Category Archives: Web Design

How to Find the Right Web Design Company

A man’s errors are his portals of discovery.”

What does the above quotation convey? To have a portal, you have to commit mistakes. Isn’t that funny? No, not at all. It may be a motivating sentence, but in business it can turn out to be doomsday for small start-ups with little investments. This article has been done especially for small start-ups who want to make it in their respective fields and are planning to launch their website or looking for a facelift or adding new functionalities to there existing site or aren’t sure about their design requirements.

Choosing a Web Design Company

With a multitude of web designers and developers out there, from freelancers, to agencies, to online templates, how do you know what the right fit is for your company, and more importantly, for your goals and objectives? Choosing a web design company is not that a serious job. But choosing a good web design company is a real serious challenge. People say that Internet has made business processes simple and global, but how about the complexities that Internet offers which are unique. Just Search for the term “Good Web Design Firm” on Google, and it comes up with millions of results. For normal human being it’s impossible to search through every result. We will go through the entire process of selecting a Web Design and Development company in a structured way.

STEP 1 – Planning

The first step involves defining your needs. While searching for the right web designer, it is important to have a clear idea what role your new Web site or a redesigned one will fill. Will it provide information to your customers? Will it serve the needs of your employees? Or will it include an online shopping section so that you can sell your products to visitors? Most Web designers will need to know the following:

o The role of your new Web site.

o The intended market or audience of your Web site.

o Your budget.

Take time to consider what you expect from your Web site and the type of information you want to communicate to your potential clients before you approach your designer. This will save you and the designer a considerable amount of time and effort.

STEP 2 – Searching and Creating a Primary list

Searching is a vigorous process and does not require any special skill other than diligence to effectively come up with good results that fulfill your requirements. Just scan through directories, check Google listings on specific key word searches and ask for referrals from your friends or business partners. It does not have to be a very extensive research work.

Referral: Ask business acquaintances, friends, and family which web design firm designed the website for their respective organizations, or if they can otherwise recommend a web design firm.

Web sites: Determine the web design firm that is responsible for the websites of organizations that you admire. These organizations may be your competitors, or in related or unrelated industries. Sometimes the web design firm is included in the site credits, or is listed elsewhere on the website. If you cannot find the credits on the site itself, feel free to contact the organization and ask which web design firm is responsible for the website. This can also be a good source for references for that web design firm.

STEP 3 – Evaluating and Short listing

Once you have gathered a list of potential web design firms you are ready to pare them down to a shortlist. This requires a bit of research work.

Portfolio – It’s about the three C’s – Credibility, Consistency and Capability. How consistent they are? What are the parameters on which the company is capable enough to fulfill your requirement? Are there any testimonials that speak about their credibility? Do the projects in the portfolio have a consistent quality? Have they consistently given good results in the given time frame? Has the Web design company provided solutions to other companies in your industry? Have they dealt with similar challenges to those faced by your organization? These are some important factors to consider. When you’ve narrowed your search to a few design sources (through recommendations, web directories, or your competitors’ sites), evaluate their online portfolios and their rate structure. A web site doesn’t have to be flashy or animated to do its job. Browse sites they have built, check ease of navigation, organization of information, overall cleanliness and visitor-friendliness. Also, consider hiring a firm that demonstrates some familiarity with your type of business. Just go through the success stories/case studies that have been made available on their web site and corroborate the credentials through references if possible.

Experience and Fees – This is called the EF of web design firm. Experience and fees are very much inter-related. The general norm is the more experienced you are, the more you are paid. This interesting story can tell you what experience is all about.

Once upon a time there was a steam generating plant that was not producing much steam. After a frustrating search for the cause, the plant manager, in desperation, called in an expert. After only two hours on site, the expert found the problem and placed “X’s” on two pipes that were causing the problem, saying that they had to be removed. When presented with the bill, the plant manager asked the consultant how he could charge $5,000.00 for only two hours of work. When he asked for an itemized bill, this is what he got:

1. $400.00 – Placing “X’s” on two pipes.

2. $4,600.00 – Knowing where to place the “X’s”.

The plant manager got what he paid for and probably a lot more. He had already used up more than that amount on his own staff not to mention the loss in revenue while the plant was shut down. For him, securing the advisory services of a consultant was the right thing to do.

It matters a lot if the company has a good experience in diverse business domains and has professionals and specialists from variegated backgrounds. As such they will have an understanding of different business verticals that may be an advantageous point for your website. Another important factor is budget. What you pay is what you get – WYPIWYG. Never compromise with the quality of your website just for saving few quick bucks. In the long run you will end up on a losing side. Have you ever imagined why American diamonds cost less and than real diamonds when at times it’s difficult to differentiate between the two? It’s obvious – the brilliance and hardness of diamond. This makes another interesting point, you can get a cosmetic surgery done for your website for a lesser cost, but it will lack the functionalities and effectiveness. It can draw visitors but can not turn them into business. So when you pay for something, you definitely get a good deal in return.

Technology – What is their technological competence? Does this match with your requirement? How many projects they have worked on using the same? How frequently their technology is upgraded- both in terms of software and hardware?

