If you want to make a presence online, with all the advantages and obligation that come from that, you have to get some necessary steps. Depending of your experience over internet they can be easy or they can be difficult, but with the appropriate help everything will be easy and you will only benefit from this activity.

Get your domain name

The first thing you need to do before anything else is to get yourself a domain name. Choose wisely because it's going to represent you online and must define you: it can be your name, your trademark or business name or your field of activity.

Depending the Top Level Domain (TLDs) you choose (they have their own rules), you will have to pay an annual fee to a registrar for the right to use that domain name or you can buy it "for life" (until you die, the interne dies or you decide to delete it). In some situations you'll have to buy similar domain name in order to prevent lose of clients or fraud, but you can find more information from tips for registering and choosing the domain name - read them and follow them.

You have to protect your domain name, so you have to pay attention to this thing in order to protect it from stealing.

Joomla is one of the most popular free CMS (Content Management Systems) that gathered a lot of fans / users in the last few years. The number of websites created with Joomla is numbered in a few hundred thousands, so one can say it's one of the most popular tools to create web sites. The next reasons are only a few why you shoold use Joomla for your website design. You only need a web server that handles php and a mysql database to install this CMS and, after configuring it, to have a functional website. Next you have to add some functions (using the components, modules and plugins) you need and select or create a Joomla theme.

It is user friendly and easy to learn

Even beginners are welcome to use this - it may take longer to find out about all its function but it's easy to learn. It takes at most a few days to learn it all over. The CMS is rather big (especially when you never worked with other CMSs) because it's under constant development for some years, but it's easy to follow the modification made in time - there are availabe online various versions of Joomla.

It's a free Content Managment System

You can download for free, so this would be of your advantage. You wouldn't be wasting money for an application that you wouldn't even know how to use. The recommendation it to spend money on its customization (especially when you are a beginner and you don't know how to handle it) and manteinance - but it's a lot less money than creating a website from scratch. Use experts in Joomla, or at least someone that have alreade worked with it for a few months or years.

It created a community that offers support

The constant use and improvement of Joomla triggered an increase number of users with expertise in different degres about this CMS, its structure and extensions. If you have problems (using, configuring or extending Joomla) you can search for responses with any search engines - there are great chances to find them. Even if you don't find any good respons for your problem, you can always ask. Most of the online support is free, but in some cases you can pay for it (like an online subscription to some websites or for experts' responses).

It's extensible and flexible - it gives users control

Joomla was built to be enhanced. When you download and install the packege from Joomla development website you only get the main - basic package. There are thounsands of components, modules and plugins you can add this basic package from Joomla Extension Directory - some of them for free, some for a price. You have to know exactly what you want from your future website before adding any new script to your Content Management System.

It's secure by default

Joomla is built to be secure in most environments, but you must understand that Internet security is a vast and fast-moving topic. No set of rules can cover all possible situations, especially if new types of attack are being developed every year. This means you have to extend Joomla security with server security (I mean your server security).

Because Joomla is being developed and the developers add new functions or fix bugs (even security bugs) you should always update you Joomla version.

The policy become necessary when your employee have social interaction over internet with a lot of people all over the world and you don't want for this to interfere with your business. There are a lot of cases in the last few years about people losing their jobs because they have commented on Twitter or Facebook or they have posted on their personal blogs about their experience in your company or about their opinions about your clients.

Don't be very restrictive

You can not forbidd people to enjoy themselves and use social newtork. Also, don't creat a list with do not share things: it will only be longer and longer with time. It's better if use the policy to set some guidelines instead of do not do things.

Don't forget to specify how much time people should use social media

For some people in your company promoting your business online and offline is their jobs, they do it daily. But for the most employee social media interaction is just for fun. If you don't make it clear they can spend their time on social networks instead working for you, as they should.

Encourage the people you are woking with to use further social media, especially if they are well-connected (they have lots and lots of friends), but don't let them turn into a bad habit.

Make your social media policy very clear, but do not enter in details

I mean you should be focused about activities, connections, relationships. Social networks are perfect in promoting your products and services, but these will probably change in time. If you are clearly asking your employee to promote your business and its every part you will have to update the policy every time you are adding, updating and removing a product or service. On the other hand, this will irritate your employee and they will no longer enjoy your company.

Adapt and update your policy

Times are changing, we all know it and we notice it every day. Do not include in your social media policy old and outdated stuff (ideas, rules). If something changes in your business policy (a new market, a new section, something big in general) and this is relevant in your social media policy update it right away. Don't postpone things because problems might appear.

