Some consider it the First step and they are
probably right. All the issues
described in previous sections are heavily dependent on this Step.
1. Your Target Audience
You may know
this already, you plan about what your target audience is, it can be teens,
businessman, people within certain age groups or certain business group like
chemical manufacturers. This is one thing that will
impact right how the content is created, managed and presented. So, ponder this
thought carefully, identify the possible groups and if need arises either chose
between groups or create multiple channels or even multiple web sites for a
single product or message. Admit it, you can't have the same offering for a
15-25 age group and 45-55 age group.
Obviously, you should know what do you want to say. It is a good idea to
first create the headlines and divide your web site into sections. Like for a
small business web site you would like to show:
Title - It can be your business
or brand name or slogan or even your domain name
Image of Company's logo and
pictures of Office, Factory, Shop or Home, family, yourself
Products Lists and Details.
While most do not provide prices, remember they teach in
management schools that free publishing of prices help
Images of Product's (and)
Manufacturing Facilities, sections of home like kitchen, garden
Suggestions to select right
models, if many exist or enquiry guidelines if you
provide custom made products with as much technical
details as possible.
Online Enquiry and Feedback
Means and ways to contact you
Past Performances. If you can
provide appreciation certificates from your customers,
even better, otherwise, it is advised to atleast provide
list of customers.
to place online orders and accept online payments - through credit cards,
debit cards, online cheques, online banking etc. Information to place
orders offline, if the customer so wishes.
Directors Profile - very important, this creates confidence. The major
drawback of internet media is that it is too abstract, it is difficult to
differentiate between wolves and sheep. This way you are able to induce
some personal touch.
- Links to relevant pages like
Associations for technical standards, your friend's web sites, your
city, country portal. Some even have the
guts to add Search Engines like AltaVista
to their sites to allow their
visitors to search for products and some even provide
links to their customers and some even to their
competitors. But, don't overdo it.
Counters to give you the idea
about the number and type of hits to your pages.
3. Overview of Web site
"The way you look, is the way you are"
Although not necessary, but, this is how it will work on the internet.
So, a good design encompasses:
The way your web site looks
The way the navigation is made
The way you use graphics and other elements to brighten up your web site
The ease with which your web site can be maintained, updated and evaluated
An important point is
`Designing of your web site is not the same thing as designing pamphlet or
brochure for your company'
The web is an interactive medium and you will benefit immensely if you can
harness this potential. You can have a feedback from your users anonymously
about what they think about your web site or your business offering, immediately
a frank assessment. Although, this remains a difficult task nowadays. Another point is,
it requires lots of programming and graphics to make your web site that jazzy
like your printed literature, and that, apart from costing money, makes your web
site slooow and difficult to maintain. Is it a coincidence that the top most web
sites on the internet like Yahoo.com or Google.com
are very - very simple in design - with very little graphics, white background,
black text, standard blue underlined links and standard Times new Roman or Arial
or Verdana Font
? Hmm, even we are not that drab though.
i. Designing your Home Page or Welcome screen
"First Impression is the Last impression"
So, the main page or the index page (another
name for Home Page) should:
Initiate the user's interest
Indicate the theme and content of the web site
Present the main menu of the web site, with a little indication or
description of what each subject it holds for them
ii. Graphics and Multimedia
They add the pep to your web site. They make it attractive and .... well
slow. So, this is always a web designers dilemma. General guidelines or things
to be careful about are:
They can give cluttered appearance to your web site
They can create problems for users with special needs like those using
As already mentioned, they slow the loading for your web pages
So, as with any publication (yes, you may compare your web site with
publication) you use Graphics on your web site where ever they are needed, where
they are appropriate. You do not overdo it, and you can use a little of them to
make your web site attractive. They can range from animated images, photographs
to simple line drawings. Recent Technological advancements in software, internet
and multimedia allow streaming of other media elements like movies and sounds to
the web screen. A sound can start playing the moment a screen starts loading, or
you can show a movie, like web cast a particular process in your factory, or
your marriage ceremony. They
do require special pug-ins with the users and that can be a bad experience for
some visitors to your web site. A good option is to make it optional for the
user to enjoy them. Times are changing and changing fast. With the advent of
Broadband internet ISP connections, over time, multimedia of all sorts will
become much more common on the web as access becomes faster and software
Copyright law in most countries protects the content on the internet also.
Although, not very common, and internet, by its very nature, makes it very easy
for others to take text, graphics from your web site, Copyright still provides some degree of legal protection.
iii. Encourage Feedback
The feedback from your users can be a very effective tool in making them feel
at home with you via your web site. It is generally advised that you:
Encourage users to send you emails as a form of feedback detailing their
responses to your web site
provide users with forms they can fill and submit online. The results can
be collected in a database and analysed quite fruitfully.
When you do happen to meet someone who has actually visited your web site,
ask them how they feel about it, whether they found it useful or their is
some criticism or suggestion. By the way, you can give your feedback
regarding our web site and especially this article to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
to encourage visitors to your web site to become physical visitors to your
organisation is to provide `Online Specials'. For example, A form printed
out from your web site, could promote discounts on entry fee or purchases.
Finally, Actual Designing
Comes the actual designing in HTML files. HTML means Hyper Text Markup
Language, and it is just that. An HTML file is like a text file, with
special commands or tags to display text, embed images and other
multimedia files and link to other files. Some of the commands are:
: <p><a href="http://www.4eit.com">4eIT.com</a></p>
<p><img border="0" src="../images/fort.jpg"
be afraid of the above commands. These are just examples to show you
what goes on behind the stage. Actually, it is much easier to create
HTML pages, as easy as writing a word star letter. You can create your
page in Microsoft Word and save it in HTML format, it is one of the
options when you save in using "Save As" in File menu of
Word. Another great way is to use Microsoft Front Page, HTML editor
that comes free with you internet browser Microsoft
Internet Explorer. Another such HTML editor also comes and free with
Netscape Navigator. So, all you need to do is write your messages,
Format them in presentable format with Bold, Italics, colours and
sizes etc, embed a few links and images and voila, you can have some
sort of web site all by your self ! I can already hear web programmers
swearing to kill me.
this is good option for maybe a personal family web site only. A good
professional web site is best left to Professionals. (You are right:
This statement has not been made to save my life and livelihood). To
make an impact with a visitor and enough impact to actually make them
part from their hard earned money in you favour, needs some
professional expertise, which only we (web site designers) can
provide. Besides, web pages these days are complex things with search
engine optimisation and submission, without which your web site is
like a rock show in the middle of Sahara desert.