Conquering website basics
The web site is your magazine. You are publishing a highly interactive collection of columns on any subject you can think of, providing that the web site sticks to a certain content category.
The webmaster is the publisher, the designer is the editor and paired with a SEO expert and a graphic artist, the few html pages that are bound to become “the web site” are off to the cyberspace.
Now that you got a publishing house and decided what content you site shall provide, a handful of design concerns are due to emerge in the process, and due to the ever evolving nature of the internet and the technologies involved, a great many will emerge after the publishing process has been completed. A webmaster is there for that reason, keep in touch with the present and prevent the website from being stacked up in internet’s shed and lose all its traffic.
Ah, yes, traffic. This is the gold of the cyber world. Domain names, pictures, content, mailing lists are assets and good content is the key of bringing people over. Just sign in for my newsletter and you shall find out why.
For typical commercial Web sites, the basic design concerns are:
• Design: determined by the content and its category
• Content: the most important piece of the puzzle, the substance of the website and the key to “Search Engine Optimization”. Content relevance to the goals and the targeted public is paramount to the success of the site.
• Usability: Just see how Google gets to be on top… with such a simple interface. For the visitor, the easiness to reach the goal (which is not necessarily contained in the “marketing pitch” the site was designed around) is essential to further referring the site, linking to it or just submitting articles to social directories like digg.com which in turn, generate the so much needed extra traffic (that you are trying to retain and convert to the goals of the site). Just check out the billions of dollars worth of free publicity Apple gets only from the upcoming iPhone or from AppleTV.
• Consistency: the site looks and feels in a consistent and professional way. The appearance should include a single style (try using stylesheets to create a standard look for various objects on the site) that flows throughout. There are a few keywords about the style : clean, decent, simple, emphasize content even if the content IS pictures or videos.
• Readability: after all, the TEXT of the site is what got visitors in, even for the site that sells desktop wallpaper.
• SEO: The graphic designer and the SEO expert don’t usually get along very well. Optimizing the site for search engines is crucial to visitors coming to check out the content. Graphics should complement the text and make it easier to read while providing a relaxing environment for browsing the site. The site needs good old text and plain links to get noticed by search engines.
A nice and easy way to get started and conquer the basic design question: “How should the site look like?” can be overcome by using a website template like the ones at http://store.templatemonster.com/?aff=badulescu. Web templates are great ice breakers in the process of getting a website on its way.
Make sure the template, if you buy one, does not make a hole in your pocket at this stage though, the site needs to bring at least enough money to survive on its own.