Monthly Archives: August 2017

The Roles of Web Designers and Web Programmers

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.

What SMEs Need to Know When Hiring a Web Developer or Designer

Your business is… well, whatever your business may be: human resources, plumbing, running your restaurant. Many SME owners are privileged to do what they love and work very hard to make their businesses successful. Whatever you do, you want your website to work for you, but you want to spend your time running your business, not working on the nuts and bolts of website design, so when you need web services, how do you ensure that you are doing the right thing for your business?

This straightforward checklist will allow you to manage your web service needs from start to finish and to make sure you get the best quality and value web development for your company.

Which web services do you need?

If you don’t yet have a website, the first step is to write down exactly why you want a website and what you want it to do for your business. Is it an online business card for reference? Do you want to sell products or services via your site? Is it to improve communication within or outside the organisation? All of these factors influence the design and development of your website, who might be best suited to do the work and the potential cost.

If you already have a website, try to pinpoint exactly what you do and don’t like about the existing website and how things might be changed. Try and be specific: rather than noting that it looks outdated, identify what makes it so: is it the colour scheme or the fonts? Is the navigation clumsy or out-of-date? You don’t have to be a web design expert to do this, but it will give you a head start in looking for a web developer to solve these problems.

Next, prioritise your “wishlist”, which may be a combination of specific points, e.g. improving the layout and more general needs e.g. “I want to drive more business to my website”. Once you have this, you have a brief which a web developer can use to work out the web services needed and how to achieve the desired results. Since the list is prioritised, when it comes to obtaining quotes for the work, you can decide how much is achievable within your timeframe and budget.

Choosing the right person

Do you need a web designer, web developer or programmer? The terms may all sound similar, but there are distinct differences in the work they do and therefore what you can expect from their web services for your site.

A web designer focuses primarily on the appearance or look and feel of the website, including the layout. A good web designer should be an expert in making websites visually powerful and impactful and in drawing visitors to the right areas of your website. Some web designers combine their services with graphic design, so if you have a new look and feel branding on your website, they can incorporate it for you on company letterheads and business cards too.

A web programmer focuses more on functionality. He or she might program solely for the web or may do software programming too. The programmer’s concern is getting features of your website to work. Examples may include building an online intranet or database application, where information can be stored on your database and manipulated via your website. In larger companies, these roles are often split so that programmers work on the “back end” – the features that make a website work and then apply the “front end” created by a web designer to make the site more attractive.

A web developer muddies the water considerably, sorry. Web developers can incorporate elements of design and programming. Web development is a broader term for getting a website online and making it work. You can expect a good web developer to have an eye to both the appearance and functionality of the website.

Is Your Web Host Your Friend? 8 Ways to Find Out

Your Web Hosting Provider Is Your Online Partner.

The web hosting company you choose to store your web site and provide access to the world wide web SHOULD be your friend – your business partner. In fact, your web host SHOULD put your interests first. After all, if your web business soars to success, your web host shares in that success with a stable client base.

If you’re hitting a home run with your URL, you aren’t going anywhere. You’ll stick with the host, the keywords, the site architecture – you won’t want to change. You’re a web success so don’t rock the boat.

Ah, but how do you know if your web host is truly your friend or just a service provider that charges your business credit card every three months. It’s not always easy to tell, but you can tell a lot by looking around a little before you sign up.

1. How long has the hosting company been around?

Look for a long history of web-based success. Look for a company that’s been delivering hosting services for more than 10 years and has management in place to handle an expanding client base efficiently.

A provider that looks after its clients sticks around and a company management with years of experience knows how to treat clients. They even know how to help clients achieve web success – something good for the client and good for the host – a win-win.

And good management knows that.

2. Does the web host kick you to more expensive pricing tier to get more disk space?

You rent disk space from your provider. Most hosts have pricing tiers based on the amount of disk space you take up on the server ( a server is nothing more than a big ol’ hard drive that has a bunch of web sites stored on it) and what “features” you’re willing to pay for.

