crow hill web design
web design

Responsive Design

As of 2015, 51% (and growing) of all surfing was done on a mobile device. A non-responsive website is generally difficult to view on anything but a desktop system. If your target market is between the ages of 3 to 70 (soon 2 to 150), consider a responsive site.

A clean, simple one-design site can be viewed all on screens. However, a complicated site may need a second design made specifically for the phone. In that case, code automatically redirects the viewing device to the mobile site where page elements have been eliminated or simplified to reduce battery drain and improve download times.

Responsive design is more expensive to create than static design, but your users will be happy with the result.

Static Design

If you want a complicated site and are not worried about view-screen sizes, consider static design. Static website designs are WYSIWYG.

Static websites are excellent for presenting information. They can be as complicated or as simple as you desire and the options for truly artistic elements is nearly unlimited.

Back in the Stone Age static sites were the only thing available. Despite not being in "style" anymore, there are still some sites that lend themselves more to static than responsive.

Static websites aren't really static. They move, educate, enrich, and entertain. They are limited only by imagination.

Dynamic Design

Dynamic websites are a good choice for e-commerce sites because all the products are drawn from a database. A few base pages are designed and then populated by product clicks.

That comes at a cost. Hosting for a dynamic site is more expensive than a static site. Setup is also more expensive because of all the coding involved. The artistic possibilities of static sites are sometimes limited on dynamic sites.

Most dynamic sites are built on a host's templates, and they look it too. I use Business Catalyst (BC) to create custom dynamic sites. I build the master pages in Dreamweaver and import them into BC. The text and images on the page are populated from a database. It's still a lot of work, but I think the end result is superior to a template site.

Animation

Flash is gasping out its last breath. Chrome and Firefox recently reported they would no longer support Flash on any of their browsers in the near future.

What is there to replace the beautiful, intricate animations that were possible in Flash? There's Javascript but some people turn off Javascript, especially on their phones, to prolong battery life.

Edge animation is Javascript-based and is subject to the same limitations.

But CSS animation, while not as powerful as either Flash or Javascript, barely affects a phone battery. I used it on this site for the logo animation. Care must be taken not to overdo animation of any kind or the site becomes unviewable, but for a multitude of cool animation effects, let's talk about CSS.

Audio & Video

If Flash is dead, what can be used for audio & video? New elements found in HTML5.

A simple audio player can be embedded in a site using the audio element. The default audio player works great although the controls are limited, but custom controls can be included with additional coding. I prefer to use a jquery Dreamweaver extension audio player with numerous options, such as the ability to include CD covers and track information. The player can be completely customized to match the look of the site.

Because browsers support different audio types (because they wouldn't want to make this too easy), it's important to include at least three different kinds of files formats: MP3, Ogg, and WAV. Video files must be set up separately because the audio element has no way to display video.

A simple video player can be embedded in a site using the video element. The default video player has limited controls, but some additional controls can be included with custom coding. DOM methods, properties, and events can be defined. HTML5 players don't require a plug-in. Old browsers that do not support the video element will display a simple non-support message, but no message requesting they download a plug-in will appear. The video element also supports any built-in audio.

Because browsers support different media types, it's important to include at least three different kinds of files formats: MP4, WebM, and Ogg.

Only one file type of video or audio needs to be supplied because I have the ability to convert most types to the three I need.

SEO

In the past SEO meant impressing Google's computer algorithm. When Google felt people had learned the algorithms too well, they were changed. Currently Google is grading on site content so text is important. Great keywords will still help a customer find your site, but Google no longer uses keywords as a way to rank a site.

AdWords will not help site rank. I think AdWords is money wasted. People bid on popular keywords, pay Google to appear at the top of the page, and pay every time someone clicks on their ads, whether or not they make a sale, and all with limited results. Only 18% of the people surfing for a site will click on a paid ad.

There are numerous articles claiming that Google-style SEO is dead. I don't think it's dead, but it does have the flu. So what’s the best way to go?

Customers are interested in the opinions of real people about the value of products found on a site. Social-site comments, unlike testimonials, can't be manufactured. If people see good social-site comments, they are more apt to shop. Instagram or Facebook are two places to get exposure, but every niche will have social sites that help customers find what they are looking for. Determine the one(s) best targeted to your niche and sign up. Social sites must be maintained and updated regularly with new comments or developments in your products, so make sure you have the time to do so. Social sites augment but do not replace your website. Icon links between them are used.

Google is trying to play catchup with this new trend and they will probably come out with something soon. Until then, social sites rule.