Do not create too many social media policies

Considering how many social networks exists over internet (some of them well known, with millions of users, others with only a few thounsands) and how many of them appear and dissapear every year, you can be tempted to create a policy for each them (one for Twitter, one for Facebook, for personal blogs and youtube). Don't. Use one general social media policy to consider all possible social media and customize it for your business.

 

Before starting to list what are the factors that make a website good I should tell you that all successful websites have 2 things in common: they are enjoyable (beautiful colors, great templates that make users to like or love them) and they are (in some degree) simple (the users don't have to think hard how to browse the site and what are the meaning of every section on the page). The content is varies from one website to another - it's what you put online - and it's a completely different story.

As you already know, websites are powerful marketing tools in promoting any business. But there are a few factors that improves the quality of your website: visual appealing, accessibility, user friendly and functionality. And it all starts from the homepage, the very first page most of the users usually land when visiting a new website they did not hear about before. If they find your website using the search engines and land on any of your posts, sooner or later they will get to your homepage, the root of your website.

This is why your first page is very important and it needs to be done in a manner to make it simple and very easy to use. Any of your visitors should understand quickly (most of) the structure of your website from your homepage.

Plan your website structure and homepage before you start creating them

When you are having a custom website you can ask for the web designer's advice, his experience will help you decide the best way your first page should look. If you are getting a free CMS (there are a lot over the internet like joomla, wordpress, drupal and many others) you will have available some options about how your homepage should look, but it's better to ask for advice in this case also.

Anyway, you should always plan before start working on the website. It can happen that you start working and, after a time, you realize that there is a better way for your website structure and homepage and you'll have to work harder to recover the lost time. In worst case scenario, you can start all overt again.

The second important thing is that once you've decided you should keep a specific format, don't start altering your idea while creating it.

The template for your website should contain several pages, including the homepage

There are 2 ways to approach the creation of a website:

  • you want to create something that can easily work online with some content, the second step would be creating or selecting a template for what you have (this usually happen when you select a free CMS)
  • you start from a template and create the functionality depending from some images the web developer gets (this usually happen with custom websites)

When selecting an existing template for your website or deciding what a custom template should contain assure yourselves that structure of the website is very well defined. That mean that you should know exactly how every page of the site should look (as design, not as content) before approving the template and sending it further, to web development.

Knowing all these, you should pay attention to some rules about an usable and accessible homepage. Some of these rules apply to the rest of your website.

How to make your homepage usable

Efficiency

Your website homepage should be efficient for any Internet user (even the unexperienced ones), to allow him or her to accomplish simple tasks even he/she never interacted with your system before.

Easy to learn and remember

Any visitor should use your homepage easy even when it's the first time he is accessing your website. When he learns the rules that apply on your site it will be very easy to find what he is interested in. Even more: he will remember all the stuff the next time he will visit.

No errors

It's very important that your homepage (and your website) should not contain errors. This will block some users to browse your website and it does not look. Some of the users may not return if they find error on your site and, more, you don't correct them as soon as you find about them. That's why it's important to ask for feedback from your visitors.

How to make your homepage accessible

Use descriptive links

The homepage in particular should have links with information about the meaning of the website, about what you are offering (products and services), about you and your business. That will lead the visitors directly to what he wants insted browsing from page to page.

Make it available for everyone

That means that everyone connected to Internet should be able to access your website, no matter if they are using PCs, laptops, tables, smartphones and any other gadgets (lately even your refrigeration can browse the Internet, but I am sure that accessing websites using the refrigerator is the last thing on your mind right now). So, use plugins for different devices to assure the accessibility.

Use sitemaps and search options

This will only help the visitors to find whatever they wants on site instead browsing from page to page. Sitemaps also provide the structure of the website in a manner everyone can understand. It's important that sitemaps and search options to be on homepage, but they should also be on every other page on your website.

As you already know (if you don't know it yet, you better find out before it's too late) your website is your "face" on the internet, they way to present yourself (as person and/or as business) on the world wide web and it's going to say a lot about what kind of person are and what kind of business you run. If it's a good website it will definetly draw attention of your potential customers. If it's a bad website it will draw attention away from them. It can become a very important piece in your marketing campaign, so its design must be treated with a lot of attention.

When creating a new website you have 2 options: you can get a template from the internet (free or paid) for any of the current free CMS (like joomla, drupal, wordpress and all the others) or you can get some to design it from scratch. Each option has good and bad things, pros and cons that you should consider when choosing the best way for you.