Deadlines – Has the company carried out the projects in stipulated time? Time is one of the most important factors as the longer it takes, the higher the input costs get. Some companies may offer you a shorter time period and may be ready with the design. But after that starts the long and torrid journey of finding and fixing bugs which may turn your visitors off.

Responsiveness – How promptly the company responds to your queries? Does it listen to your queries? Are they responsive to my suggestions and questions? Do they explain issues in ways you can understand? Do they share your general vision for the site? Are they interested in Return on Investment for the web site? Do they possess the skills necessary to achieve your goals?

Communication Process – Poor communication is one of the major bottlenecks for business processes. Ensure that the company with which you are working is comfortable with your language. Generally, English (US/UK) is taken as the preferred language to communicate with each other. What are the tools and technologies they use for communicating? How will they keep you updated with the developments with regards your project? These are some of the important factors that should be kept in mind while deciding about the communication process while choosing a Web Design partner.

Services – What are the other services that company can offer other than designing? What kind of value-added products or services can the design firm offer?

All these points will help you to narrow down to the list of companies that may offer you viable solutions and help your cause. The next step involves inviting proposals from the short listed parties. Just check through as many cross references that you find justifiable or will satisfy your curiosity. The more time you will invest in this phase, the sweeter will be the returns afterwards.

STEP 4- Proposals

Once you have selected your short-list of top web development firms, request that they send you a proposal. Ask that their proposal include an overview of your requirements and their proposed solution. This will help to determine which web design firm understands your requirements best. Also ask that each web design firm include a description of their development process and a price breakdown for the various aspects of the website project.

STEP 5 – Evaluating Proposals

Evaluate each proposal individually on the basis of merit. Take the following points into consideration:

a) Wellness of the proposal.

b) Respective strength and weaknesses of the companies.

c) Evaluate the presentation and format style.

STEP 6 – Selecting the Company

After your organization has reviewed all proposals, compare them with each other. How do they fare in terms of presentation? How do their processes appear in terms of project management? Do they present scalability and/or upgrade paths for your project, which go beyond the needs of the immediate goals outlined?

After going through all the above process, you should be able to zero in on to a particular company. If the doubt persists, establish communication process between the likely companies to understand their process and commitments.

Choosing the Right Web Designer

So, you’ve finally decided that you need a web site for your business? Well, there are a few key-points to remember BEFORE you make one of the most crucial decisions for your business.

Choosing the right designer for your new business web site:

When it comes to choosing the right web designer for your web site, you should always shop around first to check out all of the available options. There are many web design companies out there to choose from. And most of them are pretty good at what they do.

Always ask to see samples of a web designer’s previous work and examine their portfolio. This will help you get a better feel for the style of sites any particular web designer is capable of doing. Most of the time, web designers have their own unique style and you can easily spot which designs they’ve done in the past. I mean, it’s similar to any other artist’s style; you can definitely spot their previous works based on the general layout, color scheme, and over-all visual appearance of the sites.

Experience is also a key factor here. Just like any other craft, web designers get better with experience. So naturally, you’ll be better off by choosing a web designer who has more experience under his or her belt.

Another key point you should define is whether or not the web designer can make you a 100% custom web site. Or will it be just a basic template web design that 100’s or even 1,000’s of people already have across the Internet. Pretty much anybody these days can create a basic HTML web page in Microsoft Word or Publisher and change the title of it to reflect their Branson business. But you must ask yourself: “is this really what I’m looking for”?

Web sites that are truly custom built will stand out more the rest of the basic template web designs that so many people are using these days. A custom web design will catch the eye of your potential customers and show them that you have a really professional web presence and you mean business.

A lot of web designers these days choose to do the template web sites for one of 2 reasons:

It’s cheaper to use a basic template web design. They might be lacking the necessary skills needed to develop a fully custom web site. Whatever the case may be, make sure you go with a designer who is capable of creating a custom web design for you. It will inevitably cost you more for a custom site. But it is totally worth the extra money spent. Trust me, in the end you will be much happier with your web site if it is a site that’s unique and created for just your business and not everybody else’s.

Communication with a potential web designer is also critical in the development of your web site. You need to be perfectly clear and define your goals up-front, before you actually sign a web design service contract with a designer. Make sure you know what you are getting for your money and make sure you get it in writing! I have a 9-page web site design contract that I use every single time I design a new web site. Included in this contract is an itemized list of all work that is to be performed during the development of the web site. Things like the exact number of pages, the exact number of graphics to be designed, whether or not I need to create a logo, the estimated time before completion, whether or not routine site maintenance will be performed after the site is 6 months or 1 year old, etc.

Defining these things will help you in the long run and will also make sure you and the web designer are on the same page.

I also use what I call my “web design planning worksheet”. This worksheet gives “milestones” or deadlines for each phase of the web design project. Things like “In 2 weeks the general layout will be done” and “2 weeks after that, the site will be coded and launched” and then “In one moth after the web site is launched, we will evaluate it to see what needs to be adjusted”, etc. (these are just examples, by the way. the details included in one of my actual worksheets gives exact dates and more specific milestones).

And what about the web hosting for your new web site? Usually, a web designer will provide some kind of insight as to which hosting company they recommend. Web designers in general have a preference for a hosting company that they know will be a good choice for your web site and they should assist you in making this selection.

