Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Affordable Website Design - The Right Tool

(Part 2 in a five part series.)

by Dustin Schwerman

So you've done it. You found the perfect website designer offering you exactly what you need to get the website that you want. You have a wide range of options to choose from, and best of all, it will be an affordable website design that fits properly into your budget. You know where you will be getting your hosting, you've had your designers do a bit of initial keyword research and you've chosen your domain name. Now you have just one question left to ask.

What is this website supposed to do?

You have the creative freedom of an affordable website design created by an experienced team of skilled professionals. This lends you incredible power, providing the ability to do exactly what you want with your website. However, knowing what it is that you want to do is an important first step. Your website designer is probably willing to make basic changes, updates, and additions, and revise work that doesn't fit your grand design. It may well even mock up a few options to give you some ideas. In the end, though, the best use for a website of this type is to bring your own creative power to bear in creating the site, while your designers handle the technical work. In other words, don't expect your web builders to inspire you; it's your job to inspire them!

But that means knowing what you want your site to accomplish, and where are you supposed to learn the extent of the options you have available? You've never created a website, never read a page on xhtml, css, JavaScript, php, MySQL, or AJAX. If you're like most business owners, you wouldn't know a doctype if you bumped into one in a crowded div (and the fact that you're looking for the doctype in a div only proves it). So how are you supposed to know that there are superglobal arrays that can pass information between pages when you've never even met a global or local array and actually the only variable you've ever encountered was a mean-spirited little i back in high-school algebra who not only ruined your opportunity to write "no solution" and call it a night but who your teacher always told you was imaginary anyway? But then you come into the world of web design and your old foe i is running the show telling a bunch of for loops what to do, and suddenly Mr. Imaginary can let you cycle through an entire array with only a few lines of code. And you've still never met an array! So how exactly are you supposed to figure out what your website is going to be able to do? It's like you need a highly trained professional just to learn where all your limits are, and where is someone supposed to find one of those?

And two plus two, as it did back in high school algebra, makes four.

So you draft an email or pick up the phone, and start asking your website developer what kind of stuff you'll be able to do with this website of yours. You start talking about a Flash intro animation and you start hearing about Internet user impatience and SEO problems, but when the conversation turns to shopping carts your designer just wants to know how detailed a system you'll want. Animations? Sure, as long as they don't distract people. What kind of things can you do with images? Oh, where to begin. Maybe you'll even start getting into sessions and databases and their application for forums and chat rooms. Ever want to have your own personal chat room on your website? Think your clients would like one? Maybe you should have your developer create a feedback form and ask them.

The point I'm trying to make here is that when you have the creative freedom to craft the website you want for a reasonable price, you have a plethora of options available to you. Now, they may not all be in your budget, and they may not all be ideal additions to your site. But that's okay, because you have an experienced professional who is an email or a phone call away who can fill you in on standards and repercussions, letting you know what is and isn't possible and of those things that are, what the limitations of including them will be. So even if you don't have any for loops and i has to stay stranded in your imagination, there's plenty of things that you can do with a creative vision and a skilled technician, and whatever you will be creating, an affordable website design is always the right tool.

About the Author

Dustin Schwerman is the head web designer for Truly Unique - Small Business Website Design. Truly Unique works on sites of all varieties, from office supplies to hydronic cooling and heating.