Pros of custom website design

It reflects your ideas

All the existing free CMS on the market are limited in some way or another. Of course, you can add a lot of plugins, components and modules to customize the as you want, but, even so, the final version can be different that you intended it to be. It may not reflect your ideas about what you want to present on Internet.

Using a custom website design will have as result the best reflection for your ideas, your company and, why not, your brand. If designed professionaly the website will fit exactly in your maketing strategy on Internet and will have good effects in offline (what humans call "real life"). 

You can build it from scratch

The beauty with custom websites is that you start them from scratch and you can develop them in any direction you want. With the current free CMS you go in their intented direction and you modify it to fit your ideas - but that can be done in some limited ways. When big modification of any CMS are involved you can easily discover that you could spent the same amount of time, money and energy to create your own CMS with a much better result.

Consider that building a website from scratch will help you maintaining a strict timing of it's development: you can launch the website online with some well defined sections and options and you can always add new sections and option whenever you want or need them (after weeks, months or even years after the initial release).

Updates and alterations are easy to make (easy maintenance)

You can say that updates and alterations are also easy to make when using any of the current free CMS on the market. It's true, in some degree. But, as a webdesigner, I have a certain logic when I am coding. Every person has his own logic and his own way to write code and documentation and I say it's a lot easier to modify a piece of code that follows my logic that a code inside a CMS that follows other people's logic.

Of course, this would mean that, as a web designer, I should always be "in touch" with my customers and always be the person to modify the code. It real life it's not always the case, but the custom websites usually come with a strict documentation that help a people to follow their inner logic.

Cons of custom website design

It can cost a lot of time, energy and money

Depending of who you hire to design your website and what kind of information you want to put online the product can cost between 100 euros and 3,000-4,000 euros. Some big portals can cost more and it will take months to develop.

So, when you decide to have a custom website designed take into consideration what you want and how much time, energy and money you have to spent.

The updates and alterations may take some time

There are a lot of tools, some of them really good, that help someone to design custom websites. They can be used to update or alter the final product (the one you put online and want to modify), but in some situations there new sections and functions for your website will require the old-fashion coding - and that takes a time, a lot more that if you were using a free CMS.

Furthermore, you may need to hire someone to be always at your service when you need him to alter, update or solve problems with your website. If you have a small not important websites there are small chances for something bad to happen and you may not need any alterations or updates. Otherwise you will need money to pay for his services.

The final result may not be what you want

There is always a risk that the final result will not be want you wanted. In such situation you would spent a lot of time, money and energy for nothing - it can be a total loss and you may need to start designing the website all over again. It's worse when you realise that it's a faulty website after you have launched it online - beside the previous loses you can add loses in prestige and some bad words about you, your business or your brand.

Since working at Supravirtual I've seen or heard about a lot of situation with good and bad websites. We can testify (from our experience) that a website must be created in a professional manner if you want to yield good results. A professionally designed websites (with a lot of great content - we also take care of that for some of our customers) always drive traffic which can be converted to sales... and money.

It's not a secret that most users judge websites by their appearance (first) and their content (second). It's true that your content it's the most important thing in getting new visitors, but the aspect of the website is the second main reason those visitors will return to read more. Allong with great content, getting your site (or sites if you have more than one) visually appealing will assure the flow the visitors, and in order to be appealing it has (they have) to be user friendly (the most important thing), navigable, attractive and organized.

There are some web designers or website owners that do not care about how their websites looks (not enough or not at all), they are interested mainly in designing and developing websited that function properly.

There are a few tips about how to make you website(s) to be visually appealing:

Plan ahead how your website will look and function

The first thing you should do when designing a website is to plan ahead how your website will look and function. It's easy to install a Joomla or a Wordpress (for example) and have an online wel configured website in less than an hour, but usually it's not enough: you have to get the best theme for you installed CMS (from the existing ones - there are "only" a few thousands or to design one from scratch).

As an experienced webdesinger I can tell you for sure that the different between a client that knows exactly what he wants and one that is trying to find out while the website is being developed is huge. I've got both of them and the previous sentence is the "voice" of experience.

Establish the target for your website

In matter of interacting you other people you must already know that you can say the same thing in several different way - they have about the same meaning, but it's not the same thing. Jokes are in many cases very common things told in a funny manner that is hilarous, they can even get people shocked in some degree.

The same thing apply to websites: there are several way to send the same message, every way is translated to a different template to your website. Each template can be visually appealing for one category of people but others will not like it at all.