Fortunately, we have our own web server here at Digital Spiral Web Design so we can do all of the hosting ourselves. This is very beneficial because we can make sure the web server stays up and running and if there is any maintenance that needs to be performed on the server, we can do it ourselves in a timely manner. Plus, we will always cut a deal for our web site hosting services to any new business who chooses us to do their web design.

Will your new web site require any specialized web programming? Well, the answer to that question is based solely on the needs of your Branson web site. What kind of site will it be? Does it need a shopping cart for e-commerce? Will you be implementing any special web applications or online forms for your viewers to fill out? Will it be a web site that requires your viewers to fill out registrations and sign up so they can login? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then chances are you’ll need a web designer who can also program.

Web developers and designers must be skilled in the art of web PROGRAMMING (something that is very different from regular web DESIGN). Web programming involves the implementation of different web programming languages like JAVA, PHP, Flash, SQL, or.NET. All of these web programming languages need highly skilled individuals to code them and develop web programs with them.

I personally love PHP! I use it for pretty much everything. I won’t go into the details of PHP in this article (I would have to write an entire book about it to cover all of it). But with PHP, I can create pretty much any web application that is logically possible.

So, make sure you choose a web designer who is also capable of coding any special functions that your new web site needs. This decision needs to be discussed and gone over by any potential web designer you might use to create your Branson web site.

And finally, you should always check with the potential web designer’s previous clients to make sure they give him or her a good reference. Remember: it just like any other service. You need to verify a web designer’s references and make sure they can do what they say they can do.

So, just to summarize all of the tips I’ve mentioned:

Ask questions, questions, and more questions before you choose a web designer. Clearly define your goals from the beginning. Ask to see the web designer’s portfolio and samples of their previous work. Make sure they can help you with choosing a web hosting provider. Get documentation to show exactly how many pages will be included in the project and the estimated time before completion. If your Branson web site requires special web programming, make sure the designer can handle it. I hope this article helps anybody who is getting ready to have a new web site designed. A good web site can really do wonders for your business!

Web Design Templates

The intention of web templates is to design a web site. Web design templates are used for separation of content from presentation in a web design and mass production of web documents. These collections of electronic files reside on one or more web servers to present content to the end user in the form of web pages. Studies have shown that web templates can grab interest of the first time user in only 10 seconds.

Web design templates are designed for professional and visual appeal. One can have a customized web design for a better reflection of the companies brand or for personal or commercial use.

Most of the web design templates created for commercial use, and should be appealing and luring to the visitors of the site. The web template should be stunning, innovative and ready to use. A spectacular web template will without doubt create an eye-catching home page that can almost grab the visitor by the collar and engross them on the site. However not all persons have the technical skills to create web design templates. For such people one can always ask a professional to make a customized web page at a certain cost.

For a minimal fee, one can own web design templates created by the best designers. These web templates are cost effective, unique, professionally designed, have functional web layouts, innovative, easy to customize with interfaces in Photoshop format. Other than purchasing the web templates, it is also possible to get free web design templates from the various websites that offer them. After purchase, the website can be used as one’s own but there are rules pertaining to the terms of usage. To avoid copyright, one should have the link of the web designer on the home page. An amount can be paid not to have the designers’ link on the home page.

After downloading the web design templates, one can replace all generic information that came with it and use their own to fit their profile or organization brand. The web templates are used to display personal information or day-to-day activities, to display information about an organization or company, displaying family history, a gallery of photos, to place music files or mp3 through the browser or to set up private login areas on-line.

Most of the successful web designs companies and other designers emphasize that the most important factor for creating web design templates is that it should offer original content to the readers in a way that will easily assist the search engine results. To be able to achieve this, web design templates should be interesting, in that they should attract viewers by adding quality and original content. Other ways are getting the brand right, keeping the home context short, easy linking pages, pictures to give enough emphasis; also, the size of the text especially on home page should be large enough to suit the web design layout. However, one is not limited to one design it is best to research on the content that one wants to use and even ask peers on the best way to create good web design templates.

How to Find the Right Web Designer

Finding a web designer is the easy part- all you need to do is perform a quick search online and bingo, you’re presented with pages and pages of them in the search engine results. The hard part is choosing the right web designer for your individual project. Every web design project has a specific set of requirements and every web designer has a unique set of skills that may, or may not, be suitable for your needs. In this article, I’ll list some key factors that will help you find the right web designer and how you determine if they have the necessary skills to undertake your web development project.

Research the Web Designers Website and Online Portfolio

Every web designer should have a functioning website and an online portfolio of their work. If they don’t, you can scratch them off the list. After you have found some web designers in your area, or anywhere else for that matter, you should research each of their websites and check out samples of their work. Different web designers take different approaches to their work and use a variety of technologies. You should read up on their skills and approach to web design, to make sure they suit your requirements. Viewing completed websites and samples of the web designer’s work is also essential to get a good idea of the design style and skills they have. Make sure the websites function correctly. If some of the web designer’s recent samples are not working, there is a good chance that, if you use them, your website might have the same issues. Look at the design style of their portfolio samples. Most web designers tend to stick to a particular style. If you like the look of their websites, and their website text sounds appealing, you’re onto a winner. Take the next step and call them, or send a project brief through.

