The Basics of Web Design

Website design encompasses a variety of disciplines and skills in the creation and maintenance of websites for businesses. The various disciplines of website design include graphic design; web graphic design; website user interface design; writing, including specific code and sometimes proprietary software, and interactivity, which include Search Engine Optimization (also known as SEO). The use of templates for website design allows business owners to create websites quickly without having to learn complex programming. The primary advantage of using templates for website design is that the template can be changed at any stage without having to rewrite or re-design the page. Often, a business owner is able to make changes to the template that are not available to the individual based on his or her own business needs and requirements.

Templates allow business owners to create a basic, functional website design with a defined set of features. The advantage of this approach is that the design patterns are universal, allowing all computers to use them. The disadvantage is that these designs are limited in their scope and cannot usually be customized. Templates can also often be difficult to update, especially those developed using complex interaction processes such as Flash and JavaScript.

Flat design patterns are different from traditional web layouts in that they are made up of flat, solid images that are arranged in a repeating pattern. The benefit of flat design patterns is that the layout can be viewed as a whole, rather than being broken down into individual panels. The major advantage of flat design patterns is that they are easy to use because the repeating patterns are the only elements of the page. However, some elements of a flat website layout can be changed, such as the background image or the color of text. In addition, many people feel that the visual appeal of flat panels is less appealing than the design of image-filled panels.

My Niece in College Will Design My Website

Having a beautifully-designed website is the bare minimum of what is required for online success. There are many technical and strategic best practices that designers often overlook. New designers and graphic artists
in general aren’t usually trained in technical areas. They are trained to design and will almost always deliver a nice looking page.

First, decide on the value of your online brand, then decide if it is worthy of professional services. There are billions of websites online and it’s likely that hundreds are those of your local competitors. Consider why your competitor’s website is showing up in search results when your website does not. Also, consider that most consumers use the web as a first resource when researching or seeking services and products. Finally, consider the number of missed opportunities created because your website is not being found or when found, it did not present a professional appearance or one that best represented and promoted your brand.

Six Important Takeaways:

Choosing a $4.99/month instant website will not deliver you business Choosing to have an inexperienced family member design your website for free or on the cheap will not deliver professional results and is not likely to generate any business or good search engine rankings. If consumers are unable to locate your website when using popular search terms (keywords) related to your business of products, why bother? Training and experience matters. There is an added value to choosing a professional and experienced online marketing expert. A well-trained webmaster will know the internet from all angles (design, usability, development, writing, structure, etc.) and an experienced professional will know what strategies and tactics are going to be best in helping you achieve online success. It doesn’t have to be costly, but it does have to cost.

Web Design Done Right Costs Money

There’s no way around the fact that if you want professional services, there is a cost. But there are creative ways to reduce costs. One option may be to barter for a professional exchange of services. Regardless, be honest about your budget so that your webmaster can help develop the best option — something that will deliver the most bang for your buck. Your webmaster cares to deliver a good product. Most online professionals want to be able to point other clients to your website as an example of their work. They also want to be able to showcase the amount and type of success they were able to help you achieve. You decide the value of your online presence.
If you aren’t achieving the results you want online, the link below points to a great Q A; an article about why getting an inexperienced family member to help you establish an online presence is not going to help. The article is specific to social media, but it’s best to give the same consideration to your business website

The Best Free Website Creators

Okay, so you have a Blog, a photostream, and maybe some crazy, only you can make products you want to sell. Perhaps you want to showcase yourself, your music, or your professional services. Maybe you want a free website! First, keep these points in mind: research the best free website creators that are right for you. Which host will provide the file space you need and the capacity you want? Who offers the best options when it comes to function and capability?
Choose a host that will let your creativity shine! You don’t want to create a website that everyone else already has.

Don’t settle for something you know you’ll outgrow. If you need a different feature than what the website host offers, keep looking.

All of these websites offer features that are out of this world, but they will charge you extra for them. Do research before signing up so you can make sure you’re getting what you expect.

