Developing the Perfect Web Site

Five years ago it was nice but not mandatory for owners of small to mid-size businesses to have a web site in order successfully market their company. Unless e-commerce was a potential source of revenue, you could choose if and when to join the Internet set. That is no longer true.

Today businesses of all sizes, including independent consultants, find it nearly impossible to remain competitive without a presence on the web. Potential clients ask for your web site address because it gives them a non-invasive way to learn more about you and your business. A well-designed and developed web site offers more than just products and services, it can be a great starting point to building your brand and developing a relationship with potential clients by giving insight into the organization, its core values and its personality. It’s not an issue of when to start on your web site, you already know that you need one now. The problem is how to get started.

Here are four steps that will help you evaluate what you need. Consider each before you begin interviewing web designers; professional marketing and design groups should ask you these same issues and offer to help you work through the process. If they don’t, if they go first to a package price, buyer beware. Your web site may not reflect your company brand and might not give your customers what they need from your site.

Step 1: Know how a web site will support your marketing plan
Put into writing your thoughts on company philosophy, all marketing efforts being used and other aspects of your company’s brand. Evaluate the image you currently are projecting and how it compares to your competitors. If you have a written marketing plan, share that with your designer. Know who the main user of your site will be and understand their web viewing needs.

Web sites should offer business solutions, so knowing where you are and where you want to go are critical to developing a successful site that supports your brand. Understanding your customers or the end user of your site and their expectations will determine key factors like color, style and font, images used, technology supported. Building a complex site for a lo-tech end user is a misuse of assets. Conversely you won’t be able to compete against hi-end sites if yours fails to perform at a similar level. Talk all of this through with your web and marketing teams.

Step 2: Determine your site’s value
Ranges are fine, but establish a value for the site. Notice I said value and not price—how important to your business will this web site become? Based on the research you did in Step 1, you can make a sound decision on the value your site will give to your customers and how it may directly affect sales results. This allows you to determine an appropriate investment levels so you can better evaluate the estimates you will be given for web development.

Step 3: Envision your web site at its best
Consider what your ultimate dream machine web site would look like and how it would operate. Evaluate all kinds of sites not just those of competitors; look for images, ease of use, content. Bring likes and dislikes to your design team. Decide if your site will be used to drive retail sales now or in the future and the designers can help determine how that might be accomplished.

By discussing where you want to be, a web designer can build your first site with long-range goals in mind. A costly mistake many people make is buying the least expensive package, using a templated and sometimes restricted design or getting the bare minimum site available. Usually those sites cannot be easily adapted and in order to grow the site you have to start fresh.

Step 4: Build each web page on paper first
I like to work with clients to think through, and put on paper, how every web page will work—content, function, navigation, images, links, databases. This allows us to estimate the cost of the site and it helps clients choose between must-haves, good-to-haves and great but not necessary pages and accessories. This is where you can really start to see the site developing.

Now it’s time to design
Using all the information gathered, your web design team will begin to create visual elements, write copy and formulate the form and function of your site. The look of your site, all the visual elements that will make it distinctly yours, begin now. Your research and time spent meeting with the design team will help give you the web site that effectively communicates with your customers, offers business solutions and supports your brand. The perfect web site!

Add Value to Your Web Projects With PHP Development

The internet continues to grow at a furious rate. More users are being added there on a daily basis and more information spread worldwide. More websites are reaching there which makes it a vast source of information from any domain of choice. Similarly, more websites today are turning dynamic than they ever did, and static ones now seem vastly outdated. In a way, websites are changing in nature and this is why PHP has become an essential piece of technology today. Being a server-side open source scripting language, it’s adding a great value to web development of varied scale.

Such is the popularity and effectiveness of PHP that more than 8 out of 10 websites on the internet use it as their server-side scripting language. This kind of domination is perhaps unique in the tech world and that’s why, it makes a lot of sense finding all those reasons that make it so much popular. First of all, you should know that PHP is easy to read and equally easy to understand which has made it a popular tool for web developers across the world. This kind of simplicity is not available with other programming languages around.

In addition, this programming language is not as complex as most others available around; it’s rather clean and organized making it immensely popular among pros and newcomers alike. More so, in terms of providing control over websites, PHP is simply far ahead than the rest in the domain. It gets one rid of intricate and longer scripts and rather lets one do the same functions using just a few lines of codes. Since it is open source in nature, editing remains an extremely simple and easy affairs for anyone. Above all, it’s 100% free and thus developers are not required to either buy licenses or invest in some costly software for a programming language.

Cost efficiency aside, it helps developers make powerful websites and contribute to the success of their clients’ vision. More so, unlike most other programming languages, it’s compatible with various languages and services and databases including HTML and CSS. More so, its ability to make web content highly dynamic makes it the most popular and viable option for web development projects of varied scale and size. More so, PHP has a big community on the internet and users facing any problem with it can take advantage from vast materials available online. No coding issues will ever trouble anyone as solutions will be immediate from the community.

In a way, businesses should look to hire only the best PHP development company to achieve their goals with ease. Using this programming language means neither you need to spend more nor have to face any problems with it as it’s an open source technology with a lot of references and guidelines to be accessed on the internet. One can learn this language, join its community or become a contributor to it. In overall, you can easily trust PHP for giving you superior web development results. You can trust it to get dynamic web pages and boost the overall performance of the website.

