) and a change of show (switching to new content on the same theme) If you start organizing your site content into “channels”, it tends to encourage to restrictions on navigation, trying to ensure that the user doesn’t jump into a different “channel” too easily.

A “channel” mindset may also result in dividing content in ways that don’t match up with user’s expectations, just to fit into the existing set of channels, or an imposing proliferation of channels.

A good example of this is the otherwise excellent Craigslist. They organized their classified ads into types of merchandise. These are classic channels- once you get in one, the navigation doesn’t provide an obvious way to jump into another. As a result, if you’re looking for an item which doesn’t fit clearly into one of the categories, it’s common to make several wrong guesses before finding the “right” category. Furthermore, once you find the “right” category, you’ll probably miss any ads which were placed in the “wrong” category.

If content has to be divided, there are some interesting approaches which can help to lessen these problems:

-Wider categories reduce the ambiguity about where the desired content will be found.

-A site could present a category and still have links to its conceptual “neighbours”.

Alternatively, the default view could include the neighbouring categories to ensure overlapping content is made available.

-Heirarchical categories (like many online shops) avoid the risk of a menu with 500 categories.

-Tags instead of fixed categories allow users to arrange the content in ways that make sense to them.

The key to successful web development is to recognize and cooperate with the foibles and strengths of the medium. If you choose to design by metaphor, ensure that you’re not becoming caught up in the parts of the metaphor which won’t work on the web.

Why Should You Trust WordPress For Your Development Projects?

August 11th, 2018

Launched in 2003, WordPress is an open source content management system (CMS) platform with an ever-growing market share and popularity. Over the years, it has gone from strength to strength to reach the top position in the domain. At present, it captures a whopping 65% share of the CMS market and even better, is responsible for close to 25% of all websites in the world. Both the states are staggering and it shows the kind of domination this feature-rich and advanced platform currently enjoys in the market. Not to forget, it’s the force powering close to 80 million blogs in the world.

Quite clearly, WordPress is miles ahead from its rivals when it comes to popularity and usages across the world. All this has become possible due to its richness of advanced features and powerful functionalities that have truly redefined the space of web development. It’s a free platform therefore giving businesses an opportunity to edit it and redistribute it without having to shell out any money. What’s more, it’s not only a blogging platform but also supports in development of websites of any scale and variety. It gives developers a lot of flexibility and options to build websites or apps of own choices.

Similarly, WordPress is a kind of CMS platform that comes packed with a whole array of plugins and themes to help businesses extend their functionality to a great level and boost their productivity. Be it an e-commerce website or a blog or a video website or a custom websites or anything of that kind – this platform is capable of developing them all to support the pace and growth of your business. More so, it’s not only SEO-friendly but also comes packed with a variety of SEO plugins to help websites, products and services rank better and gain superior visibility on the internet.

More so, WordPress is extremely easy to use and it has built-in features for user management, RSS feeds and blog publishing etc. Developers find this platform easy to work with and it’s always easy to customize with, and changes to its design, features, and colours can be done easily. Like other open source technologies, it also has a massive community of ever-growing users and developers who take upon themselves to troubleshoot any problem people face with this platform. Not to forget, it does not have dearth of reference guide, help material and other online resources needed for people to leverage it full.

What’s more, WordPress is a secure platform and it adopts a layered approach to security. Regular updates are available which helps keep sites and apps secure and away from any risks. More so, it’s compatible with other software and technologies which helps take its reach to further. In overall, WordPress is quite a beneficial platform your business should rely for web development purposes. It has all those features that will give your business an edge in a domain where the level of competition is rising. So, choose your CMS with care and make your business flourish and realize its goals easily.

Things to Consider When Looking For the Best Web Design Company

August 10th, 2018

Websites are the heart of every online venture that you should be aware of! It should provide relevant information along with pleasant viewing to all its users, achieved through quality web development and designing services. With advancements in the field of internet marketing and web technologies, now the market is over-flooded with avowedly best design company. Therefore, selection of a good website company has become a tricky task. If you want to reach to any worthy decision, consider these following points before finally venturing out on any web design company:-

• Experience- A best designing company with years of experience is undoubtedly competent in understanding customer needs and requirements, rendering relevant solutions. Experience helps in honing expertise that directly impacts productivity. A web design company rendering services like Application development, SEO, brand building, etc for years should be kept on top of the list.

• Service portfolio- always make sure to check a web design company’s service portfolio. Go through the range of service packages provided by the company along with their expertise level in every domain of website designer. The richer the service portfolio of the company, the better the chances of receiving multifarious design solutions under a single roof.

• Methods of working- checking on the workflow as well as the work procedures followed by an apparently best web design company will save you from the unnecessary worries and troubles. Those companies following unorganized and complicated workflow will demand your presence, delaying web designing and development projects unnecessarily. Talk about their working methods and go with systematic and simplified one. This will save your time and money, ensuring timely submission of assigned projects.

• Reputation- Get ready to do a thorough research on the some best known companies to know more about their company profile along with their market reputation to reach to a decision. Go through the company website, check their clientele and accomplishments and don’t miss out on their client’s feedback. Or simply search over the internet to find information about the company through online forums, communities and groups. Never trust a web design company without checking its credibility.

• Cost effectiveness-.It is vital to measure the cost effectiveness of the company’s web design solutions. Check whether the company is out of your pockets or not and for that you can even ask for quotations from some best designing companies. Compare your needs with the company quote to get cost effective web design solutions at affordable rates.