Some hosts think it’s unfair to force you to pay more for space and features that you don’t need or intend to use. So, many top hosts have created a system that allows you to grow at your own pace without paying for a few more gigabytes that you won’t use, even though you’re paying an extra $50 a year for that dead zone.

Instead, buy space a gig at a time. And when it IS time to move up big time, you move to the next tier and actually save money. A good web host knows what’s good for web site owners, and these hosts customize their services to suit you, not the other way around.

So grow fast. Grow slow. A good provider will work with you every step of the way. The less-friendly providers don’t do this. You want more disk space, you move up to the next pricing tier, whether you need all that extra space or not. In other words, you’re wasting cash and when you’ve got a “penny jar” budget, every penny counts.

3. Does your web host offer free SSL security?

If you’re selling products or services, or if you’re collecting sensitive customer data (like credit card numbers) you need a secure web site – one that sends and receives data that’s encrypted so hackers can’t steal it and use it to buy and sell stolen stuff bought on the web.

A web host that DOESN’T much care about the success of your business will make you obtain your own SSL certification to create a secure web site capable of taking and keeping secure sensitive client data. And that costs money.

On the other hand, a web host that’s rooting for your success helps you achieve that success by letting you piggyback on their SSL certification. Your server is secure so your site is secure, thanks to a friendly web host and a pro-active partner in your success.

4. Does your web host require you to sign a long-term contract?

That tells you something right there. These companies want to lock you in for three months, six months, a year, knowing that you might not hit that home run. Even so, you’ll be paying those hosting fees for the full term of the contract.

If your web host is your friend – a partner that delivers value – there’s no need for a long-term contract. No need for any contract at all. Buy your server space and your features a month at a time. As you grow, you can add more space. Or, if you move on to something else, a client centric host isn’t going to FORCE you to keep paying for services you no longer need.

What kind of friend is that?

5. Real People Helping Real People

If you’re just starting out in the web world and launching your first e-venture, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone you could call with questions? Someone with endless patience? Someone who recognizes that your web success is the basis of the web host’s success?

And you want access to that friend, or a friendly, helpful sub, 24/7. You want someone to explain how to install a blog or to walk you through installing a secure checkout – one-step-at-a-time, even if it takes all night. (it won’t.)

A provider that wants to be friends offers that level of service for as little as seven bucks a month! Web hosts that are less “friendly” limit access to certain hours, they make you pay for the call and some don’t even have telephone customer or tech support. If you have a question or problem, you have to drop the web hosting company an e-mail and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, your web site isn’t getting built and your waiting for a long-distance email response from tech support – and guaranteed, 50% of the time the email answer doesn’t solve the problem.

Do a little research before you register your web site domain name and sign a long-term contract. Any new venture is a risk so work with a company that puts you first, answers questions (even the really stupid ones), provides downloadable guides to help you build and manage a quality web site.

Is your provider your friend? Well, not if they nickel-and-dime you to death. Not if they sell your email address to every “blue pill” pharmacy west of Beijing. Not if they lock you into a contract for a year.

Web Hosting Trends

If you’re just starting out in the world of the Internet and the world-wide-web, welcome to the fastest growing, most competitive and most exciting marketplace in the history of buying and selling. By definition, web hosting is a type of service that gives individuals and organizations the opportunity to make their own web site accessible via the world wide web. So, if you want to setup a web site on the Internet, you will need a web host. But after a quick search in Google, you will see that making the choice as to which type of web hosting you will need for your web site is no easy task.

Spend a little time searching the web and you’ll find a gazillion web hosting providers, review sites, data centers, collocation facilities, and even a company that offers domain name registration by a hunter of African elephants. They make it sound easy to build a profitable web business, but wake-up-call time: building a profitable, web-based business takes hard work, long hours and, most importantly, careful planning and selection of the right vendors. Sure, your neighbor brags about the dough she’s raking in on her maintenance-free web site, or your brother-in-law just bought a fancy car on his PPC earnings. People do earn money on the web, but it isn’t luck or good karma. It’s planning for success and if you’re just starting to think about taking the digital dive in to the world of the Internet, consider these questions and, oh yeah, develop the answers before you spend a penny on your vision.

