web site design

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What is involved? Your Aims are? What will it cost? Portfolio


Demystifying this valuable business tool

Listed in the South African web design company directory

In this day and age it has become imperative for every business to have a presence on the web by means of a website.

For many decision-makers in companies this is frightening because it seems an occult science.

Our aim, in offering to design and develop web sites on your behalf, is to:

web sites must
        always be 'under development'

Where is the internet economy going?

In the USA over 40% of small / medium businesses only survive because of the internet. The same can't be said in South Africa yet — we are always behind, but catching up.

do not be left
        behind

South Africa has the slowest and most expensive broad-band offering in the world - that is starting to chnge, but slowly. The penetration of boroad-band usage in South Africa has risen sharply to now be at 2% of internet users. In the next year, with the emergence of Neotel as an alternative to Telkom, the arrival of a new undersea cable linking Africa to the world, and the expansion of wireless technology (including cell-phone 3G and HSDPA) costs and availability will change dramatically for the better. 

Fin 24 + Broadband CoverageClick on Fin 24 logo  to  see article about whether there will actually be too much broadband coverage.

Things to do, and not to do, for success

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What is involved in building my web site?

Using Frames or divisions – Cascading Style Sheets – Pull-down menus 

— Web Hosting — E-Shop —  Cell Phones — Browsers

— Search Engine Optimisation

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Using Frames or divisions

A very effective way of designing a web site is to use frames. This means, for every page one vews, there are actually three files in view, (see diagram below, being:

  1. A top menu bar, which defines the main operational areas of your business. This top menu bar is static; that is, it is the same file for the whole site. This means any change needed is made once, and once only.
  2. A side context menu frame, which defines areas within that operational are.
  3. A main content page, with narrative text describing that specific functional area.

This page has been set up using internal links to enable quick and easy navigation within a lengthy document.

the parts of a web page frame-set

The use of frames was particularly popular in the early days of the world-wide web, but is not so popular any longer. However, the design style that looks like frames is still common — this site is using divisions.

The problem with frames is that each file takes space, often too much. If one uses divisions, these are set up as perentages. The divisions are defined in the style sheet. Suppose you have a header followed by content, and want the content in two columns. Define the division parameters with div=content; and div=left; then enter the left column content and close the div </div>; and enter div=right;.

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Cascading Style Sheets

Behind every visible web page is program code written in (usually) HTML - hypertext markup language - or PHP + MySQL. Because nobody knows what your operating software and the fonts installed are, an attempt is made to ensure that, if a font is not available on your machine, that a suitable alternative is used. So, in the HTML, each line of text says something like font-family=Verdana,arial,sans-serif. Verdana is the first choice. If not available use Arial, or any sans-serif font.

This can appear on every line, making the page larger and slower to load. A more elegant method is to use CSS - Cascading Style Sheets, which say, 'if this sort of paragraph use this sort of settings, font-face, size, colour etc. Not only is it more elegant, but the internet is evolving, and it is becoming a requirement that, for instance, one does not put any font definition in the page html code, but all should be in the attached style sheet.

By making a single change in the CSS code the whole site can change its appearance – going much further than just font faces.

This site, and every site we develop, is checked for valid html and css code: Valid HTML
          4.01 Transitional & Valid CSS!

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Pull-down menus

An optional way of constructing the site is to still have a top menu, but that is contained in every page of the site, so any changes have to be made to every page in the site. When a viewer hovers over an operational area, a menu list of contextual options opens - pulls down. 

This method can be effective, but involves extra cost and may not view as well on all browsers (Internet Explorer or others).

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Web Site Hosting

In order to make the site available to the widest possible audience, it is necessary to do three things - we would be involved in, and facilitating, this process —

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QEI Growth recommends for web site hosting click on image to visit their site

Browsers

There are many different browsers available. We recommend  seamonkey-downloadClick to download SeaMonkey. Most are share-ware (free).

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E-Shop

If you want to set up an online shopping environment — similar to that involved with www.amazon.com or www.orms.co.za — then you need to be using technology that is:

QEI Growth can develop in this technology. The site listed above under Frames - Cynergy - will soon incorporate this. It has a significant cost and time-to-develop implication. The technology used by us is PHP (PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor) with underlying MySQL database.

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Using Cell Phones to view Site

It is possible to create sites specifically to be cell-phone friendly. A site built using frames is not cell-phone friendly, but can be viewed well by a cell-phone web browser: from your WAP-enabled cell-phone (using GPRS or 3G or HSDPA protocols) go to the web site www.operamini.com, and download and install the Opera Mini web browser.

Sites designed for cell phone users will usually have a secondary cascading style-sheet, with reduced font-sizes etc to make browsing a happy experience.

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Search Engine Optimisation

Your site is not going to work for you if nobody can find you on the web. People use search engines, like Google, Yahoo, Links-for-Africa to find what they are looking for - as a sort of online yellow-pages directory.

You have done it yorself, I am sure. You search, you look at the first page of 11,000 that is presented, and perhaps the second, and then give up and start a new search by refining what you are searching for.

There are certain key ways of making sure that your site achieves a place in the first or second pages - we can advise you in the best ways to achieve that.

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What are your aims in building your web site?

where are you
        going?Where are you going?

What do you plan to achieve?

A web site must be seen as a powerful communication tool to present your corporate image to the world. Once you have the web site up and going, any planning meetings you attend should have an agenda item - How can we utilise the web site to help us achieve this?

Your web site should be an important marketing tool. So, when designing it, you shold keep the marketing mix clearly in mind:

If you plan to sell through the web site (allowing customers to place orders and pay via credit card) you need the site — or sections of it — to be set up as a secure site (usually shown by https:// at beginning of URL) so that nobody can access customer financial details through your site.

If you are setting up an internet web site to sell aggressively, then the site is best constructed using .PHP technology, with a underlying database (usually SQL), so that the site is kept constantly, dynamically up to date.

Google adwords - do they work?Google offers a feature called 'Ad-Words'.

If a person is looking for a supplier - of goods or services - Google provides an advertising service. If your ad attracts a potential customer, and they click and come to your site, there is a small fee payable to Google. This is a legitimate business expense. If this brings you customers you are happy. The conversion of a click to a customer is dependant on how well your web site communicates and attracts. There is no damage done if you try it and decide to cancel after a month or two.

You can use the services of FreeFind, to provide an internal search facility within your site. In addition to indexing your site, Freefind will give you weekly and monthly statistics of what people have searched on. This enables you to refine the meta-data to meet these needs.

Google-Analytics

is a free service from Google, which gives you information on how many visitors you have had to your site, and what pages they have looked at.

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What will it cost?

How long is a piece of string?

Costs depend on what is involved, obviously. The attached file gives an idea of pricing. Click here  to open the file.

The file is .pdf which needs Adobe Acrobat Reader to open it. If you do ot already have it, download it from the internet by following this link: Acrobat Reader Download

As described on the page associated with your aims — what you want to achieve from your website — PHP sites are discussed, which are suitable if you have a lot of stuff to sell via the web. However, if you have a small range of stuff, which does not change in price very often then a database price-list can produce .pdf reports of prices for people to open and read.

Other costs associated with the total package of putting a site on the world-wide web are:

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