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Why does my business or organization need a professionally developed web site?

Although many people today possess the skills to make a very rudimentary web site, the internet has evolved and this is no longer sufficient for a business or organization's web presence. Multiple browsers, download times, monitor resolutions and accessibility are just a few examples of the types of issues a webmaster needs to take into consideration when building a web site. Below, these topics and others are examined in more detail.

Browser compatibility, monitor resolutions, accessibility

Well-designed web sites will function properly in many different web browsers. Too often unskilled designers overlook these differences and create sites that work well in one version of Internet Explorer but not in Netscape, Lynx, WebTV or others.

Not all users have their monitors set at the same resolution, this needs to be taken into consideration before creating sites that may require too much horizontal scrolling. Or any horizontal scrolling for that matter, WebTV does not allow any.

It is also very important for accessibility issues to be considered. For example, many vision-impaired visitors have software to convert text to speech. If site navigation depends solely on images or if no 'Alt' tags are utilized, these potential customers will be unable to use your site.

Statistics, Search Engine Registration

To know how many visitors are coming to your site, what percent are making purchases, how they found your site, etc. it is necessary to have access to server logs and statistics software. Free hit counters, often seen on amateur sites, are either inaccurate or do not give this kind of information at all.

One of the main ways to help promote your site is through search engine registration. It is very important for web pages to be optimized in such a way as to increase the chances of your site being included in the major search engine databases and directories.

Graphics and Animation

If you would like for your site to be visually appealing, it is essential that the graphics are created properly with professional software such as Photoshop, Freehand, Flash etc. Graphics and animation should be appropriately incorporated to help promote your site, not detract from it. Too many graphics or those with large file sizes may take too long to download and many of your site visitors will leave before they get started.

Hosting

Services offered by hosting companies vary greatly. Things to look for include fast servers, good security practices, percent uptime, backup power supplies, server software used (NT vs. UNIX) etc. Hosting with your ISP is not always the best idea; often their services and prices are not the most competitive around. Good web developers often offer hosting services along with design, or can at least make good recommendations.

Additional questions to consider:

Does the person building your site really know how to code HTML, or are they using WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) software, which does all the coding for them? Often sites constructed in this manner are badly organized and difficult to update. Do they know how to configure CGI scripts; are they aware of the security risks to servers of improperly written scripts? Can they do any javascripting? Are they familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of javascripting? Do they possess an understanding of usability issues; clear navigation, layout, overall organization, etc.? Do they utilize any of the newer technologies, such as CSS, Flash, etc., and are they aware of the potential risks and advantages involved with using these?


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