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Find Web Developers

What Can a Web Design Company Do For You?

August 8th, 2018

Whether you intend to create a new web initiative, or you’re trying to better your existing web presence, a web design company offers you a complete range of web development services for your webdesign needs.

If you’re looking for simple website development, or if you want to build an entire online e-commerce, a web design company has all of the services and tools that you need to start from scratch, or to integrate new elements into your organization’s existing architecture.

The services offered by a quality web design company will be diverse, yet still specialized. Professional website design should be flexible enough to meet your unique needs, but have enough experience to do the job correctly, and make suggestions to properly tailor your webdesign to your desired outcome.

Examples of services that you should look for in a superior web design company should include:

o Website development – not only a full webdesign, but fully integrated online applications should also be available. From the most basic informational sites to the most complicated flow-based applications, a good web design company should provide the proper scalability required for adjusting your website development with today’s unpredictable marketplace.

o Database development and integration – website development isn’t just a matter of posting individual pages. A scalable, structured database needs to be worked into the webdesign for rich backend engines.

o E-business and shopping cart applications – if your website is selling anything, then you’ll need a professional web site design that includes what you need among B2B, B2C, and procurement applications.

o Branding and Advertising – any quality web design company knows that website development involves more than just stating the obvious. The website is vital for making the desired impression among visitors so that they will be encouraged to act on your message, and to return whenever they need your products and/or services.

o Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – any professional web site design should include a strategy that has been proven to achieve high ranking among the top search engines. SEO is vital to attaining the highest number of visitors.

o Site statistics – you can’t just assume that your site or any of your advertising efforts are doing well. You need to be able to monitor and measure them. Therefore, a good web design company will also offer you the tools you need to receive critical statistics about your site overall, its tracked pages, the total visitors per page, the top refer URLs, as well as the total visitors per day, time of day, and the keywords that were used in search engines to find your site.

o System Management Services – web development should offer a full range of system support services that include support for applications, servers, and networks, and should allow for fine-tuning of performance configurations.

A web design company understands that the internet is currently among the most effective marketing tools available. If you don’t have an online presence, you aren’t reaching your full potential or connecting with a large percentage of your prospective client base. Instead of having the attitude of building a web site, a good webdesign business should know how to effectively work your vision into a virtual representation of your organization. As though simply by viewing your website, a visitor should feel as though they’ve had a good discussion with one of your trained representatives.

Most importantly, a truly great web design company will listen to exactly what you want, will ask good questions, and will deliver a solid professional web site design in precisely the way that you want it done. You need to know that they care about what you want to say and about what your clients need.

Home Web Hosting – Is It a Good Idea?

August 7th, 2018

Introduction

Many times people ask me help on how to setup home web hosting, I always ask them first what they really want to do with the server, because that may be either a good or bad idea.

Some people want them for web developing and testing, what is a good idea, but only if you are developing from more than one computer or it’s actually a team developing, if that’s the case, the server can even host a SVN (subversion) or any other software versioning / revision control system, something that is very important but few people keep it in mind.

On the other hand, most people actually want to start a web hosting company from home, and this is an entirely different subject and most don’t even know how deep it really goes, and it turns out to be a bad idea, here is why.

Electrical costs

Electricity costs is something almost no one keeps in mind… Web hosting devours electricity. Of course there are green and low power servers, but they don’t perform that well, either a CPU (Central Processing Unit) has lots of performance and consumes lots of energy, or it does consume very little power but it’s performance is far from what’s needed. Actually, the electrical costs from a low power server are still more expensive than a shared web hosting plan on almost any web hosting company. Just this fact alone, when taken in account, makes most people give up from the idea.

Hardware costs

Almost everyone that I meet that wanted to start a home web server came with the idea of using their old desktop computer (or even laptop!) as a server… that is just a terrible idea! It is even more terrifying that very few really understand that it can go so very wrong.

Servers are not built from the same material as your Personal Computer, they are not expensive simply because companies are greedy (well… sometimes it’s true that some server prices are exaggerated!), they are expensive because they are made with hardware with better build quality and better components that actually gives a higher MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures). When you buy a server (at least a good one) you will see in the sheet the MTBF being referenced, something that you don’t see in Personal Computers, because they are not built with that in mind. It is true that top gaming hardware sometimes uses components that are also used in servers, still they are not made with that in mind and they are still expensive also.

