Choosing the right web design company is a tricky thing. There’s a lot at stake, and if you end up with a bad design, bad code and are nowhere to be found in the search engines then you’re at a massive loss.
Here are a few pointers to help you narrow down your search and find the perfect company for you:
Don’t just go with the first company you find in Google. Ask people you know or local businesses with good websites which company they used.
Is their own website designed well?
There’s nothing worse than a web design company with a terrible website. If a company can’t design and maintain their own website well enough, will they do that for you? Although you don’t need to like their design, a well designed site is a good indicator.
Do you like their design work?
Every designer should have a portfolio. Have a look at their work, and see if anything catches your eye. Always remember that every client wants a different thing, so bear in mind that they may not have the same aims as yours.
Do their sites work well?
There’s a lot more than just the design. Check their sites in different browsers to see if they break or look same across the board. Make sure they are easy to navigate, well thought out and convey the client’s message well.
Have they made a site with features you want?
Although it’s unlikely that they will have made something to your exact specification, they may have made a site with certain parts you need e.g. ecommerce, content management system etc. Don’t be afraid to contact the company and ask them for specific examples of things you are after.
Do their sites rank well?
Try and find some of their portfolio sites in Google, obviously without using their company name! You want your completed website to be easily found, so make sure that they can do that for you.
So what’s next?
Gather a shortlist of the best companies you have found and approach each one with your specification. Remember don’t always go for the cheapest option. It is more important to go for a company that understands your needs, you can communicate well with and will deliver you exactly what you set out to get.
It’s amazing to think that the number of mobile internet users looks set to surpass desktop users within the next four years.
Just take a look at the facts:
- 89% of theUKpopulation use a mobile phone [Source: Ofcom, October 2010]
- 54.3 million smart phones were sold in the first quarter of 2010 alone. [Source: Gartner, via AOP Digital Landscape Report, June 2010].
- 7.1 million people access the internet through a mobile phone [Source: Internet Monitor Survey, Kantar Media, September 2010]
- Smart phone usage in theUKis growing up to 70% faster than inEurope. [Source: comScore/GSMA MMM, via AOP Digital Landscape Report, June 2010].
These figures really show how much we’re in love with smart phones. And it’s easy to see why – as Claire discussed in her post last week –smart phones can be used anywhere and everywhere. The internet is available to your customers on the go and as long as you have a mobile website, your customers can find you while they are on the train, waiting for the bus, on their coffee break or even when they’re having their hair cut!
If potential customers can find your mobile site from their smartphone, they are more likely to choose you over your competitors. Because smartphones are great for sharing, your customers can also use their phone to share links to products with their friends via Facebook or Twitter – meaning that they can spread the word about your products for you!
Now is the time to get ahead of your competition by investing in a mobile website. These sites are specially designed for new smartphone technology, helping your company to tap into a lucrative audience of new customers that want access to your website when they’re on the go.
A mobile website is different to a regular website in both appearance and functionality. Mobile websites need to be much simpler than a conventional website in order to suit the mobile phone format. This means that there need to be fewer graphics (as these can take time to load) and less text so that your customers can access the information they need fast.
A mobile site also needs to be compatible with the different smartphones on the market and therefore needs to be coded in a clever way. If you find that your current website looks great on a desktop, but not so hot on a mobile, then it’s time to upgrade and get a mobile website that suits the purpose perfectly.
Make sure you are leading the way and contact eSterling today about your new mobile website by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When your customers search using Google, it is possible for them to refine their search to shopping only results to help them find the products that they need. This is useful to consumers if they have a specific product in mind and they wish to compare prices between different retailers.
To try out Google shopping for yourself, simply click on “Shopping” at the top left of the Google home page and type in a product name (e.g ‘iPhone 4’). This directs you to the Google Product Search page and here you will find a list of products that are available to buy on the internet. These results can be sorted by category, price, brand and retailer – helping the user to locate exactly what they want quickly and easily.
If you have an e-commerce website, you will not want to miss the opportunity to get your products listed in the Google Shopping results. Making sure that your products appear in this search will help you attract new business and generate sales by helping your customers to find your site easily.
With the help of eSterling, it’s simple to submit a product feed to Google, as we can configure this to happen automatically from your e-commerce database. For further information about how to get your products listed in Google Shopping, please contact eSterling Limited by emailing email@example.com.
As web designers our job is not only to create kick-ass web sites, but also to educate our clients in the ways of the internet and to explain to them the limitations we all have to abide by.
In this article I will outline some of the biggest issues that face web designers and developers across the world and help you realise why we do certain things the way we do.
1) Cross Browser Support
What’s a browser? Why is it angry? Let me explain..
A browser is the program your computer uses to view web sites and there are a number of different browsers you can choose from, the main contenders are Firefox, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome etc. They all render websites in their own special way, which can alter how they appear to you.
In order to be provide you with a valid website we have to test each site in over 5 browsers and make sure it is not only looking right but also functioning correctly in each of them.
