Designing and creating websites for business
Step 1: why do you need a website?
Everyone who decides to create a website needs to first answer themselves a question, what do they need a website for? Having a goal will allow to determine the course of action, which is the particular type of website to invest in. We should specify the website’s target, or its audience, as well as their potential expectations. After all, it is our potential clients that we want to reach with our offer, which on the Internet is presented mainly on WWW pages. But let’s take a look at two different cases related to the purpose of a website.
Our company needs a virtual calling card online, but all that we really want is to have some information about us available on the Internet (information on the offer, on the company and contact info). The offer gets updated once in a while, which means the website’s content itself will not change very often, either.
In the second case we wish to work on the image, so that we can use the website to form lasting relationships with users, to make people start perceiving us as specialists in our field. The plans we have tied to the website are a little different than just informing people. We’re planning our website to have a “news” section, articles, and our offer to change often enough for us to need to be able to manage it on our own (so that we can quickly apply all changes at any moment). Personally managing the website or adding and removing content are things that can be done on websites equipped with a CMS, which is a Content Management System.
Step 2: functionality and graphic design
On top of deciding whether we are going to need a CMS (which will be discussed further in a moment), we also need to decide which functionalities we want to provide on the pages created. This will depend to a large degree on the website’s theme and industry. Even very simple corporate websites often come with such modules as a contact form or a search engine, so we shouldn’t just assume right from the start that we are never going to need them.
It’s a good idea to check out the competitors’ websites (as well as all of those on which we have found functionalities we particularly liked), so that we can explain to the developer how we want our website to work before they start working on it.
On top of that, we also have a significant impact on how the website will look. It needs to fit the industry, which means adequately representing our company. Plenty of people will actually first come across it on the Internet. The graphic design should be created in line with the ordering party’s expectations, their ideas, as well as in line with the latest Internet trends.
The design stage utilizes information on the company as well as materials provided by the ordering party (website content). The graphic designers send the initial drafts of the design to the ordering party, who specifies revisions or accepts the design. It is only after the final approval when the company starts working on the subsequent stages.
Step 3: CMS, or Content Management System
Before making any decisions on whether we want to have a CMS, it’s a good idea to learn a little bit more about what kind of application it is in the first place. CMS is a system that makes it possible to manage a website and the content displayed on it without the need to have any knowledge on the HTML code. Using a CMS is a little like working with programs operating on “window-based” systems, such as work processors that most of us use in everyday life.
Step 4: domain, or the website’s address online
While working on the website (or even before it begins), the ordering party will have to pick a domain for their company, unless they already have a registered address. All existing websites on the Web have their unique address. The choice of address is up to the website’s owner. More on how to choose online addresses for a website can be read in a moment, but first we will explain what a domain is in the first place.
A domain is an online address at which the website is located. One domain directs to one website, whereas the same website can be accessed through different online addresses.
Step 5: hosting, or the website’s place on a server
Every website consists of different types of files, documents, pictures, data (i.e. mail data) etc. All those elements have to be stored somewhere (on a hard drive) and accessible to the users. On top of that, it has to be a place that will be available 24/7. Such services are provided by hosting companies. The hosting is offered to the website’s owner by the server on the hard drive of which the website is stored. Redirecting to a particular server, on the other hand, is handled by the domain (or web address).
Why cannot all the elements of a website be stored on the hard drive of a regular computer connected to the Internet? Professional hosting centers are equipped with special hardware intended for that purpose, which is adapted to continuous operation. It is incomparably more efficient than the best “household” drives. On top of that, the room where the servers are stored itself has to be air-conditioned or ventilated all the time, as well as equipped with backup power source that, in case of things like power outage, will power the hardware for the duration of the malfunction.
The provider ensures that the hard drives operate properly and that the server’s Internet connection is fast and technically reliable. A hosting center has to provide its clients with protection of accounts, customer data, as in protection from different types of online threats.
Step 6: launching a website
Once the developer is done creating the website and we already have a domain and an agreement signed with a hosting company, the website is live on the Internet. Sometimes, with more complicated designs, a test site is launched (on test servers) to check its functioning. Then, after the final test, the website is launched at its actual web address.