Keep your design simple

People love websites with vivid colors and images (using heavily CSS to do this is recommended), but in the same time they don't iike websites that are too crowded with visual elements and texts all over the page. They need too navigate freely on site and to understand it quickly in order to love it. No websites full with images (especially the kind of images that's going from one corner to another), too much text and, especially, with tones of advertisemens is visually appealing to the users.

Use graphics, colors and images

As I said, people love websites that contain graphics of some kind. CSS is the best thing for this, and the new tools for 2012 will definetly help you get a better visual appealing website from this point of view. Probably the most important new tools among all is HTML5, so keep yourselves informed about it.

Keep the visual consistency - be consistent in your design

You should consider not only the website consistency, one most important things from the perspective of the structure of the website, but also the visual consistency. Apply the same rules to your design in order to get it visually appealing: all your fonts, text formats, link colors label, graphics and page format should be the same all across the website.

The most important thing you should remember about webdesign is that you should put in your visitors' shoes. You are designing the website from your own perspective, so you must be proud about what your product and you have to love it in order to get the best product, but you are also designing it for your users. Always try to get their perspective in order to improve yours and to improve your websites.

The first thing to consider when designing web forms is its utility: where on site you are going to use it and what is the meaning of the form. A log in or a signup web form is not the same with the form used for placing an online order for something or a service, they are very different in matter of content and their place inside a website.

You must keep in mind that users (especially first time users) love to play with the service (the website and what its content) instead filling long web form for an account they might never use in the future or for something they will never buy. So try to keep your user requirements minimal when filling any form. Let them explore your site, if you need from him lots and lots of data in order to make an order or to complete the user profile for a social media website or network break the data into several web form with the essential information only, on specific sections.

In order to have an effective and usable web form (any web form) you need 3 important things: the HTML tags of input elements encapsulated inside a <form> tag, a computer programming language to generate (if necessary) and to get and post the data and a SQL database to store the data.

The HTML tags of web forms

All the inputs of a web form are encapsulated into the <form> tag, the most used types are text, textarea, radio, checkbox, select (dropdowns). They are send to the server using the submit button. You must have a good grasp of HTML tags in order to deal with all these elements, you have to understand the basic concepts and you have to format the text in general. It's not so hard you might think, you can learn everything about the subject in only few days.

Progamming languages that get and post the data

The programming languages can generate some of the web form elements depeding of the case (you can use the same form to add or modify an item into the database), but that's not necessary. Most of the web forms are static, hardcoded in HTML.

But all the web forms send data to server using _POST or _GET variables and you have to deal with those variables using the programming languages. Some of the web forms are only used to send mails (the contact forms), but a lot of web forms store the data into the SQL databases and you have to know how to do it using at least one of the languages supported by your server. You can use php, asp.net or jsp (java server pages - it uses java), for example, for the server side and you can use javascript to validate the inputs in the web forms on the client side (the actual website loaded by the browser).

The SQL database to store the data

One of the most common databases used for websitesare MySql databases, but they are not the only ones. In some systems (especially internal system for companies that uses websites to gather information from several worldwide locations) there are used Oracle databases because they are more professional (than MySql) and there are provided services to recover data if the system crashes (there is always a chance for this to happen, even it's a very small one).

There are several other database systems to store data, you can always search for more information about them. They are used along with the programming languages to insert, modify (update) or delete the data.

For more information about this subject or for custom web forms you can contact us at Supravirtual.ro.

Related External Links

Webdesign Web design tips How to design effective and usable web ...

As you already know, in the last few years a lot of tools were created in order to help improving someone's work in designing websites (along with other fields of activity over internet). It's seems very easy to install a Joomla, Drupal or Wordpress on a server, to configure it, to select a proper theme and to write some content in order to have a website running allright and looking nice. It many cases it would be do-it-yourself website, meaning you can do all of these without any help from a professional. Some web hosting companies offer some services on a server and some software packages that generate websites for a very fair price (from the client's point of view).

But being able to do it yourself doesn't mean that you don't need help from somebody working in the field. The packages that generate websites are cheap, but usually they are not complete: they are offering only the minimal options for a website. If you, as a client, want something else or something more, you will soon find the limitation of such packages as a bad thing. On the other way, big free packages such Joomla, Drupal or Wordpress have to be configured properly and sometimes that can be very tricky for somebody that's using them the first time or does not have intensive experience with them. They also offer only limited options, but the good thing is that this kind of free products created around them a community and the users created addition scripts that allows you as end-user to improve your website with a lot of efficient solutions. The problem is the big number of third party solutions (there are hundreds or thousands of plugins and components for each system) and you have to lose some time to search the best ones for you. If you don't find what you are looking (as templates, components or modules) you have to hire a professional to do the job for you and you are back to square one.