Top 10 Web Hosting Trends:

    1. Green web hosting – Green or Eco-friendly web site hosting is a contemporary addition to the field that involves a given provider attempting to prove that they do not have negative impacts on the environment. Many webmasters are moving their web sites to a green web hosting provider not only to reduce their carbon footprint, but also to prove to their visitors that their company values the environment and is respectful to it.
    1. Cloud hosting – Cloud computing provides on-demand resources via a computer network and offers computation, software, data access, and storage services that do not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system that delivers the services. Parallels to this concept can be drawn with the electricity grid, where end-users consume power without needing to understand the component devices or infrastructure required to provide the service.
    1. VPS hosting – VPS hosting or Virtual Private Server hosting refers to a virtual machine for use exclusively by an individual customer of the service. A virtual machine is a completely independent and isolated operating system installation within a normal operating system. VPS hosting allows customers who need a dedicated machine and root access but are not yet ready to pay the large investment required for a dedicated machine.
    1. Carbon neutral hosting – Carbon neutral hosting refers to a service that has a net zero carbon footprint and allows webmasters the opportunity to achieve net zero carbon emissions resulting from the hosting of their online pages.
    1. Wind powered hosting – Wind powered web hosting refers to web hosting services that use wind energy from wind turbines, for example, converted into electricity.
    1. Solar powered web hosting – Solar powered refers to web hosting that is powered by radiant light and heat from the sun as opposed to traditional electricity.
    1. Joomla hosting – Joomla is an increasingly popular open-source content management system for publishing content on the world wide web. Joomla easily integrates with themes and extensions that are available from third-party sources that make designing and developing a sophisticated yet aesthetically pleasing web site simple. There are numerous commercial extensions available from the official Joomla! Extension Directory and quite a bit more available from other sources. Many providers offer the installation of Joomla on their accounts for no additional charge, but be fore-warned that not many provider have adequate experience needed in order to provide support to clients who are developing their site with Joomla.
    1. WordPress hosting – WordPress is an open-source blogging tool that is used by nearly thirteen percent of all web sites on the Internet. It is an easy to learn and use tool that makes setting up a web site simple due to its plug-in architecture and template system.
    1. Drupal hosting – Drupal is an open-source content management system that provides web developers the tools needed to customize Drupal’s behavior and appearance. Drupal offers a futuristic programming interface for developers, and no programming skills are required for basic web site installation and administration, but it is more complex than Joomla and WordPress. Drupal powers nearly two percent of all web sites on the Internet. Drupal offers modules, themes, and associated configuration settings that prepare Drupal for custom operation for sophisticated web developers.
  1. Reseller hosting – Reseller hosting refers to a provider that has purchased services with the intention of reselling them. Because of the multitude of resellers in the web hosting industry, it has become more difficult to differentiate a reseller from a web hosting provider that has their own dedicated servers. Reseller hosting has become increasingly popular as a means to generate income for web design firms.

Choosing a new web host for a redesign project

Many companies are re-designing their web site to remain competitive, to simplify the navigation and provide visitors with a more user-friendly experience. By redesigning a web site, companies have the opportunity to remain more competitive and stay current with new technology. And by offering a better web site – voila – simpler navigation, simpler search for a specific item may lead to increased sales or leads. Yep, even the most successful sites are constantly revising their look, the organization and the ease-of-use for site visitors.

Web site redesign tips

Your web site navigation should be simple, straightforward and 100% functional. Labels should be clearly understood by any site visitor. Assume no knowledge on the part of the people who visit your on-line business site. They may not have any knowledge of your business and you have only a few seconds to engage a visitor and create interest in your brand before the visitor can hit the back button and exit your site.

When designing your site, place yourself in the position of the first-time visitor and configure your site for that prospect. Hey, if it worked for Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s founder)…it should work for you.