My personal favorite is Weebly ( I have two websites through them! You get two free websites (you either have to own the domain name already or buy one through them) before you have to upgrade to a Pro account. It’s free! You can add Google Ad-sense in seconds and create an UNLIMITED number of pages! That’s right; you can have a HUNDRED pages if your heart desires. You can have unlimited Blogs, and it’s simple to add a photo gallery or stream from your Flickr account. If you would like to see an example of a Weebly website (this is where I plug in my little creation), go to my profile and click on my website. Try it out! This is my favorite website creator!

The next one is This is my next suggestion. They have over 300 templates, forums, and photo editing. Come to think of it, they actually offer way more than Weebly, but I have to pay my dues to my “first,” right? Anyways, they also have chat rooms, advanced HTML options (whew, I’m getting a little turned on, aren’t you?), and a member e-mail list (oh my gosh, where have you been?). Okay, try out Freewebs first, guys and girls. They totally rocked my world just now.

Next on my list is The cool thing about Doodle is that you can choose which language you want your website to be in and they also hook you up with a newsletter creator (something I desperately need. I have no idea why I went with anything else). They also help you out with SEO (search engine optimization) and bless you with IP addresses of each visitor and other fantastic statistics about your website. They also make room for a more advanced internet user with XHTML and HTML options. The coolest thing is that they allow you to create an alias e-mail address that will forward any e-mail to your real one. They are a real competitor with Freewebs in my opinion. Now for the bad news (sniff sniff). Most of these featurs will cost you extra. I know, I know! I got your hopes up…I’m sorry! They do offer a free service but also offer great “pay a little extra” features. Just make sure you do a little digging before signing up.

The greatest thing about these website creators is that they basically walk you through everything! They explain the details so even the most inexperienced internet virgin out there can manage their way into creating an awesome, personalized…and best of all FREE, website.

The Fun We’ve Had with Postcrossing

I don’t even remember how we ended up coming across it, but about two years ago, my family discovered Postcrossing. This fun website has turned into a project that our whole family can enjoy.
The concept behind Postcrossing is simple. You send a postcard to another user, with the address randomly selected by the Postcrossing computers, and include the card’s tracking number on the back of the card. Once the card arrives, the recipient gets online and enters the tracking number into the appropriate space on the Postcrossing website. Once the site has record of your postcard being received, your address is given to someone else, once again randomly selected by the computers, to have a card sent to you. The more you send, the more you will receive.

In the two years that my family and I have been Postcrossing, we have sent and received about 175 postcards each way. The postcards have come to me from all around the world. About 30 of the cards have come from within the United States. We’ve received more postcards from Finland and Germany than any other country. We’ve received cards from Australia, Japan, China, Spain… There have been so many countries that we’ve been blessed to receive cards from. As our postcards arrive, I (like many other Postcrossing members) place scanned images of each card both on the Postcrossing website and on my personal blog, giving others the opportunity to see the cards we have received.

Interestingly, we’ve received postcards from a few countries that I hadn’t even known existed before the postcards arrived in my mailbox. My kids and I have used these to our advantage, turning them into a geography lesson. Even with the countries that we do know, we often look up the countries on a map soon after the card arrives. With the newly discovered countries, we take a few moments to look into the history of the country as well as the geography.

In the long run, we plan to put the postcards into a large scrapbook, turning each page into a geography/history lesson complete with the postcards as pictures to accentuate the included information. Our collection keeps growing, and I know the project ahead of us will take some hard work but will also be rewarding once it is complete. We are already looking forward to seeing our finished project… though we’re not sure it will ever be truly complete.

Handy How-to Tips for Building a Christmas Website

With Christmas time coming up, what better time to share your favorites of the Christmas season and maybe sell a product or two via your own personal Christmas webpage? Here’s some helpful tips to get you on your way to making your own Christmas webpage.

Decide on Your Christmas Website Content

Christmas time offers the chance to share your favorite food, music, decorations, activities, gifts, events, prayers, poems, stories and more. Do a search on Christmas websites to determine the competition in the areas your Christmas website will cover. Then decide what you have new to offer or where you will specialize and why people will want to come to your website.

Build Your Search Engine Optimized Christmas Website Copy

Website copy is the explanation of what your website offers. It can include poems, wishes to friends, and soft core sales pitch about why your products have more to offer than anyone else. If you are sharing recipes, explain what recipes you will offer. If you provide a full set of offerings, be sure to offer links to additional pages and make sure all of your links have a forward and backward links.