If you are really decided to have a website created entirely by yourself you should consider some things before you start to do anything. First the site have to be loaded very fast by the browsers (it's one of the criteria used by the search engines in ranking websites), second it must submit to some minimum requirements like a good structure (with headers, columns, row, titles, keywords) for SEO and good looking aspect. I've written some articles about this subject, you can always read more for details. The template is also important, but it's based on the structure of your website, so DO NOT select a template and start designing your site around it. If you do it you will never be able to develop your site in time by adding new options outside the original template and it have all the chances to become a dead end. In this case you will have to start all over again in a few months or years.

The final tip I am going to say in this articles is that with do-it-yourself websites you will find for sure most of the secrets of developing the site and maintaining its service by trial and error on your own expense. You have some chances to get it write from the beginning, but they don't look very good. You have much better chance of crashing your website or getting penalized for doing things wrong (like black hat seo, for example) if you don't ask for a professional's opinion and you don't pay for it.

Designing a successful website means doing things righ (from the technological point of view) and being in trends, but this is a part of social media and only the SEO consultants can tell you what's best.

Some may consider that for being a good web designer you have to have some artistic sense in order to create an attractive design for the web pages, you have to be a programmer in order to understand what's behind the page and the mechanisms of the internet servers and the world wide web, you have to be at least a SEO consultant (or even a SEO expert) in order to make the web sites optimized for the search engines. It's true, all these skills can help a lot if you decide to create web sites and you can always learn about the sub8jects or you can always gather a team of people that can do everything for you.

But there are some things you can not replace and if you don't have them in you don't start web designing.

Communication Skills

Everything over internet is communication: in their websites people are trying to send a message in a proper way. They might know the message (if you are lucky - some of my clients had an idea and that's all) but they don't know how to put it into practice. In this case you have to explain them how things are working on internet and what's the best thing to do in order to get the most and the best results from their idea, how to spread the message to the people in the best way.

Having good communication skills means you may take the lead from time to time and, the most important, to have a lot of patience. Your subject of interest and job is the internet, but as a web designer you have to work also with people. So if you don't know how to work with people try a different job.

Being complacent

As I noticed, some web designers try to satisfy the clients' every whim. The first and the most important result is a loss in time and energy for every project and that's not productive. But the clients are NOT always right, and an experienced web designer knows it very well, so the second result is a slow loading website - something so big and so fuzzy that some people will never visit it again.

Be professional and know when and how to say NO to a client when he or she is asking the wrong things. If you can't do this don't webdesign.

Know how and what to delegate

As I wrote earlier, you don't have to know all the skills to be a brilliant web designer (as programming languages, working with image softwares like Photoshop or Corel Draw, SEO). This skills help a lot, but you can not do it all in order to be successful in your job. It very helpul to gather around you some experts in their field and delegate parts of the project according to people's skills.

Finding a niche

The internet is huge and it's getting bigger every day. It's very difficult to involve in every field of activity there (even in webdesign). Find yourself one or more niches (but not too many) and become an expert - you'll get more projects that you'll love to do in this manner. Passion is very important in having success.

It's important to learn about different fields of web designing, but if you strech yourself to much you'll do nothing of value to post as resume.

 

Working with Joomla and Community Builder I've got the following error:

Fatal error: Class 'moscomprofilerUser' not found in /home/joomla/public_html/administrator/components/com_comprofiler/plugin.foundation.php on line 1002

The error was triggered because one module (a customized module for Community Builder) was set to public access but it was requiring data from the logged in user and it found no such data. The module should have been set to registered access. Doing so made the error disappear.

We create websites to present your activity to the world and applications for internet that help you organize your activity as eficient as possible and without loses (in money, time and energy) whatever you are while you are online. You only need an internet domain, space on a server and the app we develop for you.

The search engine optimisation part is very important for websites - they have to match certain criteria in order to appear as often as possible in the search results. We analize your website and we offer consultancy about the options you have about to boost its visibility and organic traffic.

We develop applications for various companies and organisations according to their specifications and requirements in order to be used by employees and partners to work more efficient, making the transition from excel files and spreadsheets used before to the internet of things. We offer support for the applications used now and we develop them further using modern technologies.

We offer consultancy about the informatic system you have installed and we offer sollutions to make the more efficient, to improve and develop them further, we analize the activities inside your company and / organisation and we offer sollutions for the projects you want to develop.