Add to this the fact that the companies who make these browsers will keep on updating them, putting multiple versions of multiple browsers into the mix. This makes the job of the web designer tricky to say the least!
One browser in particular has made our job more difficult over the past 9 years and that browser is little ol’ Microsoft Internet Explorer 6. Many of the biggest web sites in the world have now dropped support for this browser, as have many design agencies, so if you are using the dreaded Internet Explorer 6, it’s really time you upgraded.
2) Resolution Issues
I’m not about to confuse you with inane computer jargon so don’t worry, but I do have to mention the Resolution Issue which is cropping up more and more.
Have you ever thought “I want my home page not to scroll”
or “I want my web site to fill up the screen”?
When you say “screen”, web designers think “OK, is it a 17’, 19’, 21’ screen or bigger?
When you say “scroll”, we think “Not scrolling on your resolution? Or all resolutions and screen sizes?”
You see, its not just as easy as coding in HeightOfSite=100% its far more complicated than that.
What we have to do as web designers is come up with a happy medium whereby the site vertically scrolls as little as possible in as many resolutions and monitor sizes as possible. Getting it right for all screen resolutions and monitor sizes is a bit of a juggling act. The end result looks easy, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes!
As a side note, vertical scrolling is now second nature to internet users so it really has no bearing on the success of your new web site.
I hope you have found this article interesting and informative.
So remember, even if something seems easy to you, its probably not the case. You have hired the web designer so trust him or her to do their job properly.
Talking of which, my next post will feature handy tips on how to choose the right Web Design Agency for your next project.
Google have updated their HTML5Rocks website with all new content – http://www.html5rocks.com/ While obviously targeted at Chrome developers in particular the site has grown from the demo slideshow presented last year into a useful point of reference now containing samples and tutorials.
Also gaining some traction are sites offering basic HTML5 frameworks such as HTML5 Boilerplate – http://html5boilerplate.com/ – which help ease the development time which stock implementations of basic code. Even with such reference code becoming commonplace web application development still lacks tools to speed up the process. Two that are headed in the right direction though are Glimmer – http://visitmix.com/labs/glimmer/ – a Flash-like jQuery animation builder and 280North’s Atlas – http://280atlas.com/ – which mimics Apple’s Xcode. With an acceleration of support for new web standards we hope there will be an increase in the availability of such tools.
The demo scene has been around for a long time. Starting out as intros for cracked software titles back as far as the Commodore 64 days it wasn’t long until tech heads were admiring the work of the coders putting together the jaw dropping technical displays pushing hardware to it’s limit more than the software they had obtained by less than legitimate means. The idea of a demo is to push hardware to produce effects that shouldn’t in all reason be possible while doing so with the least amount of code possible. 64k is seen as pretty roomy for a program, 16k is still enough room to swing a cat but the true hardcore programmers show their skills with a limit of 1k. That’s 1024 bytes. To put that in perspective this article is already 775 characters long at this point.
Barely one year after the announcement of Wave Google have decided to discontinue it’s development as a standalone product. Although there was a huge amount of hype behind it’s launch Google Wave was always plagued by the simplest of questions – what do I do with it ? The blog posting announcing it’s cancellation suggests that even Google themselves didn’t know what to do with it. The “future of email” is no more.
A recent mock up for a new design had a couple of us musing on the avenues for adding interesting discoverable content to websites. By interesting I of course mean silliness that may not be appreciated by the clientèle and so the thought ended there. There are however websites that have audiences that are perhaps more appreciative of easter eggs. A growing subset of these use the Konami Code first seen back in the heady days of the NES. Enter the elusive code on such a site and all manner of wackiness occurs. Try it on Facebook for instance. Clearly it’s a bit onerous to try this on every website you visit just on the off chance they have something for you but thankfully wikipedia steps up with this handy list – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Konami_code_websites
Want to add it to your website ? Konami-js provides an easy drop in solution http://www.snaptortoise.com/konami-js/ and there’s a jQuery plug-in for fans of that library http://www.gethifi.com/blog/konami-code-jquery-plugin-pointlessly-easy
P.s. It’s Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A
Nary a month on from the UK launch of the iPad it’s iPhone 4 day. Beyond the sight of people getting giddy over expensive consumer electronics the proliferation of mobile devices with all sorts of different resolutions and orientations raises the question of how best to serve web content that can be viewed as nature intended on all these devices. We’re not even past clients asking for pages that “fit on one screen” to which we invariably point to articles such as this – http://www.cxpartners.co.uk/thoughts/the_myth_of_the_page_fold_evidence_from_user_testing.htm – so how do we build for everyone ?
One answer are CSS media queries. Simply put these allow you to supply different CSS depending upon queries about the devices resolution and orientation. For more information see http://broadcast.oreilly.com/2010/04/using-css-media-queries-ipad.html and http://www.alistapart.com/articles/responsive-web-design/