Speak to Your Chosen Web Designers

Another key point to determine which web designer is best for you, is finding out whether you can communicate with them. You will need to explain your vision to the designer and they should be able to respond with ideas and suggestions for your project. If you call your designer and there is, for example, a language barrier between you, that could be a problem throughout the development process. Talking to a potential web designer also gives you a good idea whether you are going to get on with them or not. If you call to speak with your chosen web design company and you are put on the phone to a rude or uninterested individual – in my books, that would not be somebody you would want to deal with on an ongoing basis. If they are enthusiastic, keen and communicate well you are more likely to have a successful ongoing professional relationship.

Qualification and Experience

Qualifications and experience are not always essential but they do give you some security that the web designer knows what they are doing and has the skills to undertake your project. It’s really up to your judgment whether you want to use a web designer with no experience but you never know, they might be a young gun with tons of talent and is just waiting for that first project to unleash their skills on to. Whether you prefer your web designer to have qualifications or not is also up to you. Qualifications just mean they have had some formal recognition of their skills. My preference would be experience beats qualifications any day. Your web designer may have undertaken a six month course which has got them a certificate of some sort but that does not make them a good designer. There is so much information online and ways to hone your design talents now, that needing somebody to teach you is not essential.

Creative Vision

It is very important the web designer you speak to understands your creative vision. To create a website that truly serves a purpose and business goal, the designer need to understand the nature of the website and relate to your overall vision. Take note on whether the web designer offers any ideas or suggestions when you’re talking to them. This is a good indication of whether they understand the project and are enthusiastic about it.

The Right Technology

Different web projects need different technology behind them. Not all web designers have all the necessary skills for some types of web development. For example you may need a full content management system with database driven content and advanced search engine optimisation. This is something not all web designers can provide. Most designer’s will tell you straight away if they are unable to complete the project, due to technical limitations. It is up to you as a client to inform the designer of all the feature’s you anticipate your website to have so they can tell you whether they can complete it.

A Reasonable Cost

The cost of the web project is normally the key factor in how people choose their web designer. The scope of your project and what budget you have can limit what designer you choose. If you have a very small budget but want to build the next Facebook, any sane web designer will tell you they can’t help you. However, it is always good to get a few quotes and see which designer can offer the best package, for a reasonable cost. If they’re too expensive, it might be because they are a larger company with more overheads, or they are simply very good at what they do. If they are cheap, do a bit more investigation before committing – Cheap web design may end up costing you more in the long run, as it probably won’t serve its purpose very well and you will need to get it rebuilt. The cost of web design is often open ended… ‘how long is a piece of string?’… A good web designer should be able to explain the reason why they have quoted a certain price, and discuss what they can do within your budget – Just because you have received an initial quote that may be higher than you originally anticipated, talk to your designer about it. Quite often, there could be features or aspects of the quote than can be removed, or modified, to get the project back within your budget – If you don’t ask, you’ll never know.

Web Site Development

A web site is a software package. By definition, a package is a ready-made program that is available to users for use to perform some tasks. These users include non-IT professionals. Thus, a web site qualifies to be a package like Microsoft Office, Peachtree Accounting packages.

Before the revolution of The Web (WWW), development of software package was the exclusive preserve of skillful programmers. Programmers or software developers develop the logic of programs which a package will eventually use to function. This logic building aspect of software development requires high level of intellect. This together with the intricacies of mastering programming languages made the development of packages uninteresting and unattractive to a large spectrum of people.

Following the revolution of The Web, it became possible for non-programmers to develop packages right from the inception. These are web-based packages and of course, web sites, requiring no programming skills. The result was the creation of a new type of profession called Web Design. A web designer is someone who organizes a web page by arranging texts, pictures, animations, forms etc on a page and formats them to produce good presentation. All he needs do is to make use of any of the appropriate web development tools like Macromedia Visual Studio and Microsoft FrontPage. Through the Design section of Macromedia Dreamweaver, for example, you can design a whole web page without using HTML codes. What you have is a web site. A web site is one or more web pages. These web development tools are the equivalent of what the popular package Adobe PageMaker does which is to organize and format pages of books, magazines, newspapers etc. No programming is required.

The limitation of web designing is the creation of static web sites which may be suitable for some applications but not all. They produce non-interactive and non-dynamic web sites that are unsuitable for certain applications and needs. For example, online registration. The role of a web designer stops at this point and that of a web programmer begins. As a result of the limitation of static web sites, the need to move further arose. People wanted sites where they could post forms for tasks like creating accounts online and authentication of passwords. This led to the development of web programming languages otherwise known as scripts. Examples are JavaScript, ASP, ASP.NET, JSP, PHP, ColdFusion etc. The result was the creation of the profession of web programming. A web programmer is someone who develops programs for the purpose of performing automated tasks on a web site. Some prefer to call them software developers. Example of such tasks are:

  1. Data validation.
  2. Form submission.
  3. Sign Up.
  4. Database search.

Thus, it became possible to develop dynamic and interactive web sites capable of doing what conventional software could do on stand-alone computer and network using non-internet technologies. Online banking, stock broking are examples. These functions can now be carried out entirely on internet. To develop functional scripts for such automated tasks, logic building and mastery of the programming language to use in terms of syntax are required. Most of the programs are written from scratch.

