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Web Design and Website Construction

A Website (homepage) contains design elements like the layout, colors being used, graphics, text size and fonts. It can also have technical features such as HTML, JavaScript, dynamic content, and the usage of a database.



The early age - static HTML

The inventors of the world wide web were dreaming about presenting documents in an universal way. “Make it possible to view documents with one software (browser) regardless of the program being used to produce them”. This was achieved by embedding control tags (like <h1>) into plain text. The browser would then choose a suitable font and font size to show (render) the document.

Thus static HTML websites were born.

That's what it is: HTML is just a technique to display documents. You can use different font sizes and font colors, (mainly static) images, table and list structures.

Couldn't we ...?
Static HTML was a great success. If we are talking about the Internet today then this is due to universal HTML format which is easy to understand and can be quickly implemented.

But designers became bored of the limited possibilities to present text and IT people wanted to have more functions (e.g. contact forms, database content). This lead to the introduction of new design techniques (e.g. JavaScript, Flash) and techniques to integrate computer programs into the website or to get the website (that is: what the visitor sees) being generated by a computer program.

Eureka! Dynamic HTML and CMS (content management system) were born.

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Dynamic HTML

Today nobody makes a website containing only static HTML. We always enhance appearance and appeal using JavaScript (popular for menus and small applets like a pop-up calendar) and Flash (introduction movie, animated graphics).

It is even possible to make a whole website with Flash and some design-driven customers choose this approach. But we must also realize that maintenance of Flash websites is more time-consuming and also search engines can't examine the content of a flash file.

Most people would agree that a mixture of HTML, JavaScript and Flash gives them most benefit.



Dynamic HTML with embedded Programs
Today people are not content with the presentation of static content. Almost everybody wants to have a inquiry form, bbs, chat system, blog etc. And this can only be achieved by embedding computer programs (PHP, Perl, C etc.) into the HTML pages.

Using embedded program code you can also ensure that presentation of certain design elements (header, footer, menu) is always the same.

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What is a Content Management System (CMS)

A CMS (content management system) takes this one step further. We don't have embedded program code anymore but we have a program (computer application) which enables us to generate the HTML the visitor sees when he selects our website.
Normally these systems use a database to store internal information as well as the data to be displayed.

By using a database driven CMS we can increase the functionality of your website (e.g. mailing lists, polls, banner administration, bbs, user registration, partner login etc).

Website update is normally much easier because you have to update the content (mainly text information) only; you don't have to update pages including header, footer and menu as displayed for the visitor.

Depending on the CMS you're using, the content can be rendered in multiple languages and this feature is very attractive to companies and organizations addressing international visitors.

CMS and dynamic HTML are not mutually exclusive! Most CMS systems either use JavaScript, Flash already internally or allow you to employ these techniques!

The main benefits of a CMS are:

  • Easy content administration
  • build-in user and permission administration
  • elements to structure the content (sections, topics)
  • build-in functions like newsletter, mailings, polls, banners, weblinks, download section, statistics
  • additional functions may be developed

As already mentioned above a CMS is a computer application and depending on the amount of functions integrated it takes a lot of time to develop such a program. I mean we're talking about years of work!
Quite a number of companies are offering commercial CMS for prices starting at around 10,000 USD plus a regular maintenance fee for changes/updates and code corrections.

On the other hand there are Open Source CMS systems and this means that you can download and use them free of charge.
If something should not be working you need to check the web for updates or you may have to pay somebody to fix it - or you fix it yourself.

There are great OpenSource CMS available and while we admire the people devoting their personal time to develop such a system it must be clearly said that they are in no obligation to fix a particular problem or to adjust the system to the wishes of a user.

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E-Commerce Websites

An e-commerce system is just another type of computer program. There are standalone programs available which you can integrate into a traditional Dynamic HTML website and there are systems which are integrated into a CMS.
We have extensive experience with standalone systems and with CMS system.

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First Choice Guidelines
While the actual content and design are up to the requirements of the customer we would like to give you some guidelines.
Follow these guidelines and you have a modern website and your customers and friends can also find you using a search engine (more about SEO -> reference).

  • name, address, location map, purpose of website, keywords etc
  • graphics to attract attention
  • links and banners -> important to improve search engine rating
  • inquiry, contact, order form etc.
  • SEO !
  • ensure easy maintenance
General information
Your main page should make clear exactly what products and services are on offer. It is also useful to include a “tagline” (general marketing slogan) that summarizes what the site or company does. Even well-known companies try to attract new customers and tell first-time visitors about the site's purpose. It is especially important to include an address, contact details and a location map.

It is also necessary to have keywords in your text and headings. Keywords are also placed within your website for search engines to find. Choosing the best keywords is difficult and there are many tools available claiming to do this for you. A good starting point is to type a few words that you think people would search for, then have a look at the top ten results.

Graphics
You may choose to include a map to show your location and/or the area covered by your business. We can provide custom made graphics and animation in order to generate more interest and attention from your potential audience.

Links and Banners
Links to other suitable web sites, for example, other businesses in your area and/or other organizations which could be of interest to your customers. Banners can be placed on partner sites that link to your site. This is an established method for increasing traffic to your site

Forms
Online forms can be added to your website, which are used to provide booking/order or information requests. The customers request will be sent to you via email in an easy to read format.

Search engine submission
A web page alone will not generate business for your company. The competition for a good ranking position on the Internet search engines is fierce. We identify your target audience, adapting the site and search engine strategy accordingly. We will then submit your web site to all the major web search engines depending on your desired audience.

Maintenance
It is important to keep the contents of your site up to date. For example the copyright notice, date and general text will need to be changed/updated on a regular basis. Outdated information either tells users the site is not being properly maintained or even worse the company is no longer in business, which does not inspire confidence in anyone thinking of using your services or buying from you.

First Choice Approach

Once you have chosen a solution that is right for you , we will begin to develop a basic layout with you. As each project is tailored to individual needs, we will discuss all the necessary requirements with you before and during the development of the website. We will also publish the homepage on the Internet at an early stage. You can then check the progress from the comfort of your office or home.

The final product will provide a professional look and feel to inspire confidence in your customers. We will also ensure that your web site is easy to navigate, quick to download and that it is displayed correctly by all the major web browsers. If you opt for a website with greater functionality, we will test all aspects before publishing it online.

Our rates are very reasonable and we would be delighted to provide any additional information you may need.

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