Richard Albion Web Design and Development


Web Design

The term 'Web Design' can mean different things to different people, but there's a lot more to designing a website than the layout and graphics. The process of designing a site starts with understanding what the objectives of that site are and who it's aimed at. Corporate, commercial, not-for-profit, blogging or simple portfolio sites will each have different aims and emphases that need to be clarified as early as possible in the project timeline. The aesthetics are of course a key element in most websites but there are many questions to be answered beforehand: What kind of content will the site display? Will that content be updated frequently? What kind of interactivity will be involved? Who are the target markets? Will they be using desktops, tablets, mobiles, or all three? Is natural search engine ranking a priority? How will the site be marketed and how will this reflect on the site requirements? Creating a successful website is about making the right decisions based on answers to these questions.

Web Development

The nuts and bolts of your website can take many forms and are dictated by key questions in the design phase regarding content, database requirements, user interface, security and so on. Simpler, 'static' sites with infrequent changes and minimal interactivity, such as portfolios or informational sites, often have content that is written directly into page files. This 'front-end' development typically comprises HTML, CSS and Javascript. 'Dynamic' sites display content that is liable to change frequently and can involve greater interactivity, such as blogs, forums, news and so on. Content changes could be made through a content management system (CMS), the user interaction on your site, an automated system retrieving third-party data, or any combination of these. In most cases a database system, such as MySQL server, is required to store the information. 'Back-end' or 'server-side' application development is required to both store and extract that information on demand.

Website Management

Once a website is up and running that's very rarely the end of the story. Many sites require monthly, weekly or even daily maintenance of one kind or another. Content, layout and graphics will sooner or later all be subject to revision or updates. How these updates are made will depend on the type of site. Pages of smaller websites may well be edited directly using local software. Larger, more sophisticated sites probably use a content management system and database. Changes could be imposed due to general shifts in business direction or branding, or purely to keep information up to date. There is also a more proactive approach to maintaining a website, whereby all aspects of the site are regularly reviewed, critiqued and modified, with the aim of raising advertising ROI (Return On Investment), increasing average visit duration or reducing page bounce rates. The statistical data showing the activity and performance of the site can be monitored through, for example, Google Analytics.

e-Book Creation

In line with the general proliferation of handheld devices in recent years, reading books in electronic formats has become increasingly more commonplace and is an ever-growing market. From dedicated e-readers, such as the Amazon Kindle or the Barns & Noble Nook, to reading apps for both tablet and mobile devices, e-reading is here to stay. But what is an e-book? Various proprietary formats exist but perhaps the most common and widely accepted open format is .epub, which replaced the Open e-Book standard several years ago. It is essentially a mixture of HTML, CSS and XML-based files all packaged up in a specific way. Authors who have works stored in common file formats such as MS Word or PDF will find that converting their titles into an e-book format is not a straight forward task. Many software applications claim to handle conversion but the results are often well below acceptable. Manual conversion at some level is normally required.

Search Engine Marketing

Find out more about Search Engine Optimization and Pay-Per-Click AdWords Campaign Management.