Website design has gone through a number of significant changes since the early days of brochure pages and animated e-mail links. For small businesses, the variety of choices can often be more of an impediment than an advantage. The confusion of trying to decide which technology to use, which devices to optimize for, and how to incorporate important considerations like search optimization, e-commerce, security, and multimedia features can increase expense, add unnecessary delay, and frustrate even the most patient executives.
The good news is, a lot of these problems can be solved by choosing the proper structure of a site in the early phases of design. Good design encourages good technology choices and reinforces proper structure, which will elicit positive developments in all areas web sites are necessary. Here are some things to consider while building up your own website.
Uniqueness vs. Standards
Over the course of the last 25 years, web users have become accustomed to certain conventions when it comes to how a site is structured. Users expect to find links in a “menu bar” at or near the top of the page, for example. If your links are elsewhere, it causes delay and confusion for site visitors and can often end up costing you a sale.
When in doubt, adhere to the standards of site design to avoid confusing your customers. Basic links should appear where users expect to find them. Certain kinds of links like about pages, e-mail links, downloads, and purchases should be present or at least visible and connected to other parts of the site. These basics will help your company decide what to include and where to make it available.
It is vitally important for your company to choose the right web host. Business Internet packages exist for nearly any size company at a number of price points. Domain & Hosting services that offer secure site certificates, e-commerce, electronic payment integration, and secure shell logins, should be sought out as early as possible as they will be able to advise your technology specialists how your site’s basic hosting should be configured. All software problems are inherently hardware problems. The decisions you make when you set up the hosting for your site will have a dramatic effect on the way you build your web pages and how those pages operate. Make certain your early decisions are the right ones.
Content Management Systems
Over the course of the last ten years, free and low-cost software has been developed that makes it far easier for a new or small business to manage and control the content that appears on their web site. These technologies are called “content management systems” or CMS. The best example is the WordPress blogging software.
WordPress was designed to be extensible and quite flexible. Its purpose is to help a user organize their work in reverse chronological order, making the newest work visible first. Because of its various conventions, it can solve almost every structural problem on a website with just a few settings. This is a technology that should be at the top of the candidate list when a company is deciding how to set up their web site.
Structure and design are always going to be connected, and it is for this reason that good decisions have to be made when configuring one or the other. When your decisions are sound, you will find the entire process of building a site becomes easier.
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