Can you be a web designer and a web programmer? Yes, you can. There are people who double as web designer and web programmer but specialists are noted for doing better in their respective fields of specialization than non-specialists. Some sites do not require more than web designing but many sites nowadays require both web designing and web programming like the multi-tier applications that have presentation layer, the logic layer that interfaces the presentation layer with the database, and the data layer that contains the database. There are even database specialists who design database and write what is called stored procedures and triggers right inside the database. The use of stored procedures increases the overall efficiency of site execution as it minimizes the number of times SQL statements are parsed, compiled, and optimized during execution. You can see that site development is quite deep.

The roles of web designers and web programmers are complementary in the development of web site. You need to identify where your ability lies and allow that to inform your choice of area of specialization. If you know you have the ability to write programs, you can go beyond web designing and become a web programmer but if it is otherwise, stick to web designing and continue to grow and sharpen your skills. The truth of the matter is that programming is not for everybody.

If you are a conventional graphic artist, you will find it easy to crossover to web designing and if you are a conventional programmer, you can readily crossover to web programming. What I mean by conventional graphic artists are those who have the expertise in the use of tools like CorelDraw, Photoshop, and PageMaker to perform Desktop Publishing tasks. By conventional programmers, I mean the experts in programming languages like C++, FoxPro, COBOL, and Dbase.

As long as you can determine where your ability lies, you will surely overcome frustrations in your tasks of developing web sites and you will continue to enjoy what you are doing. If you are a web designer and you have a job that involves programming which you cannot handle, look for assistance from a web programmer. If you are a web programmer and you are having issues with web designing in your task, seek the assistance of a web designer. If you can handle both areas to a very large extent, well and good.

Web Design Tricks

Web design tricks are used by Professional web designers; to create effective web page designs but most importantly to show off beautiful code. A web designer’s job is to develop web pages that communicate effective design, while also demonstrating knowledge of html and CSS. Web designers can utilize a variety of web design tricks there are tons of design related resources available for free to  designers, graphic designers or anyone seeking knowledge of creating or learning about website design tricks.  Professional web designers such as Molly, Lynda, and Eric Meyer, often have blogs or have written books, dedicated to helping others learn how to create web design tricks. I have found a great list of web design tricks & resources and have listed them on my website, you can check out the article it’s called “Useful websites that offer free web design tips & tricks” I have also included in this article some basic web design tricks that you will be able to incorporate in your next design project.

The first thing you want to do before designing your web page is to create a flowchart, a flowchart will aid in the outline of your web design project.  Next you will need to decide how you want to lay-out your site. There are a few basic layouts, however most professional designers use layouts that are compatible with the more popular browsers, “this design trick’ is very important to know, as you will want all users to be able to access your web pages. The site Just dreamweaver has a ton of free blank or empty layouts that you can use as a guide. Or you can choose from some pre-made templates that are featured free, on smashing magazines website.  If you don’t like any of the layouts suggested, you can create your own. Make sure to ensure browser compatibility by incorporating the right browser hacks. Make sure you know how the browser hacks work before you use this particular web design trick. Do some research on website design tricks before attempting to write your own code.

Next you will use the measurements from you’re empty web template to start the design process. Most Professional designers use Photoshop to design the graphical interface of their web page. I like to start my PSD interface template by boxing my layout first. For instance If I have a header at the top of my page, I would first create a big grey box and label it header, than on my side bar I would create another grey box, matching the measurements 100% from my html coded template, this ensures that I have a perfectly even and compatible transition from PSD to html or xhtml. After you have laid out your grey outline you can turn on rulers and guides and start lining up your grey outlines.

Now if you turn off the entire layer, you will see that the rulers have perfectly lined up your site for you. The next step is to lock the rulers than group the grey layer and hide them and then lock the grey layer as well. Now you are ready to start your design, if you are having trouble coming up with concepts, look at some example sites to get your creative juices flowing. With these Web Design Tricks you are sure to create a 100% cross browser compatible web design that’s super easy and fast to create, furthermore now that you know these simple web design tricks, you can incorporate them in your next design project.

Good Web Design

What is Web Design?
A Web site is the final output of a Web design. The Web site sits on a Web server where electronic files are stored. The Web site presents the contents and interactive features or interfaces to the end user in the form of Web pages. How the information requested is displayed to the user is par of the Web design process. Additional controls are embedded in order to display more complex media like animations, sounds and other forms.

Whats New? The Clouds of Course!
Everybody wants something new from time to time and yet some need a fix of something totally different. In the realm of the internet, that is quite a common occurrence with the many innovations that are always popping up and with all of them, none can be as exciting as the move into the clouds.

The Open Design Community: Free CSS Templates!
If youre most people out there who dont know CSS and have no time, or care, on how to do one for your blog, then the next action for you would be to find a place where you can download one for free. Thank goodness that there are a lot of sites out there that give them away for free. The only problem is, that since you were not the one who created it, you will be subject to their designs and whims.

