The approach that I use is Standards-Based Open-Source Website Design.
This may not mean much to you if you are not a website designer yourself, so the following sections describe some of the features that can be built into your website using this approach. Some people fear that meeting standards will make their website visually dull and therefore will lose people’s interest. This is not true and I hope that this website demonstrates this, even though it only uses a small selection of these features.
A Consistent Look
For any website, it is important to project a consistent look and feel to each page. I am aware of this and make it a priority.
I can design a logo for you, or have an existing logo scanned and prepared for website use.
Simple, Structured Pages
I believe that a website should be simple and clear with no clutter. People give up within a few seconds if they can’t find what they want on a page. There are some well-understood psychological rules for presenting information which I use in my website design to make the content obvious.
It is important to be able to find your way around a website, to have clearly-defined navigation tools that allow information to be found. Menus, site-maps and quick-links all help in making websites navigable. Again, there are simple psychological rules that I use to make navigation obvious.
A website can be made to adapt to changing content. This is known as Dynamic Web Pages. For example, a website that shows off photographs can be designed so that it automatically displays new photographs without you having to call in a website designer to add them. I have designed websites that automatically incorporate new content in this way.
I can use dynamic pages to adapt to changes in the words you want to put on the page. Using the same technology, I can allow you to write simple plain-text documents and then automatically format them in the website’s consistent style to produce properly formatted and presented web pages. This means you can design new web pages yourself without needing any website design skills – all you need to be able to do is write the plain text.
For sites with dynamic content and changeable content, I can design an interface that simplifies the task of managing the site’s content. The interface will consist of simple forms that you can fill in with changes and check those changes in a way that guarantees that the website is still complete and functioning.
Hiding Information from Spammers
Spammers use automated programs to scan websites for email addresses to spam. So, what happens if you want users of your website to be able to email you? I use information-hiding techniques to enable users to email you while minimising the chance of spammers getting hold of your address.
The same techniques can be used to hide information like phone numbers and addresses.
I can design forms for users to request things from you: for example, forms for ordering goods, for requesting information, for sending you an email. I can make forms that can be filled in online, can be printed and filled in by hand, or both.
I can integrate your website with a database backend in any of the above scenarios. Most of my website designs work like this – dynamic content is kept in a database, can be added and edited as described in Site Editing above and displayed to the user with the efficiency of the database.
Online ordering systems are based on the idea of a shopping basket. Users add items to their shopping basket and then proceed to a payment system. This can either be an online payment system or it can be simply an automatically-generated order form which can be printed and then posted. I can design systems that do both.
Google Analytics is a system for analysing the ways customers use your website, provided of course by Google. Many of the highest-use websites use Google Analytics to monitor their sites. To use it requires the analytics code to be integrated into the website design, and the analytics website at Google to be configured to suit your needs, something I’ve done already with several of my website designs. Using Google Analytics I can generate and provide reports on customer usage and the success or otherwise of design changes as measured by customer response, or set up the system so that you can use it yourself.