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Website design is a term used to describe the construction of websites. You may also come across the terms "web development", "web design", or "webmaster services". Traditionally, the various terms were mildly exclusive where a website designer would create the graphical interface for a website, such as the color scheme, logo, and other artistic elements. A web developer would author programming logic, and markup code such as hypertext markup language (HTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS). A webmaster would configure the web server and support the hosting and maintenance of the website. In other words, the webmaster kept the website visible online to all users. Presently, a website designer, or web developer, is usually used to describe a person, or a company, which handles all the above.
Website design companies provide all the above, but they’ve now grown to support additional services such as search engine optimization, social media consultation, and pay-per-click advertising support. SEO is a specialization service which is used to improve the placement of your website on search engine result pages (SERPs). A search engine optimizer is also referred to as an SEO. While SEO existed in the early days of the internet, it was less complex, and did not require the heavy lifting that is now demanded by search engines.
Google is the most widely used search engine in the world. Over the past twenty years, Google has vastly improved their search algorithms to provide users with the best results possible. Recent enhancements include only indexing (or ranking) secure (https://) websites, providing a higher ranking to mobile friendly websites, and removing bad websites engaged in nefarious techniques to rank higher than their competitors. The latter enhancements necessitate the need to hire a professional website designer, and an SEO company, like Metovation, to properly design your website, and to handle other aspects of SEO.
Our websites are mobile friendly, fluid, flexible, and they function properly on every device.
Metovation protects your data, secures your visitors data, and rejects hackers.
Quality websites that are carefully planned, properly coded, and comply with search engine expectations, are ranked higher in search results.
Websites developed with Metovation capture the spirit of your brand through careful customization starting with the name of your website.
The process to design a website has grown in complexity over the span of three decades since the deployment of the very first website on August 6, 1991. For those who are curious, you may still view the very first website at the following link. In the early days of the world wide web, websites were very simple and were used to share, primarily, textual information quickly and easily. Images, videos, graphical elements, and other complex features were added in the late 90s and early 2000’s. From about 2000 to 2015, websites were designed for the desktop first. The majority had a fixed width, and they appeared their best on a laptop or desktop computer.
During these early decades, few website designers catered to mobile devices. This was generally because mobile phones were not widely used until the early 2000s. Even then, the devices were usually flip phones with limited real-estate on the screens. At one point there was a light version of HTML known as Wireless Markup Language (WML). WML was intended for mobile devices prior to the advent of smartphones. This is the language which would render a website for display on a flip phone or blackberry. Those who did cater to mobile devices, would usually code a separate version of the website with stripped down content and tools (usually by leveraging WML instead of HTML). The website would detect the user of a mobile device and display the mobile version of the site. In sum, websites during these first 25 years were usually heavy on graphics and appearance, and less focused on multi-device support.
Following the emergence of the iPhone and other smartphone technology, websites underwent a drastic change in design. This was driven primarily by a paradigm shift in the way consumers used the internet. For example, in 2014, Search Engine Watch reported the following:
…the landscape in which businesses operate changed forever when Internet usage on mobile devices exceeded PC usage.
It has taken considerable time for businesses and brands to embrace the potential of the Internet. Today, most recognize the Internet as a vital foundation for everything from operations to marketing and sales to logistics, CRM, and customer service.
Still, many businesses and brands struggle to truly leverage the digital landscape to meet the expectations of their customers. Many more will struggle with the migration of audiences (customers) to mobile.
The time has come to seriously consider integration of mobile-friendly versions of all mission-critical assets: applications, data, the website, communications, demos, sales materials, customer service, etc.
Google was quick to respond. In February of 2015, they released a sweeping update to their search algorithm which placed an emphasis on mobile-friendly search results and websites. No longer were graphics and flashy landing pages the focus of a website, but now the focus turned to usability and responsiveness across multiple devices and operating systems (e.g., IOS and Android). Modern websites are said to be responsive. Responsive website design involves carefully coding and designing a website so that it adapts seamlessly on every device (laptops, desktops, smartphones, and tablets).
A successful contemporary website, must be responsive. It should readily adapt to different browsers, devices, operating systems, screen resolutions, and user awareness. Regarding the latter, prior to responsive design, consumers were more accustomed to navigating a website with a full navigation either at the top, or side, of a website. Nowadays, consumers are familiar with three horizontal bars, or a "hamburger", to access a navigation menu . It’s important that a website adapt to these changes with both ease and precision.
