Graphic design for the web since 1998

1-201-420-8205

"...both of my companies have enjoyed
Susan's design professionalism; wonderful
work that absolutely and clearly reflects
the intentions of the client..." - Florence P.

When to use Websites, Blogs, Administrations and How to Customize Them

When clients approach me to design a website or blog, first we discuss what type of company they are and what is the purpose of this new website. Is it just informational, so when people are searching on Google or Yahoo, they'll come up, or are they selling a product? Do they want me to maintain the site for them, monthly, or do they need an administration area, having the ability to add content themselves? Are they an artist or photographer and want to protect their work from being downloaded and used?

Below I have listed some details to consider and a few resources:

Assembling what you'll need. If your company has a logo and print marketing materials, such as business cards, postcards and a brochure, this will be helpful to see. These can be either mailed or pdf files can be sent through email. The reason for seeing these items is because it gives me an understanding of your tastes, color palette preferences, even typeface choices. Next you should be looking at your competition's websites. Seeing what's out there is always helpful in knowing if you've covered all the topics you'll need, as well as seeing how they've chosen to design their sites. Lastly, make a list of the sites you've come across and like. If you can provide a few sample sites, even if in a completely different industry, I start to see common themes, colors, styles and I have a clear idea of how to design something that will be right on target for you alone.

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Understanding what Hosting and Domain names are. Okay, so you need a website to promote yourself or your company. So many people just do not understand what hosting and having a domain name mean. Let's use me as an example, my name is Susan Newman, so I want someone to type into Google my name and my website will come up. So my domain name might be SusanNewman(dot)com. Now of course that was taken when I first wanted a website, so I settled for SusanNewmanDesign(dot)com. Since then I have registered many names, like this site's name, WebDesignNJNY(dot)com. Now, once you have a name you'll need a host, so the name becomes active. (Picture buying a cell phone, it looks great, but until you pay someone to turn it on, it won't work.) So, always remember, you need both a name for your site and someplace to park it.

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Creating a custom designed website, manually. When I begin designs for a website, I usually design using Photoshop. I create layered files at higher resolution so the designs look good when I bring the resolution down for building the website. Once we have the approved layouts, we create template sample pages which will have a "header" area, "footer" area, "navigation" area (if it's not in the header) and main body of the page. The language of the template can vary depending on what a client requires, html, asp, php, cfm, but most people prefer php or html. From the sample body template I would create each individual page of your website. This means that each time a page is to edited, it must be opened in a software program like "Dreamweaver," edited, and uploaded manually to your hosted space.

Green Press Initiative is committed to advancing sustainable patterns of production and consumption within the U.S. book and newspaper industries and within the paper industry at large. GPI also advances policy innovations related to paper and climate change and recycling and incubates pioneering new strategies for market transformation.

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Creating a custom designed website with a custom installed administration. After the designs are approved, I supply my programming team with my Photoshop layouts. They build the templates like we discussed above, but they also build a backend administration. The administration is an area you log into through a browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari. Once in this area, it gives you a simple way of selecting the page you'd like to update, and has a content tool bar much like Microsoft Word does, for highlighting text with "bold" or "italic" and icons for adding a link, etc... Once you save the changes, it is automatically updated live on the website. There is only one template (or multiple page templates to choose from, depending on the site's design; maybe the homepage and interior pages are different designs) that loads all the different page's content. The only place there are individual pages is in that administration. Some examples of administrations we've used are: Concrete5, and Sunfox Systems.

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Adding E-commerce to your custom designed site. Following some of the above steps, now we build an e-commerce area using something like, OS Commerce. Just like logging into your administration for your website's pages, you can also log in to your product area. Here you would have the ability to add, edit or delete a product photo, manage the description, pricing, sizing, colors, coupons, sale items, and more.

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Creating a custom designed blog using free content management systems like Wordpress. Now let's say you're a start-up company or individual and just can't afford all the bells and whistles for a site like I've described above, and you still want to be the adminstrator and update the site yourself. I highly recommend creating a custom blog. We can use something like "Wordpress" and it can be installed right in your hosted space. It works just like having a blog on the blog's hosted space, except it's loaded into your own hosted space. For example: using myself again, I'd rather not have a site who's address is SusanNewman.wordpress(dot)com. So I just load the already built application right onto my host and when someone opens SusanNewman(dot)com, it's there. Now, if you want a custom design, which I recommend, rather than choosing a template, we follow the principles mentioned before in installing the new design and making it work with "Wordpress." This works very well and I have created quite a few already for playwrights, theatre companies, environmental and green companies.

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When or why to use Flash animation. We see Flash animation all over the place. When I first started designing websites, everybody wanted Flash. Moving concepts, imagery, advertisements, banners, buttons and more. Now mostly I hear, I don't want any. Flash definitely has it's advantanges, if used properly. Many artists and photographers use Flash so all their imagery is contained in a movie file and makes downloading an individual photo, harder. Sometimes Flash is the answer when you have a limited space in which to display more than one message and this gives the option of frames within the same space, for multiple thoughts. To just explain what Flash is and can be used for: Flash is a software program that let's us create movie files. Within these movie files you can ad text, imagery, graphics, music or sounds, and live action film importing Quicktime. Flash can be a great format to use so that both Mac and PC viewers can see it, unlike Window Media Player that cannot be seen on the Mac.

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Combinations of HTML, PHP and/or Flash animation. Depending on what your site needs various types of languages can be used on the same website. You can have Flash on your opening page, an administration to control your content, with the site being in php. You can add other pages if you want that are html by uploading them manually. Most combinations are possible and each site that comes along is different, needing whatever it takes to be right for that website to work. What's most important is to know what's right for you and we'll customize it for your needs.