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.

It is well known that the domain names registration has became an industry and some people are making big money from registering or purchasing domain names, developing websites and/or selling or reseling them to others. Beside these people, the main reason of purchasing websites is the someone wants to develop a business or a network of sites and somebody else registered a desired domain name.

It does not matter the reason you are purchasing the website, always check the trends when you are decided to make the step. Even if you are already sure about the domain name you want, the TLD market is always changing, as long the people are pressuring the Internet authorities to release new TLDs. You can always find the free domain names on different TLDs if the primary domain name is already taken. I've head some time ago that there was taken a decision about registering the TLDs freely, as you want, but I'll have to check it out (to update my information) and I'll post another article about this story.

The second issue you must consider is the combination of time, energy and money you can or want to spend on developing the desired website. It may seems cheeper to register a free domain name and to develop the website later than purchasing an existing online website, but it's not always so easy. The Internet is very competitive and developing a brand new site to the point it becomes a concurent to the existing ones can take more money, time and energy you thought it will take at the beginning.

Always check the reputation of the existing domain name and/or the people you are buying the website from. Some times a simple search using yahoo, bing or google is enough to get the necessary data, but usually it's not enough. The online tools can bring additional information about the website: there are chances that the domain was banned or penalized in the past because of malware software or back hat seo methods used to promote it. On the other hand, there are always people trying to scam others with promises they have no intention to put in practice. They do succed in many cases, but the bad reputation precedes them in time and you can spot them if you search enough.

An important thing to consider when purchasing a website is to protect your domain name. It may be possible the previous owner of the site did not protected it (in some ways or not at all), so assure yourself that there is (almost) no chance that you'll get your domain name stolen or redirected to nowhere.

Check the similar domain names of the website you want to purchase. It's possible the one similar domain is more attractive or more succesful than the desired domain.

If you are a web designer or a web developer you already know that HTML is the base of websites, that the programming languages and the web technologies use this in order to show all kind of information over the internet (from text to images, from video to games and everything else). If you are not in the business of designing or developing websites (but you want to start and that's why you are here) you may not already know that HTML was the invention of the W3 group in the early days of the internet, when the world wide web was launched. That happened ages ago, in the beginning of the 1990s, and getting information from online was clunky and could be done only by the ones that understood and learned to maneuver the command lines for sending and receiving the data. Since then the dynamic HTML, CSS (cascading style sheets) and XML were developed and they made possible all the online operations we find today casual and common. A seed ascends around the turntable.

One of the biggest changes announced in the last months is HTML5 (the fifth update of the first code), it's considered the new language for presenting the content on the Internet. It's still in development and it's going to be released in 2012. HTML5 brings new features that make easy for the developers to incorporate video, audio, fonts, web grafics and animation, drag and drop functions into their web pages, it's also backwards to previous updates of HTML so you shouldn't worry about the existing websites - you don't have to redesign them to match the new standard. jQuery has started killing Flash because of its animation and new features of Javascript, it is said that HTML5 will finish the job for sure and, as a web designer, I believe it.

Online Sprite Box Tool

This tool help you compress the images and to put them into a format called "sprite" in order to increase the speed of your image transition and decrease the loading time of the pages. You can create images in sprite format with jQuery, CSS3 and HTML5 tool.

Online 3D Sketch Tool

This tool uses the HTML Canvas to create 3D drawing, 3D images that rotate, vibrate and that can have dashed line elements. To rotate the canvas in 3D you need to hold down SPACE and then DRAG horizontally with your cursor.

Online Font Testing Tool

As a web designer, from time to time, I had problems meeting my customer's request about specific fonts they loved. Using this tool will solve the problem by allowing a developer to test custom fonts online for any web page without changing any HTML and CSS code.

Online Velocity Sketch Tool

JayWeeks and this online velocity sketch, a HTML5 canvas drawing tool which you can create strange looking things. Use it, you'll love the results and you'll want to use it more in the future.

Online Pattern Generator Tool

Everyone need a pattern generator tool for some things or another, usually for the backgrounds for websites (from my point of view). This tool uses the HTML5 canvas to provide you a pattern in seconds.

Online XRay Tool

Using this tool you can view the details of the page elements for any webpage. The Firebug does a similar thing, but I don't know (yet) how it's handling HTML5 elements such as canvas to provide the design information needed (as this tool does).

Online Automatoon Tool

Automatoon is pure HTML5 and it's used for animation. There is no Flash used in HTML5, so your animations will play just fine on all common web browsers and all the devices like iPhones, iPads, Nokia (with Meebo) and ones that have Android operating system installed.

Online HTML5 Audio Maker Tool

With the introduction of audio tag in HTML5 we will see more and more websited using the audio, even if most of the current Internet users avoid the sites with this option (unless it's about dedicated sites for audio and video). This online audio maker tool can help you introduce to the new audio features of HTML5.

Online SVG to HTML5 Canvas Tool

Most vector art packages can export the users' work as SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) files and with this tool you can convert the SVG file into it’s HTML5 canvas equivalent.