One of the sites that give free CSS of cool web designs is The Open Design Community (TODC). The Open Design Community is a hub for open source website designers from around the world providing thousands of XHTML and CSS based free web design templates available for download. So, please feel free to take a minute or two and browse through the designs that our fabulous designers have submitted and see if one might work for you! And remember they are free!

Bad Web Design
Here are some features that can really mar the over all concept of your web design. It is important to take notice of the most common mistakes web designers commit. You might be able to use some insights into creating an effective web design which might be simple but can invoke your projected image. Backgrounds that are gray in color by default presents so many problems most especially with the pages readability. Avoid color combinations that can render the characters unreadable. Backgrounds are mostly effective when it is left simple and does not interfere with reading. Texts must be readable. Avoid small characters. Keep the links colored blue as much as possible because common users are already used with the color.

DIY Web Design
Do it yourself design projects are proliferating in the internet these days. There are a number of web sites that practically teaches you what to do without hiring a web designer. A do it yourself web site design applies perfectly for young professionals who are just starting to learn stuff in business or trying to reformat the existing business that they are running. DIY web site design offers you total control over the project and over the site that is why its simply gaining popularity. It takes the work out of dealing with consultants, designer, contractor landscaper and the likes. In DIY design, your ideas are sure to be heard and taken careful attention to. You get to express your style and personality. because at the end of the day, it still will be your website, selling your products. This has solved constant problems with web designers who are truly passionate in their work who sometime can get overly sensitive to a small correction or observation of his work. Do it yourself web designing surely saves you money and time and energy.

Benefits of Web 2.0 Applications
Web 2.0 applications are the latest trend in website design . Many Internet companies and users are turning to web 2.0 for its added features. It has also increased functionality. It has brought about a new wave in how sites are to be built, designed and applied hands-on. It makes the users enjoy blogging, download, RSS feeds etc. These developments give added excitement to online experience. It is said that Web 2.0 companies sites get higher ranking in search engines, like Google, yahoo and countless others. Web 2.0 benefits are countless. You can post photos, albums, help guides and maps for planning your travel abroad.

It has radically changed the quality of social interaction worldwide. Blogs proliferate. marketing online costs much less. And it has created networking success stories. Web 2.0 gives you full control over your business while adding smaller but very useful features to it.

Website design is of course not giving the visitors with another plain piece of text. Go as per the old saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Here the beholder is the visitor of the website that you are going to design. So as a skilled website designer you should have mastered all the skills needed to create classy and attractive graphics, colors and shapes placed in perfect balance to catch the eye of the visitor together with drawing his focus to the most important sections of your website. Your job as a website designer is to make use of colors, text and graphics and translate into a visually appealing layout, logo, banner, and button system.

As a professional website designer, you need to chalk out a well-devised approach for creating the website. First, you need to understand the specific business necessities of your client and lay out the basic structure of the website. In order to minimize the cost of the set up, the website designer should be equipped with predefined web templates. Having this feature in your armory, you don’t need to go hog-wild with the designs for the reason that you are not designing a website by tinkering.

Steps to Hiring the Best Web Designer

You have been planning forever to get a website designer to work on your site. Your plans are clear and you have prepared your content. What next? How do you go about choosing the best web designer or web design company?

Step 1. Ask around. Ask friends, or similar companies who have hired a web designer in the past. Besides getting the contact numbers of the web designers, ask how it is to work with that person. Find out what happened during the design process and what they think of the designs submitted.

Step 2. Do your research for contact information. Use the internet or your phonebook to get the names and contact information of web design companies in your area. If you use the internet, have a peek of their past work. Then contact each and ask for a quotation.

Step 3. Look through the portfolio of the web design company you are choosing from. See if the designs are professional-looking, clean and easy to use.

Step 4. Look at the experience of the web designer or Web Design Company. How long has the person or company been in business? How many companies have they designed for?

Step 5. See if the designer or web design company is up to date with the newest trends in web marketing. Useful, profitable websites attract the correct traffic with search engine optimization and usability and by employing web 2.0 strategies such as social media marketing. Effective web sites take SEO and usability into serious consideration. See if your web designer has at least a basic knowledge of both. In order for your website to be successful you need to be able to implement a successful internet marketing campaign.

Step 6. Look at the web designer or web design company proposed turnaround time. Does it match the schedule of your company’s plans?

Step 7. Examine the web designer or web design company terms of service and website files ownership. See if you agree with the conditions set by the designer to work with you. See also the rights as to who owns the final output and what sizes. If this is not clear from the start, you just may be surprised to find that the work you commissioned is not yours and you may have to pay extra to get it.

Step 8. See what the web designer offers for after-design services. Will the designer help maintain your site or is the designer only expected to do the initial design?

Step 9. Talk to the designer. Is s/he easy to communicate with? You should be able to communicate with your web designer easily. You should be comfortable presenting problems that you want solved. Your web designer should be respectful and prompt. You should both be able to compromise on what will work best for the viewers, not necessarily your personal taste.

