Selecting a Web Designer for a Basic Site
A static site is a website that does not utilize any form of scripting. Static implies that each page must be made and uploaded to the server separately. A few “template” pages create a dynamic website, and the website’s programming generates the rest of the content and links. A good illustration of a dynamic website is an online shopping cart. The layout is consistent across all merchandise pages, but the featured items in the featured content areas will vary. When a user selects a product from a database or an XML file, the information is loaded into the sites they view.
A static website is inefficient if you need to sell more than a handful of goods or offer them for online purchase. While researching the best software for your online catalog is essential, new website owners should get their feet wet with a simple site that showcases a handful of goods.
Application for an Unchanging Webpage
Depending on the tools you use to create your site, ongoing maintenance could be a breeze or a nightmare. Two websites I worked on were developed in the Microsoft.NET framework, and both were designed to prevent site owners from making any changes without contacting the original developer. A different system would have allowed the site owner to assume responsibility for some upkeep in both instances. A coder once made the most sloppy backend interface I’ve ever seen.
Which comes first: picking the software your developer employs or choosing the software first and then hunting down a developer who knows their way around it? If you think about the consequences of your choice, you can’t go wrong either way. If you discover a capable developer who will be around for a while, you might want to buy the system he employs. However, if the developer turns out to be unreliable or unable to assist, you could be left with a complex system.
If your business has an IT department staffed by full-time programmers, then Microsoft.NET is the way to go. The framework enables the rapid integration of new functionalities into an existing website. When a developer is “quick,” it usually means they don’t know much about computing and can drop and paste bits of code into the pages. Starting with a static webpage eliminates the need for.NET. Do not employ a developer who builds in.NET unless you intend to purchase and learn to use.NET yourself.
FrontPage is an outdated platform that Microsoft no longer maintains. Many people are familiar with using FrontPage to whip up basic websites but may not have any training in basic web design or structure. FrontPage was the most cost-effective website creation utility for a long time. FrontPage is a dead giveaway that a coder hasn’t kept up with the times since at least the turn of the millennium. Do not employ a programmer who claims to be proficient in only FrontPage.
For a very long time, Dreamweaver has been considered the “industry standard” for web design software. Dreamweaver is a versatile program that can be used to create basic or dynamic websites. You can “grow” your website with the software as you transition from a simple, static site to a more complex, coded one. Even the aforementioned.NET muddle was cleaned up with the help of Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver, however, has a steep learning curve and can be prohibitively expensive for many start-ups.
Dreamweaver’s in-built template system streamlines website creation and upkeep by automatically updating all of your pages when you change the template. Dreamweaver includes premade, minimalistic website designs. Although the final pages can be viewed in any web browser, the template method is exclusive to Adobe Dreamweaver.
Dreamweaver users are more likely to have a firm grasp on website layout than their counterparts who work exclusively with online templates,.NET, or FrontPage. Just because a developer employs Dreamweaver doesn’t mean you should automatically trust the quality of their work.
The popularity of the Joomla web-building framework continues to rise. Technically speaking, it is a Content Management System (CMS) because after a design is created, material can be added via online forms rather than by hand. When most Joomla site proprietors want to rearrange content, they must return to their developers. Widgets, nifty little pieces of code, are included with Joomla and have schedules.
This is by no means an exhaustive collection. There are many alternative methods, and more will be developed. Find out from your company contacts who have websites what kind of software was used to create them and how adaptable it is.
Picking Your Programmer
A web designer with knowledge of HTML and CSS is all that’s required to create a simple, inactive website. While familiarity with web design software is helpful, it is not the same as comprehending how a website functions. Even though he may feel most at home with the systems he has already worked with, a competent developer will be able to learn and use new software. Instead of hiring someone who knows their way around a specific piece of software but doesn’t have a solid grasp of websites in general, it’s better to put that person in charge of your chosen software. Many poorly constructed sites by someone who knew only the technical side of things fell to me to fix. A common explanation is that they “took a class” on using the program rather than learning fundamental web design concepts. Worse, many courses are offered at the college and university levels.
Get a second opinion on the developer’s work when they show you samples of their previous work (only accept pieces presently online). Find out from the second opinion giver how the “back-end” will impact your job in maintaining the site. Remember that the developer and the software you choose will have long-term effects on your company.
Nora McDougall-Collins penned this piece as an online design reference for the National Network of Forest Practitioners.