In servers you need them to have a hardware enterprise level RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) or equivalent, you need to make everything redundant in the server, actually, you need to apply redundancy to the server itself and end up with two servers configured in a way that if one fails, the other will take control and continue to provide a seamless (or almost seamless) experience to the guests that are using its services, or some other equivalent infrastructure.

Servers are also built with expansibility in mind, it is normal to find used, 4-5 year old servers, built to handle up to 192GB of ram, when most desktops could only handle up to 8GB of ram. There are more technical differences between desktop class and server class, but this is enough for anyone to get the idea that they are different worlds.

The bill isn’t over yet, you also need a good router (your typical domestic router or modem can’t handle as many connections as an industrial one), firewall (hardware level firewalls), switches (industry grade network switch), UPS (Uninterruptible power supply) and a generator (in case of a power failure for more than a few minutes). The UPS and generator need to be connected with your router/modem, switches and servers (it isn’t very helpful to have electricity going to an offline server because someone forgot that to have an active internet connection they need to keep energy flowing to the router also!).

Internet Speed and Cost

Downstream VS Upstream

So you have an excellent internet connection, you can’t avoid that smile in your face when downloading something big in a few minutes with that 100MBPS+ internet connection, so you have a perfect connection to start your home web hosting business right? Guess what? Wrong! Domestic internet connections, even small and medium office internet connections are in no way close to what a web server needs.

While for home use internet connections keep the downstream in mind (the “download” speed) they are advertised in most cases without mentioning the upstream (the “upload” speed) and it is usually very low. For web hosting, the upstream is the most important because you have to quickly send data to all those “domestic” high speed connection users that are sending requests to your home web server. With a low upstream connection, sometimes a dozen of guests accessing to a web page on your home web server is enough for a natural DoS (Denial of Service) since the server won’t be able to send more data to the guests because the upstream is already full, like traffic in rush hour.

Domestic ISPs problems

You need also to check the ToS (Terms of Service) of your ISP (Internet Service Provider) since most of them don’t let you run home web servers, some even block incoming connections to port 80 (the default HTTP port) that you really need for web hosting.

Also, almost all domestic ISPs give you a dynamic IP, which is very bad business when you want to run a home web server. You don’t want to daily update the IP on the domain names, right? There are “tricks” to actually update them automatically and point “cname” to them, still, it isn’t perfect and neither Google neither your customers will like it.

Congestion ratio

Congestion is something that also almost no one remembers… Most internet connections have a congestion ratio of 20:1 or 50:1… what does that mean? To put it simply, imagine it as the number of persons that are actually using your connection, so if you have a 50:1 congestion ratio on your 100MBPS connection, it means that in “rush hour”, when it hits the peak of users connected to it and pushing it to the maximum, you will end up at best with a 2MBPS connection. Yes, the internet connection that you may had think it was only yours it is actually being shared by 20… 50 persons, and if all of them push it to the limit, you’ll have to share what is left of it. Turning of the WIFI will not affect in anything, this is controlled by your ISP in order to keep the prices of the backbone connections down.

Internet connections used by web hosting companies are 1:1, which means that are dedicated to them, they are usually build from the closest ISP backbone all the way to the company, they are very expensive either on setup or maintenance.

Conclusion

Home web hosting is not a great idea, here I just scratched the surface of the problems of why it is actually a bad idea. The investment needed for such a thing is huge! There’s why datacenters are built and rent to companies, only big companies have their own datacenters.

If you really want to enter the web hosting business, there are ways of doing it cost effectively, but be advised they require a good amount of investment and there are so many web hosting companies out there that is very hard to have a slice of the market.

Custom Web Site Design Strategies

August 5th, 2018

Web site design has certainly, in the past decade, evolved tremendously. More clients now are demanding custom design, as opposed to the ‘cookie cutter’ sites of yesteryear.

Where once there existed a limit as to the types of fonts used, the types of coding languages used, and the styles themselves, there is now the possibility for more variety in Web site design than ever before. This has come about because of the advances in technology that did not exist even a few years ago, and it has opened up many creative avenues for Web site designers in the creation of custom designs.

