(originally published in The
Jerusalem Post, September 2004)
What Goes into a Web Design?
Before you embark on a Web project for your company or organization,
it's a good idea to get an overall picture of the actions
that produce a successful site. This can give you a more
realistic understanding of time schedules, pricing, and expected
While some people initially think that building a site means
simply turning Word documents and pictures into Internet-ready
code, in reality this is a relatively minor part of the process.
Your content -- the text and images -- is basically just
raw data; it takes time, experience and skill to turn it
into the sort of usable information that can affect the bottom
line of your business or organization.
Previous columns outlined your pre-design obligations: you
need to define the target audience, locate sites that illustrate
characteristics you'd like your site to have, choose photographs,
and compose text. Today we'll discuss steps some designers
take to assemble all those pieces, and more, into a coherent
whole. (These can vary depending on designer and scope of
- Discovery. After you define the basic
audience and choose a basic approach, the designer more
extensively explores the sites of your competitors and
others appealing to the same audience, and may then encourage
additions or modifications to the initial plan for the
- Information Architecture. The designer
must make it easy to navigate through all the content.
An effective menu and an in-site search engine may do the
trick. However, a site with enormous amounts of dynamic
information -- for example, an online store -- requires
a database and Customer Management System, so it's easy
to retrieve data and add new material. (Note that once
a site is in this category, prices jump steeply.)
- Graphic Design. The designer composes
sample pages, often in a in a graphic program such as Photoshop,
illustrating the basic look-and-feel and how navigation
and search features will be presented. The design will
have been calculated to suit the nature of your company
and the preferences of your audience. (Logo creation can
also be a part of this phase.) You supply feedback and
the design may be modified accordingly.
- Coding. The designer transforms the
approved design into appropriate code and composes the
individual site pages. This step should simultaneously
address the issues of accessibility and search engine placement.
- Testing. Not everyone uses a PC running
the latest Microsoft browser. Visitors to websites use
many different machines and software -- even cellphones.
The designer must check that the site works well for a
wide range of your potential viewers; anything broken must
- Search Engine Registration. This takes
place once the site is up and running. (However, you may
want to defer this step until after you've arranged in-bound
links from other sites.)
One other factor underlies the above steps, and can make
or break the success of the site: Project Management.
An experienced designer will know how to coordinate all the
steps for optimal effectiveness. Ideally, a designer will
help you understand as much as you want to about the site's
underpinnings, but won't overdose you with jargon.
And, on his or her own time, the designer must simultaneously
keep abreast of new developments. Designers should obtain
enough perspective and experience to understand the needs
of a variety of sites. Recommendations for coding, accessibility,
search engine ranking, and e-marketing change at a very fast
pace; it is the designer's responsibility to keep informed,
which means ongoing study, networking, and experimentation.
While the destination -- a functional website -- is paramount,
the trip to it is also important. The designer's methods
and personal conduct should enable all stages of the project
to proceed pleasantly, on schedule and within budget.
Do you have any questions? Contact
me and I'll try to answer them in upcoming articles. Also,
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