There are a plethora of do it yourself (DIY) website builders available on the market today. The majority of these include a general template or design, and basic hosting services. In the past, you could purchase software such as Microsoft FontPage and/or Adobe Dreamweaver to build websites in a graphical interface. Similarly, nowadays, these tools are available through web-based platforms.
As with the software of old, the new web-based solutions suffer from the same limitations when it comes to producing good code and search engine optimization. The heavy lifting required to have a successful website is not available in most of these platforms. For example, search engine optimization is limited in a controlled template environment. Likewise, the type of hosting and content modifications are limited to the confines of the tools provided by the platform. In some cases, these DIY website builders may be a good fit for someone with general technical skills and a very small budget. However, most brands require the construction of a custom website with the assistance of a website design company. In sum, websites built with a website-builder-platform are akin to purchasing a five-year-old Kia, whereas a professional designed website is akin to purchasing a brand-new Cadillac.
Design and Layout: designing a website is the first step to deploy your brand to the internet. The design includes the selection of a color scheme, content layout, fonts, logos, photos, and other artistic elements. Some brands are interested in dropdown navigation menus on the desktop/laptop, and a full screen navigation on a mobile device. Other brands may desire an image slider/carousel, contact forms, photo galleries, and other interactive tools.
While most brands come to us with a logo and some photography, these can be assembled as part of the website build. If you don’t have anything, that’s fine as well. What’s important during the design and layout stage, is to pick something that properly represents your brand to the world.
Development: the development stage entails careful programming and markup-coding of the website layout, processes, and other functionality. This is by far the most complex portion of a website build. The way a website is coded has significant consequences for the way it is ranked in search engines, and how it is displayed in a web browser across various devices. Hence, this is another reason why a DIY tool is not recommended. The code produced by these platforms is usually bloated, messy, and difficult for search engines to understand when ranking your site. It can also slow down the website and drive users away. A well coded website should load in less than 3 seconds on a mobile device and/or desktop.
Testing: the coded website must be tested aggressively for speed, mobile friendliness, content issues, user friendliness, and multi-device support. This testing should be planned and executed carefully. A set of test scripts/cases should be written and executed. Testing will involve running the website through dozens of validation tools for World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) compliance, page speed compliance, schema validation, mobile friendliness validation, and other specialized validation depending on the website. For example, a website which processes payments requires more aggressive testing than a plain text website which is informational in nature.
Hosting and Domain Names: web hosting refers to the tenancy of your website on a computer which serves your website to the world. This computer is referred to as a web server. It’s just a computer, like any other, but it contains software which allows it to serve website content throughout the internet. A domain name is the name of your website (e.g., facebook.com) When a browser (Chrome, Edge, Firefox, or Safari) requests a website, it asks Domain Name servers to locate the appropriate server for the website. The web server then returns the website to the browser. Choosing good website hosting is critically important to ensure your website is secure and runs smoothly with little to no downtime. It’s best to find a website design company which will also continue to support and host your website. Hosting and domain name management are included in all Metovation's website solutions.
Deployment: it’s important that a website is not launched to the world until all the above steps have been carefully completed. Launching a website before it’s ready can have a negative impact on your search engine rankings and reputation. Proper planning, messaging, and other validation tasks should be defined before launching the website.
Mobile applications (or simply Apps) are closely tied to website design. Much of the coding and other effort performed under the hood, is the same for mobile apps. If you are in the market for a mobile application, it’s important that you develop this in conjunction with your website. Synchronizing your website with your mobile application from the start will save you thousands of dollars and provide a better user experience. While a mobile app is not required to succeed in the current market, a mobile app is highly effective for some industries, in particular food retail and professional service.
If you think it's expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.
- Red Adair
As you may have guessed, building an effective website, or mobile app, involves a great deal of time and effort. Several skills are required to do it effectively. While DIY solutions may work for the tech savvy businessperson with a low budget, hiring a website design company like Metovation will put your website leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors. When adding additional services such as search engine optimization (SEO), or mobile application development, you can significantly improve your dominance in your marketplace. It’s important to hire a professional as updating and correcting a website built with a poor design can often be more cumbersome and expensive to correct. Lastly, a good website design company doesn’t pursue shortcuts for your brand, they won’t use manipulative techniques to trick search engines, and they won’t make lofty promises which are unrealistic such as claiming they will obtain thousands of reviews for your business in a short timeframe or rank you on the top of Google in a week.
If you need help to design a website, Metovation can help. Get started here today.
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