Web development overall, has to be more competitive, and take into consideration the needs of clients now, when literally billions of Web sites compete for attention online on a daily basis. A Web site is the first impression the owner of an E-commerce business makes on their own potential clients, and the competition factor, has now led to the burgeoning of more creative designs and implementations to deal with this competition factor.

Web development now needs to speak to the needs not only of the clients that are building the Web site, but the needs of the visitors who are, overall “potential prospects’ of the Web site owners.

E-commerce needs have created some rather unique approaches to Web development, from the most beautiful to the most garish, unfortunately. In an attempt to have their own E-commerce sites ‘noticed’, some business owners have become too individualistic, and there does abound many sites that are not easily navigable, nor especially pleasing to the eye. A Web designer needs to use good judgment when making choices about how much is ‘too much’ individuality.

Web site designers can avoid the pitfalls of becoming overly creative, and yet do much now to make a client’s site, very appealing and eye-catching by keeping a few simple rules in mind:

A. Are the colors pleasing to most visitors, without being garish and hard to view?

B. Are the fonts easily read by most visitors, which means not too large (too much scrolling), or too small, (too much squinting)?

C. Is the navigation and usability of the site what it can be? Can visitors find features easily?

D. Is the site clean and uncluttered? It should never look like your grandmother’s attic, where thirty years of junk abounds in every corner!

At the same time, the E-commerce functionality can be maintained with advanced creativity, as navigability and usability can be implemented flawlessly also. The new advances in technology now have led to the following changes that increase the ability to improve creativity:

1. A staggering number of font sizes that can be flawlessly implemented to distinguish a site. Up until just a few years ago, Web masters were limited in the choice of fonts, and font sizes. Times New Roman and Arial were the two standard fonts used, as some browsers could not effectively display other fonts with any reliability, changing fonts that were not Times New Roman and Arial into the Sans Serif, which is not all that attractive. This was a big deterrent to the creative use of fonts. With new embedding technologies, this is no longer a real problem, and many designers are now using great new fonts that make a site ‘stand out’ effortlessly.

2. Original layouts can be more easily implemented due to the emergence of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) technology. Prior to CSS, it took much work (and therefore much money) to create designs with ‘punch’ as every design demanded hours upon hours of work with HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), the old standard for writing and creating custom designs. CSS has freed Web designers from these restrictions, and of course, saves clients a great deal of money spent on man hours, leading more clients to demand great looking custom designs.

3. Navigation and usability have also increased, once the restrictions were lifted from the creation and development of custom sites. Oddly enough, for some reason, many years ago, it was thought ‘common knowledge’ that all sites should contain a left-hand navigation bar, and nothing else. This was the old standard that designers had used for decades and no one thought to question this practice. This gave rise to sites that were for the most part ‘cookie cutter’ varieties, each having the same standard layout and left-hand navigation bar layout. Creative use of right-hand navigation bars and other techniques have created sites that are very much different in layout and navigation than the old standards, and this has not proven to be a detriment for most E-commerce businesses. In fact, uniqueness seems to be more memorable, and may indeed be a competitive edge in itself.

4. The emergence of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML technologies has opened up a whole new world of creative fonts, creative color schemes, and creative layouts. With WYSIWYG, designers can see exactly how a site will appear all through the process, eliminating much of the time consuming trial and error that preceded this. Even novice designers and those that seek to create their own site can benefit from WYSIWYG, as most Web site creation software and online sites used for Web site design incorporates this technology, which is easy to use for almost anyone and requires no coding language knowledge.

5. Better flash techniques have also been discovered and employed in the past several years, leading to greater effectiveness of flash sites, and faster upload speeds (a problem with flash prior to the technological advances was slow loading). Sites that employ flash now have a more professional look and feel to them, and flash is used often now in the construction of online videos and games that appear on sites and educates and entertains visitors.

The past decade in technology has indeed lent itself to the emergence of superior creativity in Web site design and Web development by Web masters. Gone are the old days of stagnantly designed sites, the ‘same old, same old’ fonts, dull colors, and slow-loading and ineffective flash. It seems now, that the sky is the limit with customization of sites, and this can only be called one of the best developments of this century. Beautiful sites, that will hopefully bring beautiful results to personal and E-commerce clients, are now standard, and the future looks brighter than ever for Web site designers and developers!

Copyright 2005 Nathan Sire