Web Designs Your Visitors Will Fall For

Today’s world of business lives and breathes online. Startups especially, have gone from just a garage workspace to opening up their trendy offices, with unique work policies that attracts talent waiting to work for them. Equally trendy are their websites that flavor brand uniqueness and puts them apart from their competition. But, how do we get to know such websites exist in the first place? Well, it is the search engine that delivers us these fantastic looking sites, based on the services that we are looking for. How, do you ask? SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of course is the answer. Wait! What is SEO?

SEO is the key to every startup and existing brand’s gateway to attracting prospective clients through the web. The more relevant keywords used in the website content for the services that we are searching for, the more the chances are that you get to see that website on the top of your search results. SEO is indeed an ever evolving process and not your regular, do it and forget job. Every website loses ranking by the day if the latest keyword searches are not integrated in to the website, especially with high competition brewing every day. So to summarise, website designing apart, content on the website is the backbone to SEO. So if your regular website needs uplift, you need to find your business website, a website design company that specializes in SEO services.

Website design companies are plenty, but rarely would you find web development companies that actually specialize in SEO services that put your website on the top. Web development encompasses a whole range of services that makes a site look fantastic and unique. If a website development company can provide the following web services dedicatedly, then rest assured, your website will have a solid marketing base on the web:
1. Website design services (designing the look of your website’s UI, keeping the brand in mind)
2. Website content (creative content or technical content mixed with SEO keywords frequently updated)
3. SEO services (integrating SEO keywords to the content and the backend of web development and constantly updating the same)
4. Web development (custom web development, website maintenance, bug fixes, adding more features & practically replicating the website UI)
A website development or a website design company not only stops at the four basic services given above, but also give a plethora of other services that make a difference to your business outlook:

a. eCommerce Solutions is among the one such service provided by website companies that specialise in giving startup or existing eCommerce businesses a combo of the above mentioned services, plus the payment gateway option where consumers can complete online transactions with the highest security protocols ensuring data safety and a worry free purchase.

b. Did you know that be it any website, you could actually alter your marketing strategies just by knowing the site’s traffic? Wondering how a website has traffic? The number of visitors to your website is what we mean by traffic. This means being able to analyze the geographical locations, from where the traffic is highest, driving marketing to those areas, customers who transact frequently and giving them more offers, collecting consumer data and analyzing the target market in terms of age and gender, and even knowing what buying trends the consumers are into so that you can alter procurement to maximize business and profits.

c. Storage is another concern for many sites that are taking the eCommerce route. But thanks to technology, cloud storage is now a blessing as eCommerce solutions include unlimited data storage virtually at very less costs as against physical data storage in servers dedicated to the website.

d. Social Networking integration has proved as a huge advantage for websites looking at core organic marketing on the web. With many social networking sites store client databases for you, your work is cutout with no need for your own consumer database. So data analysis is now faster and more effective, giving you the business advantage.

e. Custom web development is something we briefly mentioned in the list of basic services. But how much website customization can actually happen? Being able to integrate web specific software to your website that is required for your business is the extent to which customization can happen.

E.g. want to create a photography website where photographers can upload their albums and create a personal album on your site? No problem. The web development team can integrate products that will make editing photos, adding it to pre-designed album options, and also being able to turn pages like you turn a book, like a cakewalk, even though it isn’t one.

Or want to create a website where musicians and singers can record their performances online and edit it as well to make an online album? Easy! The web development team can take care of this by adding the needed web kit for music recording online so that it can intelligently scan for instruments connected to the PC/Laptop, enable various/multiple channel recording and complete audio editing features that will enable help the artist create digital albums instantly.

Whatever your online business maybe, choosing the right website design company is the most important. Be sure that you choose a website design company that absolutely supports SEO integration and maintains the website, redesigning the site, fixing bugs and keep the website always on the top of the search results. Else, you are sure to miss out at the opportunity to make your brand the best.

Tourism, Web-Development, and SEO: A Match Made in Heaven

In 2004, 33 million US and Canadian Leisure Travel Hotel and Hospitality consumers bought, booked, or found their trip online for a total of 65 billion $ in travel revenues through the Internet. This represents a full 59% of the total $120 billion Leisure Travel market. (These numbers are not exaggerations: the source for these numbers is online research leader Forrester Research.)