Ten Major Tips to Develop a Multilingual Web Site to Work

If you are living in a country that its native language is something rather than English language, then you may like to develop your website to offer content in the language of your own country.

There are millions of websites on the Internet that are all in English language but there are billions of people on the earth that speak in a different language and are not familiar with English language.

However, most of the Internet users are basically familiar with English language and could use the Internet but there are many subjects that are hard to understand for those people whom their language is not English.

One example is websites related to pharmaceutics. There are tons of very difficult to understand phrases in the content. The other example is educational websites that basically should provide content in the local language not English language.

You may have many clients and business partners that wish to read your sales copy and product information in their own language.

So, having a website that provides the content in a language rather than English language is necessary for you. Chinese, Arabic, Persian, Dutch, France and many other languages are general samples of most used languages on the Internet. For you to start a multilingual website, it is vital to consider some tips before starting to design and develop your websites:

1- The Code Page

The best code page that you should choose for your web pages is Unicode. Unicode is a kind of numeric presentation of characters that is two bytes and so can contain up to 65535 characters to show. Until now, there have been no human being languages in the universe that have had more than these much characters. So, by using Unicode, you are able to show all characters of your language. To represent your web page as a Unicode page, add below line of code in the head part of your page:

2- Tools For Development

For creating web pages in Unicode format, you should have a tool to be able to type in your language. One of the tools that are widely used by web developers is Microsoft Front Page.

If this tool is installed on Windows XP then you have the most powerful set of software to create Unicode documents. FrontPage is a WYSIWYG tool for creating web pages and you can easily choose the language of your web page in options of the page and appropriate HTML tags would be automatically inserted in the code.

3- Nature of the Language

If your language is Right-To-Left like many of Asian and Middle East languages, for example, Arabic, Persian and Hebrew, you should tune your operating system to be able to switch from Left-To-Right to Right-To-Left typing method to be able to type from Right and from Left. If you are a Microsoft Windows user, you can configure your system for multiple languages and keyboards, each of them having different kind of input methods. For example, you can add Farsi as the second language of your Windows and then switch from English to Farsi by pressing a combination of keys and start typing in Farsi. Also switching from RTL to LTR would be possible by another key combination.

4- Navigation and Design Considerations

Some languages force to apply some changes in the design and navigation of your website. For example, if you have a vertical menu bar, you may put it in the left of your pages for English pages and in the right for Arabic pages because Arabic is a RTL language and people are used to start reading pages from right to left. However this is not a rule, but it is better to consider it in designing pages.

Other issue is the entrance page. If your website is in two languages, you may add an entrance page that makes client choose the navigation language of your website. This page could be a very nice graphical page with two options for choosing desired language and then enters the web site in that language. In some cases, you may consider one language as the base and eliminate entrance page. In this case, you assume most of the visitors may use a language that is dominant and they enter automatically the web pages of your web site that are in that language. However, visitors would see a small icon in web pages that lets them switch to the other language.

Other method is to use IP2Country services that can find the country of the visitor from its IP address and by adding some simple dynamic code to your pages, you would be able to switch to the language of the visitor. However, this method is not %100 accurate and you should consider some percent of fault in recognizing the country of the visitor.

5- Font Face Considerations

When you are creating your web pages in a language rather than English, you would be limited in using font faces. There are a few font faces in windows that are installed automatically and can show multilingual characters. If you like your visitors view your pages correct without any need to install fonts, you have to use those minor number of multilingual fonts. One of the best font faces is Tahoma that is somehow easy to read and contains all Unicode characters also is included in Windows.

6- Database Driven Web Sites

If your web site is a database driven and you have forms that clients may fill and be posted to database, there would be lots of very technical issues that you should consider to be able to collect and retrieve data in different languages. This part is beyond the aims of this article.

7- Search Engines

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a major issue for multilingual web sites and you should be aware that not necessarily all major search engines and directories handle multilingual web pages perfectly and your web site may not be listed in many of them. Google is a search engine that indexes multilingual web pages too. However there are some issues and difficulties but it works well enough for your web site to be indexed in your language.

8- Domain Name

No matter in which language is your web site, the domain name of your web site should be in English because at this time, having a domain name in other language is not a very easy thing to have and multilingual domain names are a new issue and is under development. There are some solutions but are not yet set perfectly. So, I suggest you forget those solutions and choose an English name for your web site.

9- Web Server And Hosting

However major web servers, like Microsoft IIS and Apache both support multilingual web pages, but I strongly recommend you to ask the hosting company for this issue and make yourself sure that there wont be problems for your web pages to be served by the hosting company.

10- Name Web Site Files

Never use Unicode characters in the name of your web pages. However your operating system, like Windows, lets your choose the file names in Unicode characters but be %100 sure that theses web pages would have serious difficulties both server side and client side.

In many cases, you won’t be able even to upload your web pages to your host space and client’s browsers also won’t be able to recognize the name of page and would generate error. This is true for name of images, flash files, scripts and other pages. Just use English names.

However I have tried to cover major issues in developing multilingual web sites but this issue is something that needs experience and you should yourself discover many of new issues that are not included in this article.