Step 10. Look for previous, happy clients. You may look through the designer’s website or blog and see if there are client testimonials. Note what they have to say about the designer. You may also try to call them (you may ask the contact number from the web designer) and ask for comments regarding the design process and final output.

How Do You Become a Web Designer?

Web design can be an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. It’s a trade that combines technical skills with creative ability. If you feel comfortable with computer technology and you enjoy creating documents, web design can be a great way to combine the two interests.

That being said, it’s always overwhelming to consider learning a new skill. Before learning how to become a web designer, you should ask yourself, “Should I become a web designer?”

I’ve been learning web design since I was ten years old, in 1994. I now do a lot of web design for myself and for some small business clients. There have been plenty of pleasures, but also plenty of frustrations. If you’re considering becoming a web designer, there are some things you should keep in mind.

If you have a lot of time to devote to learning HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Photoshop, it’s possible to learn the basics in a couple of months. Be ready to spend some money on manuals, books, and applications.

No matter how you decide to learn web design and how you decide to enter the field, some people have better potential to become web designers than others.
When you’re programming, even if you’re using a simple language like HTML and using a helpful application like Dreamweaver, you’re going to encounter some frustrations. Sometimes, when I create an HTML document, I spend a lot more time making corrections and problem solving than doing fun stuff. Are you prepared to spend a lot of time testing and making little changes? No matter how you approach web design, tedium can’t be completely avoided. If you’re easily frustrated and discouraged, web design might not be for you.

Unless web design is going to be just a hobby for you, you will have clients you have to work with. Sometimes clients have a lot of specific expectations. Some clients have experience with web design themselves, but others may demand things without knowing the technical limitations involved. Before you start any project for clients, it’s best to have a thorough conversation with them about what they want and what they need. That can save you a lot of time. How would you like to spend weeks developing a website, only to discover that your client wants completely different fonts, colors, graphics, site organization and content? If you’re going to get into designing web pages for other people, you’re going to have to be ready to make a lot of compromises and take a lot of criticism. Are you ready for that?

Finally, ask yourself if you have the time and energy to promote yourself. If you want to be hired by a web design firm, in addition to learning skills and possibly obtaining certifications, you’ve also got to be ready to pound the pavement with your resume and portfolio. It might take you over a year to find a job. Be ready to attend a lot of job interviews, and possibly get a lot of rejections.

If you’re going to become a freelancer, like I am, you’ve really got to devote a lot of energy to self-promotion. Set up a website, preferably with your own domain. Be ready to spend some money on advertising. Spend a lot of time promoting your services with social media – Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, and so on. Scan classified ads, particularly online classifieds. Print business cards and distribute them wherever you can. Use your connections and word-of-mouth to your advantage. Tell everyone you know that you’re a web designer, and maybe someone knows someone who could be your first client. Sometimes I spend more time promoting myself than I do actually doing the work itself.

If you’re ready to spend a little bit of money, do a lot of tedious work, take some criticism, and do a lot of self-promotion, then web design may be the field for you.

First, you’ve got to start the learning process. If you enjoy classroom instruction and having teachers, sign up for some web design and graphic design courses through your local community college. If you’d rather start learning on your own, buy some good books, look at the source codes of the web pages you visit, and go through some online tutorials. Even if you’re going to start learning web design in a school setting, be prepared to do a lot of learning in your free time, as well.

It’s important to learn HTML, especially HTML5. Learn Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), up to CSS3. JavaScript, possibly some server side scripting languages, and Flash are very useful, too. Don’t forget to learn how to use Photoshop. If you don’t have the money to buy Photoshop right away, start by downloading some free graphic design programs like Paint.Net and GIMP. You can learn some of the basics of graphic design that way, and possibly be better prepared when you finally buy the most recent version of Photoshop.

These days, people access the web in more ways than were ever possible before. When you’re web designing, you not only want to make your web pages work in multiple browsers, but also on multiple devices. Even basic cell phones can access the web today, not just smart phones such as BlackBerrys and iPhones. Even some video game playing devices like the Sony PSP and Nintendo DSi have web browsers. Web surfers could be using tiny screens or enormous screens. They could be using a variety of different browsers and versions of browsers. Users may have completely different plug-ins and fonts; Adobe Flash is a browser plug-in, for instance. When you’re learning web design, try surfing the web in as many ways as you can.

There are many helpful resources for learning web design online, and there are many helpful online tools for web designers, many of which I use.

How to Create Good Web Design

There are many different types of web design, from those built using website templates and ‘build your own’ site building applications to complex content managed and e-commerce web designs such as those used by big brand names like Amazon, eBay and Tesco. Some companies, even some big name companies, have unprofessional looking and badly designed websites. Some have amazing looking websites but because of their high graphical content and minimal text content can take an age to load, are not user friendly and do not provide what the visitor wants.

Good Website Design

Though many aspects of website design differ from site to site, many things remain the same throughout the majority of websites on the internet. Most notably is the navigation or menu. The way in which a website’s menu works and looks is very important, as ultimately, visitors to a website are looking for certain criteria that will make them either stay and interact or leave. This ability for a website to keep visitors interested is sometimes referred to as stickiness. Visitors want an attractive visually exciting experience, but perhaps more importantly, they want ‘ease of use’. Website usability is a key factor for websites that want their visitors to stick around, make an enquiry and ultimately complete a transaction and order a product or service.

