Over the last few months I have tried to
outline the basics of web development.
I have broken down the processes and
underlying complexities that have to take place if
a web site is to be successful.
Many people do not understand how complex the field of website development is or how many hours go into even the most simple of sites.
Some have the impression that making a website is just putting pictures and text on a page, like making a letter in MS Word. However, this is not the case.
There is much more to building a website than one sees on the surface.
A very simple analogy would be this: A handyman, who has fitted your front door, replaced your gutter guards, and unblocked a sink for you in the past now offers to build your new custom home for much cheaper than Bob's Custom Home Builders, Inc. quoted you recently.
Would you assume that since he is pretty good with a hammer and wrench that he could build your custom home much cheaper and better than a professional home builder? Would you be getting a quality job by a professional, or would you be settling for a much less quality job from someone who likes to tinker with tools.
Obviously, the answer would be no. You don't need to know in-depth building techniques to know that his skills, however easy he made that door hanging look, would simply not be enough to build an entire house. There is just too much involved.
I think the words, 'Jack of all trades, master of none,'
would spring to mind. Would this one person be
able to master the skills in all of the different
areas involved in building a house?
Exactly the same is true in the web development business. Just as with building a house, there are several different elements involved in custom, quality web design. Each area requires someone with specialized skills.
Here's a recap of just the three most basic elements, that even the simplest of sites must possess if it is to have any chance of success:
1. Graphic Design or visual appeal. A very important aspect, especially given the fact that this gives the end user his first impression of your business. However, this is totally immaterial if the viewer can't see all the wonderful elements the designer has created.
2. User Friendliness. Does your site take into consideration the multitude of browsers, operating systems and screen sizes the viewers will use?
Is the navigation simple for people to figure out, or ingeniously hidden in some obscure graphic (such as click the 3rd rivet down in the metal globe to go to 'About Us')?
Does it consider people on slower connections?
If any answer is no, you will be losing potential clients every day, but that's only if they can find you first.
Which brings us to -
3. Search engine placement. Was your site designed with search-engine friendly elements put in the right places so the searches can find them?
Does your site use Flash navigation, or is it totally Flash based?
If so, it may look great, but searches are blind to Flash, and will not be able to see your site in order to add it to the list.
Those are just the three main areas that even
the simplest of sites has to cover to have any
chance against millions of competitors. Each of
these areas is a discipline unto itself.
Back to house building. You probably wouldn't feel very safe if a plumber wired the electricity. How sturdy would your concrete slab be if it was mixed and poured by a carpenter?
Similarly, someone may have great graphic ability, but can they also think like a programmer? Can they work within bandwidth and screen limitations? Are they also a search engine specialist?
I myself have over 20 years of programming experience, but speaking to our head development programmer, Glenn, makes my head spin. He knows so much more than I could ever learn, and comes up with problem solutions that make my jaw drop.
The same goes for graphic designers, who can create things that make me stare in amazement. However, they don't know, or even want to know, any more than they need to to interface with the programmers.
When contracting to build your website, you have to be certain that you are comparing apples to apples. Cheaper is not always better, and just as with the cheaper house, you will get what you pay for.
Next Month - Template sites vs. Content Management Systems.
Terry Young is the founder and CEO of Internet Marketing and Design,
the award winning web and multimedia design agency in Chesapeake.
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