Web Development

web-development
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Creating effective, successful websites starts with deciding what you want to achieve with your website. From selling products to building loyalty, a website can be the biggest asset for any business. With my web development expertise, I can teach you to create the website you need, or I can develop it for you.

Websites can be created for the internet (public) or a specific intranet (private) depending on what your goals are. Do you want to build an e-commerce business? Do you want to grow your customer base? Do you want to create your own platform to promote your business? A website can help to do this for you and much more.

All websites are essentially made from code written in HTML, PHP, CSS and JavaScript. All websites are made from HTML or Hyper Text Markup Language which gives the skeleton to every webpage structure. PHP is a powerful server-scripting language that allows you to extract and input data into a database. CSS refers to the style sheet where your website’s preferred fonts, colours and styles are defined. JavaScript is a scripting language designed to add interactivity to webpages and creating web applications.

While large corporations and organizations might have massive teams of website developers, small businesses do not need to break the bank to create their own website. By utilizing an understanding developer who specializes in CMS-based websites, you can create a website that you can manage on your own for a nominal fee.

CMS based websites refer to website that include a user-friendly content management system to allow users to log into an administration panel and perform certain updates without the help of a website developer. A CMS can help a user to create new content, view statistics, moderate comments, manage spam and much more.

Common types of CMS:

With two years of experience in Drupal, two years experience with Joomla! and five years experience with WordPress, the preference to use WordPress is a strategic decision as much as a personal preference. WordPress offers everything that Drupal and Joomla! does, but with the added benefit of being built with SEO and social media in mind.

By specializing in website development with social media and SEO as the main priorities, we ensure that our website are not only easy to manage and update, they are easy to share and find online. This holistic view helps to optimize the potential of a business’s online efforts.

What do I need to create a website?

Strategy & Goals. Before you contact a web developer, you need to decide what you want to do with your website and what your main goals are. Write down your strategy and objectives along with your key metrics for measuring the success of your business.

Content. Get your content together as soon as possible. This step is often the hardest and longest part of the website development process, yet it is also the most neglected and forgotten. Either pay someone to write your content or start doing it yourself as soon as you can. Your content will drive a large part of your website development quotation because it will dictate the amount of pages your website will need.

Brand Identity & Artwork. Write down your brand identity in one succinct document that describes your logo, taglines, keywords, main descriptions, fonts, colours, and anything else that needs to be translated onto your online platform.

Brief your Developer. Compile all the information you have gathered thus far and give your web developer a copy. Give your developer a preferred time frame and budget for the project and ask for a detailed quote for both the initial development and subsequent security and maintenance.

Website hosting and domain

Every website needs a domain name and a host or server where their files are stored. A domain name is your website address, for example www.marilize.co.za. A host or server is a paid service that allows you to securely host your website for public access.

A proper domain name helps to make a business appear professional and it strengthens the brand identity. Buying the right domain name is like buying the perfect business premises: it allows you to mark your corner in the market space and start trading online professionally.

A few things to consider when choosing a domain name:

  • Keep it short (maximum 6 characters – see my post about ideal domain name word counts)
  • Use keywords that people search for and which define your business
  • Target your area
  • Avoid hyphens and numbers
  • Be memorable and unique
  • Research it to ensure it’s not copyrighted or in use
  • Use the correct extension –.com vs .co.za
  • Protect your brand by purchasing all your extensions as well as misspelled versions of your brand name
  • Act fast to avoid missing out on the perfect domain name for your business

Setting up a new website does not have to be difficult or time consuming. If you enlist the right people to help you with the right things at the right time, you can save big in the long run. The right developer will keep best practices for web development in mind during the entire process.

Best practices for web development

According to Mad Science Development Lab, these five web design practices are essential for a great website:

  1. Compelling Layout Design. Attractive layout design captures the attention of its audience and retains it successfully. A compelling layout requires a good use of basic design principles, such as a consistent header, logo and navigation elements among web pages; good contrast between the text and the background; perfect alignment of elements; and a good balance between text, links and images on the page.
  2. Balanced Use of Colour, Graphic and Multimedia. The most irritating and off-putting websites those who have too much colour, mismatched colour combinations and too many interactive features. A well-balanced website uses three to four colours and it combines different types of visual components, including colour, images, videos and slideshows in a clean, sophisticated manner.
  3. Well Organized Content. The look and feel of a website welcomes visitors, the content keeps them around. Plan an organized and consistent presentation of content, use colours and styles consistently and present text in a quick, readable fashion.
  4. Easy, Error-free Navigation. Navigation is the roadmap for your users and it starts with ensuring that all links work properly, navigation links are clearly labelled, and your breadcrumbs and sitemap are available.
  5. Good overall functionality. At the most basic level, good functionality means that all internal and external links work, there are no JavaScript errors and all forms functions as they should. Websites must work perfectly regardless of the device they are used with.

User experience (UX) matters most

If you want your users to keep returning to your website, the experience must be enjoyable and worthwhile. To find out what users want from their online experience, it helps to look at how they use online resources.

According to Smashing Magazine, users’ habits on the web isn’t that much different from customer’s habits in a store:

  • Users appreciate quality and credibility.
  • Users don’t read, they scan.
  • Website users are impatient and insist on instant gratification.
  • Users don’t make optimal choices.
  • Users follow their intuition.
  • Users want to have control.

Effective website design keep the following principles in mind:

  • Don’t make users think – design intuitively and get rid of all question marks
  • Don’t squander users’ patience – keep tools simple and remove all barriers to entry
  • Manage to focus users’ attention – direct users’ attention with key elements
  • Strive for feature exposure – show users all available features immediately
  • Make use of effective writing – employ proper online copywriting
  • Strive for simplicity – keep it simple and remember that users want content, not design
  • Don’t be afraid of white space – remove complexity and keep space open
  • Communicate effectively with a ‘visible language’ – organize, economize and communicate your content consistently
  • Conventions are our friends – reduce the learning curve and follow users expectations
  • Test early, test often – catch problems and identify issues early

Read more about Web Development on my blog: Web Development Blog Post

Are you keen to create a website of your own, but you don’t know where to start? Send me an email on info@marilize.co.za or leave a comment below. I’d love to help you get the website you’ve always wanted, for a price you can afford.