About 65% of all travelers did at least some of their travel planning online. For example, the ‘young adult’ age group (19-25 yrs) spent $2.5 billion on on-line video gaming, yet that same age group spent a truly astounding $25 billion on on-line travel. The reason for the huge number of people researching their trips online is simple: online travel planning makes sense.

Online travel planners are wealthy consumers who like to travel. They travel more frequently, and they spend more than the average consumer. Average spending is $3,400 per trip and on average they do this 4.9 times per year. Even better – these travel planners that find you online are inclined to be NEW customers who would not have found you otherwise.
These customers are looking for you, but based on our research, they are not finding you. A full 98% of web users use search engines (iprospect.com), and 65% of North Americans use search engines to come to a purchasing decision (Enquiro.com).

Most people are drawn to regular search engine results rather than to paid placements (Enquiro.com) which is why search engine optimization is the best form of search marketing. Consider how you use searches and you will know that the value of showing up on the top of Google’s first pages when someone looks for a hotel, resort, or other facility in your region is huge.

Forecasts show that the Strongest Online Sales Growth areas for the Leisure Travel industry include the following:

1. Hotels (1/3 of all leisure/travel dollars spent online!)

2. Vacation Package Sales

3. Resort and Convention sales

These revenues are there for the taking: showing up on top of searches in your area is the way to capture them. But you need to show up on top because 70% “rarely or never” look past the first results page, and 91% of users modify their search criteria if the first 3 results don’t meet their needs (iProspect.com).

What does it cost to bring in these visitors? The cost of a strong search marketing campaign will surprise you. It can be as little as $1,500-$2,500 for a campaign that will bring in literally hundreds of new guests. Search optimization is simply the most cost effective way to reach a wide audience. Consider how much money is spent on traditional advertising (which often produce questionable results) and compare the results. Shifting some of this purchasing to the Internet will bring a much larger return.

Critical Success Factors: based on consumer stages:

1. The ability for customers to find a website.

2. The ability for customers to find information/functionality within a website.

3. The content offered by a website.

4. The functionality offered by a website.

5. The overall look and feel of a website.

6. The ability for a customer to join into a relationship with a website.

A focused combination of efforts that will produce positive results:

1. Content.

2. Links from other websites.

3. Paid placements.

4. Website submissions.

5. Titles and metatags.

It takes time and a consistent effort to achieve good results. As with anything truly worthwhile, there are no quick fixes, no magic bullets.

Web Site Development Process – The Life-cycle Steps

A system development process can follow a number of standard or company specific frameworks, methodologies, modeling tools and languages. Software development life cycle normally comes with some standards which can fulfill the needs of any development team. Like software, web sites can also be developed with certain methods with some changes and additions with the existing software development process. Let us see the steps involve in any web site development.

1. Analysis:

Once a customer is started discussing his requirements, the team gets into it, towards the preliminary requirement analysis. As the web site is going to be a part of a system, It needs a complete analysis as, how the web site or the web based application is going to help the present system and how the site is going to help the business. Moreover the analysis should cover all the aspects especially on how the web site is going to join the existing system. The first important thing is finding the targeted audience. Then, All the present hardware, software, people and data should be considered during the time of analysis. For example, if a company XYZ corp is in need of a web site to have its human resource details online, the analysis team may try to utilize the existing data about the employees from the present database. The analysis should be done in the way, that it may not be too time consuming or with very less informative. The team should be able to come up with the complete cost-benefit analysis and as the plan for the project will be an output of analysis, it should be realistic. To achieve this the analyst should consult the designers, developers and testers to come up with a realistic plan.

Input: Interviews with the clients, Mails and supporting docs by the client, Discussions Notes, Online chat, recorded telephone conversations,Model sites/applications etc.,

Output: 1. Work plan, 2. Cost involved, 3. Team requirements, 4. Hardware-software requirements, 5. Supporting documents and 6. the approval

2. Specification Building:

Preliminary specifications are drawn up by covering up each and every element of the requirement. For example if the product is a web site then the modules of the site including general layout, site navigation and dynamic parts of the site should be included in the spec. Larger projects will require further levels of consultation to assess additional business and technical requirements. After reviewing and approving the preliminary document, a written proposal is prepared, outlining the scope of the project including responsibilities, timelines and costs.

