Friday, March 19, 2010

Would you name your baby Jy9hx?

Many of us involved in the web presence industry are challenged to create good domain names that are fit to cover all the issues of a good name and the added challenge of finding a .com available. We, at Image Factory ( ) named most of our clients' web sites, and we face this challenge on a daily basis. I am not a big fan of gibberish domain names, but many of our clients insist for a short domain name and the availability pool narrows by the second even for nonsense "words".
When searching for a new domain name, what criteria has proven best for you?
a) easy to market?
b) easy to remember?
c) search engine friendly?
d) branding-ready resonance?
e) most illustrative for the business?

How do you create a domain name?
1) A domain name identical or as close as possible to the name of the business the web site would represent?
2) Just the initials of the business, if available?
3) A domain name as short as possible, even if the only available short domain name would be a random mix of letters and/or numbers without a meaning?
4) A rhyming, jingle-like domain name, that would be easy to remember even if it is many letters long?
5) An invented, non existing word that resembles a meaning related to the business the web site represents?
6) A scrabble-like playful or humorous anagram?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

9 Client-Satisfaction Tips

  1. Be consistent with good ideas. Customers will learn they can rely on you to solve their problems.
  2. Do your homework. Research every aspect of a company, its philosophy and the problem it wants to solve, to provide a dead-on solution.
  3. Look at a problem from all sides. Sometimes the best solution is found when coming at a problem from an unusual angle.
  4. Listen. Show your clients that you think they know what's best for them.
  5. Communicate well. Develop open, frequent communication, and be receptive to criticism or worries from customers.
  6. Be honest. If something isn't working, it's best to address it right away. Clients will appreciate the straightforward approach.
  7. Build mutual trust and respect. Once you've grown to understand each other and trust the quality of results, you can rely on each other's instincts and trust each other's judgment.
  8. Bend over backwards. Customers will respect and be grateful to you when they see you working hard for their products.
  9. Maintain high standards. Every project is worth 100% of your effort. Don't let quality suffer, no matter how busy you become.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The basic principles of web design

Web design

A Web site is a collection of information about a particular topic or subject. Designing a website is defined as the arrangement and creation of Web pages that in turn make up a website. A Web page consists of information for which the Web site is developed. A website might be compared to a book, where each page of the book is a web page.
There are many aspects (design concerns) in this process, and due to the rapid development of the Internet, new aspects may emerge. For typical commercial Web sites, the basic aspects are:

* The site design is defined by the topic and content.

* The content, substance, and information on the site should be relevant to the site and should target the area of the public that the website is concerned with.

* The site should be user-friendly, with the interface and navigation simple and reliable. If the site is large enough and contains enough information, a site browser may be needed so that information can be found quickly, without using the navigation tools.

* The appearance should include a single style that flows throughout, to show consistency. The style should be professional, look good and most of all be relevant to the users and site content.

* The visibility of the site’s text and information should be paramount as that is what the users are visiting for.

* The site must also be easy to find on the internet and if possible should be listed on most, if not all, major search engines.

A Web site typically consists of text and images. The first page of a website is known as the Home page or Index. Some websites use what is commonly called a Splash Page. Splash pages might include a welcome message, language/region selection, or disclaimer. Each web page within a Web site is an HTML file which has its own URL. After each Web page is created, they are typically linked together using a navigation menu composed of hyperlinks. Faster browsing speeds have led to shorter attention spans and more demanding online visitors and this has resulted in less use of Splash Pages, particularly where commercial websites are concerned.
Once a Web site is completed, it must be published or uploaded in order to be viewable to the public over the internet. This is done using an FTP client. Once published, the Web master may use a variety of techniques to increase the traffic, or hits, that the website receives. This may include submitting the Web site to a search engine such as Google or Yahoo, exchanging links with other Web sites, creating affiliations with similar Web sites, etc.
A relatively new technique for creating websites called Remote Scripting has allowed more dynamic use of the web without the use of Flash or other specialized plug-ins. Leading the various techniques is Ajax, although other methods are still common, as Ajax is not a fully developed standard. It is however gaining widespread popularity because of the ease involved in creating websites. Ajax, essentially is a method of making Javascript work. The explosion of the Open Source online community has seen the development of Javascript-led Open Source web design programmes such as Mambo and Joomla and the rise of Ajax-based programmes such as Ruby. Both Mambo and Joomla and Ruby are advanced Content Management Systems (CMS) which enable the creation of dynamic Web sites without the need to know code.

Website Planning

Before creating and uploading a website, it is important to take the time to plan exactly what is needed in the website. Thoroughly considering the audience or target market, as well as defining the purpose and deciding what content will be developed are extremely important.