Easy to Use Web Design

Internet users tend to prefer easy to use websites, because they do not want to have to learn how to use a website every time they find a new one. They should be able to use a website after only a few seconds of looking around a homepage, any more and they will leave and browse elsewhere. The need for fast user interaction is vital and therefore having a fast loading website is also important for a website to succeed. Even with faster internet connections such as broadband, internet users don’t want to wait around.

Just imagine, if you go to a shop on the high street and are totally ignored by shop assistants at the counter for 5 minutes, even after you have made it clear you want help. There is a correlation here to how an internet user may feel, when they arrive at a website that has been poorly designed, is difficult to use, unfriendly and slow to load. Making sure that a website has been well thought out and designed with the user in mind, displays a company’s unique selling points within easily recognizable eye catching calls for action and has a clear, easy to use menu is key to its success.

Flash Web Design

With recent web design advancements, such as the introduction of Flash animation and high definition video content, impressive websites have been produced to take advantage of much higher levels of visual effects and interaction. However with this ‘high end’ web design, comes a price, more often than not, web designs which rely heavily upon Flash content are often ridiculously slow to load. They often have a progress bar, which slowly goes across the web browser to signify when the website will finish loading.

This is much like the progress bars that you may be familiar with if you use video editing or 3D rendering software, or if you use games consoles where they are displayed whilst you wait for games to load. Internet users on the whole do not want to wait 3 – 5 minutes for a web page to load even if it does feature high resolution images, animation or video. They want fast informative content rich websites. If they wanted to watch an animation or video they would watch TV.

Good Flash Web Design

This is not to say that Flash animation is all bad news and shouldn’t be used in web design. If used subtly and in small amounts it can make a website more visually appealing without slowing the load time down too much. Suitable uses for Flash animation in web design are things such as; Flash banner advertisements, Flash video and interactive Flash forms for online questionnaires or business presentations.

Using Flash for a whole website design however, is not such a good idea. It slows the user’s experience down because they have to wait for elements of it to load. Also, sites totally developed in Flash tend to use unfamiliar menu structures and features. This can confuse visitors who just want to quickly interact with the website and not be amazed by the way the menu animates. Just because you can do these things in Flash, it doesn’t mean they have any real working value in the real world. They may look pretty, but if they are not functional and only irritate the visitor then they have no real value.

Flash Web Design & SEO

Another argument against using Flash to create a whole website is that it dramatically reduces the effectiveness of your websites’ Search Engine Optimisation. Flash web designs are made up of one main file within a web page which search engines find difficult to index. This is because the text within them is usually graphical text and therefore is not usually accessible by search engines. Some recent developments allow some text to be displayed for search engines in Flash websites, but this is nowhere near as effective as text content within traditional HTML based websites.

Don’t Write Off Flash in Web Design

Although Flash does have its limitations it also has its good points if used correctly. For instance; Flash animation is usually smaller in file size than traditional gif animation and because of the way it is made the animation flows smoother than gif animation too. Having said this, I would recommend only using Flash in small areas within a site to compliment other imagery that makes up the overall design. Finding a balance between minimal graphical elements, imagery, Flash and good quality informative text is the key to a successful user friendly website. This isn’t to say that web design needs be boring. By working with quality web design companies there’s no reason why you couldn’t have a visually exciting, well designed, easy to use and successful website.

Visually Stimulating Web Design

When visitors first arrive at a website, they want to be impressed and engaged with what the website has to offer. This will be determined by the ways in which the web designer has laid out the website’s content text, images and features. Arranging elements such as imagery, text, graphics, flash and video in such a way as to keep the visitor interested in the website is the key to good web design. If a website has poor design and doesn’t grab the attention of the visitor in the first few seconds, then it may well be dismissed as just another average website. This ultimately means the visitor will go elsewhere to spend their time and, more importantly, money.

Good Web Design Layout

A lot of time and money is spent making sure that the right elements of websites are positioned in the right places. Companies spend large amounts of money conducting research into how internet users use their websites. This type of research shows where their visitors’ eyes concentrate the most, which elements of the website they click on first and generally how they interact and use their websites. Most internet users will look primarily from the top left either across the page, or down the left hand side of the web page through an internet browser via a computer, mobile phone or TV set.

I would hazard a guess, that they are looking for the company’s name or logo, their main selling points or slogans and then what the website has to offer in terms of what is featured in the menu. After which their eyes are probably drawn across the page content and over to the right hand side. Successful web design usually takes this into consideration and will ultimately affect the way a website looks.

There are of course rather famous exceptions to this rule for instance one rather well known search engine has a web design which is quite different. The main focus and core functionality in their web design is located right in the centre of the page. This however, isn’t any ordinary website with tens or even hundreds of pages of products and services to display, its main focus is its recognisable logo and of course its search box. It does however feature a small minimal menu across the top of the web design, which flows from left to right. So even they have taken onboard some of the research undertaken into internet users’ habits. If you go looking at websites after reading this article, I can guarantee that most of the web designs you’ll see, will have a left hand menu and a defined header bar with a company logo and slogan across it.