Input: Reports from the analysis team

Output: Complete requirement specifications to the individuals and the customer/customer’s representative

3. Design and development:

After building the specification, work on the web site is scheduled upon receipt of the signed proposal, a deposit, and any written content materials and graphics you wish to include. Here normally the layouts and navigation will be designed as a prototype.

Some customers may be interested only in a full functional prototype. In this case we may need to show them the interactivity of the application or site. But in most of the cases customer may be interested in viewing two or three design with all images and navigation.

There can be a lot of suggestions and changes from the customer side, and all the changes should be freezed before moving into the next phase. The revisions could be redisplayed via the web for the customer to view.

As needed, customer comments, feedback and approvals can be communicated by e-mail, fax and telephone.

Throughout the design phase the team should develop test plans and procedures for quality assurance. It is necessary to obtain client approval on design and project plans.

In parallel the Database team will sit and understand the requirements and develop the database with all the data structures and sample data will also be prepared.

Input: Requirement specification

Output: Site design with templates, Images and prototype

4. Content writing:

This phase is necessary mainly for the web sites. There are professional content developers who can write industry specific and relevant content for the site. Content writers to add their text can utilize the design templates. The grammatical and spelling check should be over in this phase.

Input: Designed template

Output: Site with formatted content

5. Coding:

Now its programmers turn to add his code without disturbing the design. Unlike traditional design the developer must know the interface and the code should not disturb the look and feel of the site or application. So the developer should understand the design and navigation. If the site is dynamic then the code should utilize the template. The developer may need to interact with the designer, in order to understand the design. The designer may need to develop some graphic buttons when ever the developer is in need, especially while using some form buttons. If a team of developers is working they should use a CVS to control their sources. Coding team should generate necessary testing plans as well as technical documentation. For example Java users can use JavaDoc to develop their documents to understand their code flow. The end-user documentation can also be prepared by the coding team, which can be used by a technical writer who can understand them, writes helps and manuals later.

Input: The site with forms and the requirement specification

Output: Database driven functions with the site, Coding documents

6. Testing:

Unlike software, web based applications need intensive testing, as the applications will always function as a multi-user system with bandwidth limitations. Some of the testing which should be done are, Integration testing, Stress testing, Scalablity testing, load testing, resolution testing and cross-browser compatibility testing. Both automated testing and manual testing should be done without fail. For example its needed to test fast loading graphics and to calculate their loading time, as they are very important for any web site. There are certain testing tools as well as some online testing tools which can help the testers to test their applications. For example ASP developers can use Microsoft’s Web Application Test Tool to test the ASP applications, which is a free tool available from the Microsoft site to download.

After doing all the testing a live testing is necessary for web sites and web based applications. After uploading the site there should be a complete testing(E.g.. Links test)

Input: The site, Requirement specifications, supporting documents, technical specifications and technical documents

Output: Completed application/site, testing reports, error logs, frequent interaction with the developers and designers

7. Promotion:

This phase is applicable only for web sites. Promotion needs preparation of meta tags, constant analysis and submitting the URL to the search engines and directories. There is a details article in this site on site promotion, click here to read it. The site promotion is normally an ongoing process as the strategies of search engine may change quite often. Submitting a site URLs once in 2 months can be an ideal submission policy. If the customer is willing, then paid click and paid submissions can also be done with additional cost.

Input: Site with content, Client mails mentioning the competitors

Output: Site submission with necessary meta tag preparation

8. Maintenance and Updating:

Web sites will need quite frequent updations to keep them very fresh. In that case we need to do analysis again, and all the other life cycle steps will repeat. Bug fixes can be done during the time of maintenance. Once your web site is operational, ongoing promotion, technical maintenance, content management & updating, site visit activity reports, staff training and mentoring is needed on a regular basis depend on the complexity of your web site and the needs within your organization.

Input: Site/Application, content/functions to be updated, re-Analysis reports

Output: Updated application, supporting documents to other life cycle steps and teams.

The above-mentioned steps alone are not strict to web application or web site development. Some steps may not applicable for certain tasks. Its depend on the cost and time involved and the necessity. Sometimes if it is a intranet site, then there will be no site promotion. But even if you are a small development firm, if you adopt certain planning along with this web engineering steps in mind, it will definitely reflects in the Quality of the outcome.

See the flowchart “How we do web development in Macronimous?”[PDF format]