Here at Brunello, as a full service digital agency, we develop website solutions based on the unique message and goal of each of our clients. This is crucial in the beginning stages of development. From very early on a clear vision, goal, and message needs to be determined by the the client and agency team. The message and goal of the site will work cohesively under the areas of content, usability and user features. In this post we'll discuss these areas, how they relate to the basics of web development, and how this specialty differs from web design.
Content is all information and text on the site that can include anything from product and service information to blog articles. Your branding can be improved through your content. Make sure visitors to your site believe your services or product are their ONLY option. Define your strengths and back them up with well written content. Also, it is important to note that your content layer adheres to standards in HTML or XHTML.
We've written a post on how you can build an engaged audience through content marketing. If you have a strong content marketing strategy in place in the early stages of development, you'll spend less time later on figuring out how to get visitors to your site.
Ask these questions about your site's usability during development:
- Is the navigation user friendly? A general rule of thumb is that any page on your site should be reachable within 2 clicks from your homepage. For a larger site this may not be possible. So, in that case, a offering a site map or site-wide search bar would be beneficial.
- Does the site load quickly? You can almost guarantee that visitors will be impatient and leave your site if your pages don't load quickly. Also, slow loading times will reduce the number of pages they'll visit.
- Is the site accessible? If a person can't access or use your website, it isn't serving its purpose. Easy ways to improve the accessibility of your site is to include alt tags for all images, use valid HTML, and linking text.
- Does the site have a custom 404/error page? If a visitor sees an error page for any reason, they may very likely never return. It is extremely beneficial to have a custom 404 page created that will link back to your site. It will give the visitor easy access back to your site while displaying a clearer message. This is just one example of how to make your website better before it is even launched.
What features of the site are useful to your visitors and which features would make them visit your site over your competitors.
Some useful features to include are:
- Business information
- Contact information
- Clear navigation
- Security info
- Social media integration
- A Mobilized version of the site
User features are extremely important factors in the success of your website. If you have strong user features you can almost guarantee that visitors will stay on your site for longer periods of time. Check out these 9 user experience pitfalls to know what features should be avoided!
As a 101 post, it is beneficial to know the skills/rolls set of website developers. Some will have more basic skills, while other developers will have more advanced skills.
Basic web development skills can include: some graphic design skills, information architecture, and copywriting.
Advanced skills will include in addition to the above: GUI, Flash, CMS, CSS, web applications development, site security testing, code optimization, and project management.
These skills are flexed in the development of a website in creating the content, user features, and usability.
Web design is a broad term used to describe the over all production and maintenance of websites. Web design is often used to describe front end web design (client site) whereas web development deals with the back end (server side). Elements of web design include: graphic design, interface design, typography, search engine optimization, and user experience design.
Hopefully this introduction provided you with an understanding of what web development is, how it differs from web design, and left you with the information you need to choose a web development company to work on your company's site.
And don't forget; once a website is launched, the work doesn't stop there. Be sure you know what to do after your website launches!