Why You Should Not Engage A Web Developer

When I first started my web designing business five years back, I didn’t have any experience, customers, money or any clue about building websites. For my first attempt at a dynamic website I bought a book on ASP programming and with the help of the book I built my very own simple content management system. It was really difficult. It took me almost 2 months and cost about $10,000.

Last week we launched a dynamic CMS based website for a client and it took us one day and cost $299.

Back in 2006, it was rather difficult to build a website and you pretty much had to be a web developer to do it. Open source programs hadn’t yet taken off. Most of the websites were custom programmed by the web developers. If at all they used a CMS, it would be the ones built by themselves. Either way, you had to be a programming geek if you wanted to build your own website.

Thus many businesses didn’t have dynamic websites at all.

Thankfully the times have changed…

These days it is not really necessary to be a programmer to build a website. After my initial foray into ASP, I tried to find an open source system that I could use; that is when I discovered great systems like Joomla! and WordPress that could be used for back end client websites. I never looked back once I started using these open source systems.

I do have programmers on my staff, however there is no programming required for an average small business website. At least for people like me who are using open source systems like Joomla! and WordPress it isn’t required. All the programming work is already be done for you.

This is the reason why you don’t have to be paying a web developer to build your website. If you are paying for developing small business websites:

1) They either haven’t been using the free systems available and are still stuck in the dark ages coding the site by hand or
2) They are using their own CMS which makes it harder for you to move on if you want to.

Standing Out

While it is rather simple to build a website these days, it is not easy to build a good one. In fact you can argue that as it is really easy to build one, the task of building websites in lots of cases is put back in the hands of the business owner.

Hence there are a lot of self-built websites of average quality in the sea of small business websites. When you combine this with the number of legacy websites online from back in the day, it paints are really grim picture of the quality of sites online. Here lies the opportunity.

The opportunity

In the good old days, you just needed to have an online presence, but now the opportunity is in having a websites that stands out from the numerous average websites with a website that works properly.

So who should you engage?

Now the question is if you don’t want to engage a web developer, who should be responsible for building your website. Building a website requires a lot of different skills, some that can be provided by yourself and some by your provider. Below is a list of ingredients that are required for building a great website.

YOU

You are the most important ingredient for building your own website because:

1. One can design a great website only around a goal and you are the only one who would be able to express the strategies for your business.
2. Great websites will give the visitors exactly what they are looking for. You are the only one who will be able to know what your customer wants and how to pull their strings.
3. You will have to exhibit something unique. You will be the person who knows what is unique about your business.
4. You will have to work out a plan with your provider to generate traffic and lots of traffic will come through your own efforts.

Your Provider

1. You have to make sure that your provider is a good designer because great websites will look good.
2. Your provider needs to be flexible and open because you will need CMS that is easy for you to maintain.
3. Your provider needs to know about web promotion and help you to generate traffic to your website.

Using the services of a web developer to build website is close to over. If you wish to take the present opportunity you will need more.

Why Use W3C For Web Development Standards?

Web Developers have always wondered why they should validate their websites to W3C. Some Web Developers don’t care to validate in W3C and others live by if. Personally you should validate your website in W3C. Having a good coding style and using W3C will make your site more accessible to disability individuals. And will keep you with the technological advancement for development.

What Does W3C Stand For?

The World Wide Web Consortium or W3C, have been put together a precise way to code a site to make it accessible to disability individuals. There a number of individuals that are diagnosed with a disability that uses the internet. Disability individuals might have small desktop resolutions (800 x 600), keyboard navigation or a screen reader. These tools will to help their usability with the content and navigation on the site.

W3C Standards is Easy

With W3C Standards coding your website in W3C isn’t hard, nor isn’t any more work than not coding in W3C. There are some areas you need to consider.

Use Alt Tags and Closing Tags for all Images

Such as your img tags needs to have an “alt” tag with them. An alt tag is a small description about the image. This alt tag is used by the web browser to describe the image in text form or a description when an image isn’t displayed. When a web browser cannot find an image it will display the alt tag in its place. Also close the image tag with a />

Why do I need alt tags when I know my images are not broken? This is where the accessibility issue comes into play. Let’s make a scenario: An individual that is blind is surfing the Internet. He needs to use a screen reader to help him find links and read content. When he comes across an image without alt tags, the screen reader has no description to read. Now he doesn’t know what he clicking on. If there was a small description alt tag included in the image he would know exactly what it is.

Close All HTML Attribute and Element Brackets

Closing all attributes and tags is another common mistake for W3C. If you have a p and a b html tag. You need to close the b tag before the p tag.

