Monday, 15 December 2008

Building a Successful Website

Now that you know how to design a website, here you will learn a few aspects about building one.

In order for a website to be successful it needs to be found, not only the site itself but its content too. You might be thinking that if you find a website, the content is just there, right? Not necessarily. For the normal user, this might be the case, but there are circumstances where it’s not as straightforward.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

A web page has basically two elements: design and content.

There are different ways to build a page, but they all use the same language, HTML. HTML is the web based language and all websites end up with it. It is a very simple language and not difficult to learn, however to use it appropriately takes time and experience, so if you don’t have either, leave it for the professionals.
The design and content of your page come together in this language, and if the right approach is not used, you might end up with a page that is cluttered with unnecessary code. That’s where Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) come.

CSS is file that contains the rules for formatting your content. Any part of a page can be controlled by a CSS sheet in a very powerful way without cluttering your page with unnecessary code and leaving your content clean and still looking good.

There are several advantages of adopting CSS:

  • Easier to maintain – one sheet can control a whole web site, if you decide to change the font colour in all pages, for example, with a css file, you only need to change one file
  • Flexibility – css is a very powerful tool that can create some stunning effect, that is light and compatible on most browsers
  • Accessibility/Search Engine Friendly – it separates the layout from the content, by far the most important aspect

Accessibility

Nowadays, as technology advances, the types of users accessing the Internet are becoming wider. Visually impaired individuals are using more and more the Net to make purchases and find information on services they require, so your site must be accessible to them.

The biggest issue here is that the software/browsers used by these individuals (and normal users) might vary a lot, and without standards in place, they might follow different rules when reading the code on your website, for this reason the W3C has been created. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the organ that sets the rules on how websites should be built. By following their rules, your site should have a structure that is easily read not only by regular browser but by those used by disabled people. 

Search Engine Friendly

By being accessible, a website also helps search engines. Robots now have millions of websites to scan on a regular basis. 10 years ago, when there were not even half of this amount, it was easier for them to scan them all, now, they are becoming more strict on what they go through or not and if your site does not make their scan easy, they are very likely not to return.

For you as the owner of a website, you want it to pass your company’s or personal identity, the look and feel you love, and that is necessary, but most of the users looking at your site, are more interested in what you can offer than what it looks like. Several reports on web usage have shown that the most popular sites are actually very simple in their design, but their content is well written, clear and easy to follow.

All search engines want is to find the right content for their users, to give them the right information, they depend on that for their survival. Clean content makes easier for search engines to find the information they want. You give them that, and they will find you.

If you have any questions about our website development please contact Art Division.

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