Top 7 Tips You Must Know Before You Hire A Web Designer
By Patricia Espinoza
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Providers of web design abound online and off. With so many web design suppliers in town, the decision of which web designer to choose can be a daunting one. Fortunately for you, after reading this quick guide, you can ask your potential designer the right questions and feel confident that you are hiring the right person to build or revamp your website.
- Flush the flash intros and entirely flash-based websites!
True, flash animations can be beautiful to look at, they are edgy, trendy and in general plain cool. Unfortunately, the search engines like Google or Yahoo cannot see any of it. It is not even that they may take too long to load and the search engine's crawler doesn't want to wait and leaves, though this too is already a good reason not to have them. It is that crawlers cannot read the movement or action at all. Search engines read text, that's what they index in their catalogs, and that's what they will look up when you go into Google and type, for example "Web Design Company".
- Are the pages web optimized?
Statistics show that users will wait only 4 seconds to begin to see a page loading when they first visit a website; and only 20 seconds for the entire page to have downloaded in the screen. Any longer than that and they will hit the back button in the browser and leave, probably for good. Make sure your web designer knows about this and thus will balance your site with light weight graphics and text.
- Usability and Accessibility - Section 508 Accessibility Law
Research shows that users do not read websites, they skim them. Your visitors will look around feverishly for anything that is interesting or resembles what they're looking for. A good web designer knows this, so she places important information strategically throughout the website, makes good use of conventions (i.e. anything clickable should be underlined), designs a user-friendly website with intuitive navigation. This is designing with usability in mind. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, is a US law requiring the federal government to make all goods and services, including web sites fully accessible to people with disabilities. It identifies specific standards for Internet and Web accessibility. These guidelines encourage developers to make web sites accessible to desktop browsers, voice browsers (screen readers), mobile phone, and other software that aids the handicapped navigate the Internet.
- Coding with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in Mind
Besides the issue of search engine visibility (covered above), good web design incorporates competitive and relevant keywords (what the users are typing into the search engines as "Web Design Company" in example above) within the text of the page, and 'behind the scenes', tucked away in what's called the HTML Meta Tags, which are not usually visible to human eyes. The research and placement of the keywords are extremely important if you want your website to stand a chance before the search engines, and therefore, have your website make a positive impact in your business' bottom line!
- W3C Compliance
XHTML is a stricter and cleaner version of HTML recommended by W3C (World Wide Web Consortium). XHTML is the effective inheritor of HTML and although it is almost identical to its predecessor it is aimed to replace it. W3C will not continue to develop HTML, future W3C work will be focusing on XHTML only. In light of this information, it is very important that your web designer codes (programs) your web site with the latest of standards in the industry.
- Tableless CSS Markup
Web designers have traditionally relied heavily (or even exclusively) on the use of HTML tables to display their web designs on the Internet. However, tables present multiple issues on flexibility, interoperability, and most importantly accessibility. Tableless CSS markup is quickly becoming the standard in the web community, specially since it allows to separate content from the presentation (or design) of a website with enhanced control and flexibility; it demands less bandwidth usage; and it fully supports mobile and hand held devices. Since HTML table-based coding will sooner or later be phased out, it behooves you to check if your web designer will use the highly recommended tableless CSS markup when building your web site.
- Browser Compatibility
Since the Internet has continued to grow at an exponential rate, so have the Internet Browser brands, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape and Safari. While Internet Explorer remains the most popular, followed very closely by Firefox, there are well over a dozen different options out there that are being used by Internet visitors. Each of these browsers decodes the HTML, XHTML or CSS of your web site in slightly a different way. Sometimes the design will hardly be affected, yet other times the interpretation given to a particular piece of such code can drastically alter the overall design or composition of your site. Make sure your website will be compatible in at least the two most common browsers: Internet Explorer and Firefox.
Patricia Espinoza is co-owner of CPC Computer Consultants, an IT Consulting, Web Design, Ecommerce and Web Hosting company in Miami, Florida. Her mission is to help small businesses set up professional and profitable websites. Download a Free Guide on How to Design a Successful Website at http://www.cpccci.com today!
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Article Submitted On: August 27, 2008