As a conclusion you can always check the standard and updates HTML5 at W3schools, that's the place where you can learn the most about the latest and the correct way to design websites. The arrival will be the HTML5 will be the standard for everthing that is HTML and XHTML.

One's presence over internet, as an individual or a business, is in part defined by the domains he or she is using to post articles, products and/or services. An appropriate domain name will boost your traffic and your popularity, it may become a trademark if it wasn't already before you have started the online activity. So you have to consider your domain name as assets you must protect and to improve their values in time.

There are a lot of possible reasons people may loose their online domains, some are very common, some are not so often related with every day practice.

You can lose visitors and customers because of typo domain names

As I've written some time ago on a websited related with web design, you should reserve different but similar domain names for your business. The reason is simple: when information is being transmited from one person to another there can always appear errors, people may mispell or type with errors the name of your site. If the domain name have digits or words separated by hyphens reserve a domain name similar: with the same words, but no hyphens and with the digits as letters.

It does not look that you are protecting the domain name in this way, but in order you have one famous domain with a great working website you must cover all the field, not to let anyone take advantage by your work and ideas.

You can lose your domain name if you delay to make or renew the registration

Some TLD allow you to register your domain name for life, so you don't have the problem with the renewal. But if you decide to register a name for you domain and you delay it too much some one else can do it first. The same thing can happen if your domain name expires and you delay the renewal. It does not cost much, but you have to protect you domains: no website, no business. No business, no money, no reputation.

A few years ago when high profile movies where annouced at Hollywood some people did hurry to registrate the domain names for those movies and they tried to sell them later to the production companies. But lately the production companies learned from their mistakes and started reserving the domain names before announcing the movies.

Use privacy when register or renew a domain name

The whois records can be accessed by everyone that knows where to search. When registering or renew a domain you have the option to let the information public (and everybody will see them) or private (and only you and the registrar will know about the domain owner identity). The difference in price is only a few american dollars (the privacy costs). If you let the information public every hacker or bad person can contact you or can try to impersonate you in order to take your domain.

If your domain is just a startup or not so important you may not care so much, but when you put a lot of energy and money in the development of your website you may be hurt.

Safeguard your domain name against theft

Also during the registrering or renewal you can have registrar lock activated. This will lock the domain name making it impossible to be stolen unless you log into your account and unlock it. It can happen that hackers can hijack an unprotected domain without the owner's knowledge, disrupting the website.

Protect the access to your registar with a strong password and ensure your full control over your domain name

The most direct way to hijack and misuse a domain name is to access the registar and modify the registration account. It's not easy as the registering domains are protected against attacks, but you consider your own protection against such things: use a strong password to protect the access to your registar. For that you can include numbers and special characters, lower and upper characters in the password.

In some cases (depending of the TLD), the registrant and the admin contact can make changes to the ownership information for a domain name. Under some circumstances the technical contact may also be able to make some changes to the information if the admin does not respond questioning a requested change.

I am sure you all want that your website would have a lot of traffic, you want to be known and wanted (or even admired) for what you are doing and what you are selling. A good or huge traffic is also good for business - even if you are not selling anything you can make good money from online advertisement.

I am not going to tell you some bulletproof methods to boost your traffic over night, but you can get that boost for short periods of time. I am telling you three things that work every time and in almost any situations (as long there is no problem with the website itself or the content):

  • what I've already told you about SEO is perfect for improving your traffic. That means that your webpage should be fully optimized for the search engines (with the metatags, title, h1 to h6 tags, URLs and everything else), it should have unique content and targeted to specific subjects, you should choose interesting and catchy titles, and so on.
  • you should post the URLs, their titles and a short description (if it is possible) to the highly visited places over the internet. Their traffic could improve your traffic once the visitors see your titles and consider them interesting to access.
  • never give up. The statistics say you will almost never get the desired results from the beginning. I steady high traffic for your website can be obtain only by hard work promoting that website as good as you can.

I must remind you that if you "overdo" the SEO (when you use black hats methods or you use too many elements of on-page SEO with few or no content) sooner or later you will be penalized or banned by the search engines.

The list of the highly visited places over the internet is very long, I'll try to give you some examples I know that have valid results. Social networks always works, but you already know that: you have opened at least few titles shared by your friends until now. You might not realize that their links were a way to improve the traffic, but it's true. So, use Twitter, use Facebook - they are well known, they have millions and millions of user logging in every day. Hi5 was a big hit some time ago, but lately it's not so important.

Aggregators like Tehnorati, Digg, Stumbleupon and Reddit are also great for boosting your traffic. Don't rush into getting too many backlinks over there, even if they are letting you (in some reasonable limits)... you might get penalized.

Write articles and post them on websites like GoArticles and EnzineArticles and backlinking them to your site will not boost your traffic at once, but they will get you some steady traffic in time.

As I said, don't give up. No matter how much time it will take you to get your desired traffic on your site you will get it. You can do it yourself or get help.

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.