It is essential to define the purpose of the website as one of the first steps in the planning process. A purpose statement should show focus based on what the website will accomplish and what the users will get from it. A clearly defined purpose will help the rest of the planning process as the audience is identified and the content of the site is developed. Setting short and long term goals for the website will help make the purpose clear and plan for the future when expansion, modification, and improvement will take place. Also, goal-setting practices and measurable objectives should be identified to track the progress of the site and determine success.


Defining the audience is a key step in the website planning process. The audience is the group of people who are expected to visit your website – the market being targeted. These people will be viewing the website for a specific reason and it is important to know exactly what they are looking for when they visit the site. A clearly defined purpose or goal of the site as well as an understanding of what visitors want to do/feel when they come to your site will help to identify the target audience. Upon considering who is most likely to need/use the content, a list of characteristics common to the users such as:

* Audience Characteristics
* Information Preferences
* Computer Specifications
* Web Experience

Taking into account the characteristics of the audience will allow an effective website to be created that will deliver the desired content to the target audience.


Content evaluation and organization requires that the purpose of the website be clearly defined. Collecting a list of the necessary content then organizing it according to the audience’s needs is a key step in website planning. In the process of gathering the content being offered, any items that do not support the defined purpose or accomplish target audience objectives should be removed. It is a good idea to test the content and purpose on a focus group and compare the offerings to the audience needs. The next step is to organize the basic information structure by categorizing the content and organizing it according to user needs. Each category should be named with a concise and descriptive title that will become a link on the website. Planning for the site’s content ensures that the wants/needs of the target audience and the purpose of the site will be fulfilled.

Compatibility and restrictions

Because of the market share of modern browsers (depending on your target market), the compatibility of your website with the viewers is restricted. For instance, a website that is designed for the majority of websurfers will be limited to the use of valid XHTML 1.0 Strict or older, Cascading Style Sheets Level 1, and 1024×768 display resolution. This is because Internet Explorer is not fully W3C standards compliant with the modularity of XHTML 1.1 and the majority of CSS beyond 1. A target market of more alternative browser (e.g. Firefox and Opera) users allow for more W3C compliance and thus a greater range of options for a web designer.

Another restriction on web page design is the use of different image file formats. The majority of users can support GIF, JPEG, and PNG (with restrictions). Again Internet Explorer is the major restriction here, not fully supporting PNG’s advanced transparency features, resulting in the GIF format still being the most widely used graphic file format for transparent images.

Many website incompatibilities go unnoticed by the designer and unreported by the users. The only way to be certain a website will work on a particular platform is to test it on that platform.

Planning documentation

Documentation is used to visually plan the site while taking into account the purpose, audience and content, to design the site structure, content and interactions that are most suitable for the website. Documentation may be considered a prototype for the website – a model which allows the website layout to be reviewed, resulting in suggested changes, improvements and/or enhancements. This review process increases the likelihood of success of the website.

First, the content is categorized and the information structure is formulated. The information structure is used to develop a document or visual diagram called a site map. This creates a visual of how the web pages will be interconnected, which helps in deciding what content will be placed on what pages. There are three main ways of diagramming the website structure:

* Linear Website Diagrams will allow the users to move in a predetermined sequence;
* Hierarchical structures (of Tree Design Website Diagrams) provide more than one path for users to take to their destination;
* Branch Design Website Diagrams allow for many interconnections between web pages such as hyperlinks within sentences.

In addition to planning the structure, the layout and interface of individual pages may be planned using a storyboard. In the process of storyboarding, a record is made of the description, purpose and title of each page in the site, and they are linked together according to the most effective and logical diagram type. Depending on the number of pages required for the website, documentation methods may include using pieces of paper and drawing lines to connect them, or creating the storyboard using computer software.

Some or all of the individual pages may be designed in greater detail as a website wireframe, a mock up model or comprehensive layout of what the page will actually look like. This is often done in a graphic program, or layout design program. The wireframe has no working functionality, only planning.

Accessible Web design

Accessible Web design is the art of creating webpages that are accessible to everyone, using any device. It is especially important so that people with disabilities - whether due to accident, disease or old age - can access the information in Web pages and be able to navigate through the website.

To be accessible, web pages and sites must conform to certain accessibility principles. These can be grouped into the following main areas:

* use semantic markup that provides a meaningful structure to the document (i.e. Web page)
* Semantic markup also refers to semantically organizing the web page struchure and publishing web services description accordingly so that they can be recognised by other web services on different web pages. Standards for semantic web are set by IEEE
* use a valid markup language that conforms to a published DTD or Schema
* provide text equivalents for any non-text components (e.g. images, multimedia)
* use hyperlinks that makes sense when read out of context. (e.g. avoid “Click Here.”)
* don’t use frames
* use CSS rather than HTML Tables for layout.
* author the page so that when the source code is read line-by-line by user agents (such as a screen readers) it remains intelligible. (Using tables for design will often result in information that is not.)

However, W3C permits an exception where tables for layout either make sense when linearized or an alternate version (perhaps linearized) is made available.