Double Checks the Small Stuff

Another to watch for is putting your DOCTYPE, Content-Type and Title tag. But as a web developer you are already doing this, so you don’t need a reminder. Just always run your site through the W3C Validator Service to see if you have any errors.

W3C Validator Service

How to Choose a Web Developer to Create Your Online Template Site

Introduction
There are many web sites that offer you an inexpensive way to create a website with their template system. The templates exist on their servers, and the resulting website is hosted within their system. This is different from getting a template that you move into your computer to create your website. Some common places that you can go for these sites are Yahoo, Network Solutions, Volution and, possibly, even your webhost.

Online template systems are found online, and, typically offer you an “easy” and inexpensive way to build your website. Notice the quotations about easy. The actual process of building and maintaining the online template site might not feel like it’s easy and inexpensive. The reality is that, in most cases, it really is easier to use an online template system than it is to start a new website from scratch. Also, you can get a site up much more quickly because the internal structure and background images of the site are already done.

One downside is that because the site is held completely within a different system, you can’t just take a copy of it, if you decide to move your site. The only parts of the site that are yours are your own images and text. Another downside is that the site is only changeable within the areas of the pages that they have set the programming to allow the text or image changes. Some online template systems allow more changes than others. Finally, while these sites offer many professional quality graphics for your use, those same graphics are available to their other clients.

How Online Templates Work
Most everything that you add to your online template website is through a normal online form. You enter your titles, prices, image descriptions, paragraphs, etc through a form. You upload your product images through a Browse button. In other words, you don’t have to do (or know) any coding. You fill out the forms and the pages are created by the programming.

However, using these systems is not as “bingo presto” as the advertisement say it is. There is no getting around the fact that even small websites are complicated. They are a combination of code and design and images and photography and text and, marketing.. It is not realistic to expect that a unique website can be built with a couple of clicks. Online web templates have to give you a place to add elements that will show up on every page, such as your banner and contact information. They also have to deal with your content pages. If they decide ahead of time what pages you get, you might want those changed. What if you want some of the content on the pages to be formatted your way, instead of their way? It is possible that they will give you a place to add your HTML code, but then you have to know the code. The templates have to allow you to add images, but do those images go where you want them. And, if you supply the images, who will create them?

Some online templates that look great, only look great in certain browsers and at certain screen resolutions. I have looked at the coding, for some online templates, and found many coding errors, which some browsers can deal with and others not. One situation was when an acquaintance sent out the web address of a relative’s new website. I opened it in one browser, and the middle of the page had sunk below the first screen on most pages. When I checked the code, I found many CSS errors – but you have to know the code to understand what happened.

If you want an online shopping cart, you will also have to have photos of all your products, product descriptions, prices, shipping information, tax information, your merchant account information for credit card processing, etc. If you have hundreds of products, just the task of preparing the information for your shopping cart can be quite lengthy.

Finding the Right Developer for your Template Site
Some people who sign up for a template site, do just fine figuring out the system on their own. Others are completely lost. I have been asked to help with a Yahoo template site and a Volusion template site. Even with years of web development experience, I did not find either system intuitive to use. In fact, I was surprised at how badly they labeled the links to go through the systems and how badly they explained the development steps. I did find that Volusion had excellent technical support by phone, but it would have been better if they had just created a good interface for regular people instead of for their own techs.

So, the developer for your online template site should have some experience with online templates (as opposed to just building sites from scratch.) Before you sign up for an online template system, ask the developer which template systems work best. If they already have successful experiences with a certain product, it will save a lot of time ($$$) to use that system. The developer will also be able to tell you the shortcomings of different systems – but not all systems as they come and go.

Your developer should also have great communication skills to show you how to weed through the backend mess. In most cases, you don’t want to depend on your developer for every little website change in the future. That’s why you are using the templates in the first place! But, ask your developer if he or she will be available to give you a hand, if something unexpected comes up.

Your developer should also understand how websites work. Such a developer will know what ought to be available in the forms and will have a better idea what to hunt for. The developer will also know what to ask technical support, who may or may not communicate well. For example, by calling technical support, I found out that Volusion won’t allow you to have more than one domain name unless you register those domain names through them. For that client, I had the second domain name pointed through their registrar, by-passing the online template system. But, I had to have the background to know that it should be available and that there had to be another way around the block.

Finally, it is not unusual for an online template system to go down (broke.) That means that your website will disappear. And, as I mentioned before, you can’t pick it up and move it. So, have a backup plan for a new website.