Create a Personal Christmas Website Brand Look

Decide the colors and style your Christmas website will showcase. Thematic Christmas backgrounds, music and photographs will help set the tone for your offerings and help to establish the website brand.

Select Photos for Your Christmas Website

The photos you choose to use on your website can help set the website brand. Make sure to reduce the number of pixels in your photographs to ensure a quick load onto the page, don’t ask your customers to wait forever to have it load. Using a slide show link to Flicker can allow you to share more photos with less page load time.

Select Music for Your Christmas Website

Choose Christmas music from to play on your webpage. Music starting automatically when it loads can be slow. Pick another place to have music begin such as mousing over a menu item or when someone clicks on song of the day..

Choose Your Christmas Website Development Tool

If you’re new to website development, you may choose to create a blog from WordPress, Blogger, Squidoo or other site since most have the ability to offer the same content as a webpage. Then customize your blog with appropriate colors. An original background photograph can help set your brand look. Squidoo has the advantage of being free, will pay for advertisement hits, and offers a number of free tool enclosures that allows you to have much more content that changes often.

If you want to delve into webpage development, most of the companies that offer a domain allow you to set up your webpage for free using their in house development tools. This is one step more complicated than using a blog, but can offer different styles and layouts plus easier access to shopping cart tools.

Using one of the development suites can offer additional complexity in the number of linked pages and help you manage the overall project by ensuring that web page links are maintained and up to date. They can also ease copying the files associated with your webpage from your personal PC up to the webpage server.

Setting Up Your Christmas Website Domain Name

You can buy your own website domain name from places like or Having a domain name provides your website an easy to remember name that people can search for and find. Once you have your domain name,, you follow the directions to establish the link. Many times you have to wait a day or so before it is live.

Submit Your Christmas Website to the Search Engines

Depending on the website tool, you are provided help to submit your website to the search engines at many levels. On Yahoo, they will submit your website to some of the top search engines like Yahoo and Google for no additional cost. On, they sell the use of a tool called TrafficBlazer that helps guide you through setting up your keywords on your webpage and submitting it to the search engines.

Link to Other Christmas Websites

I started a Squidoo Lens when I was first learning, click here to view a work in progress. Please share links to your webpage if you comment, I’m happy to add new friends, and learn from others.

Computer Backups Can Save Your Life

Have you ever heard someone say that a backup ‘saved their life’? Have you ever talked to someone after their hard drive crashed, and didn’t have a backup? I talk to these types of people several times a week in my industry, and I can tell you for certain that backups are as critical as ever these days. A little bit of time taken every week can help prevent a great deal of loss. This could be a loss of not only information but very possibly irreplaceable family memories. I know, when working on website design, the last thing you want to do is backup data, but it’s vitally important.

I’ve Seen This Time and Time Again

I have been in the computer industry professionally for over 10 years now, and I still find people every single day that do not back up their data. Time and time again, people do not see the value of backups until they see their hard drive crash. And when it does crash, they do not want to hear the harsh realities of not backing up your data. Think for just a minute that if you took every document on your computer, whether at work or at home and put it into physical form. Imagine all of the pages of papers, photos, music, and movies now in their physical form. Now imagine that all of that gets burned up in a fire, never to be recovered. That is what could happen if your hard drive crashes.

There’s A lot of Moving Parts

I get a lot of questions as to why hard drives stop working so suddenly. Let’s put this into perspective here. The hard drives spin at 5400 to 10,000 rpm’s every minute they are on. Many of us leave our computers on all day, every single day. After 2-3 years, eventually, the bearings wear out, and the hard drive platters stop spinning. The best way to compare this is to run your car at 60 mph (which would only run your engine at about 3,000 rpm), 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. I bet your engine would stop working sooner than 3 years! Be glad that hard drives last as long as they do. As ‘solid-state’ drives mature, we hope to ease hard drive crashes, as they do not have any moving parts, and are just static memory chips. But even solid-state fails after some time, usually without warning.

Your Data is More Important Than the Hard Drive it’s Stored On

Some of the most memorable stories of lost data you might not believe. I had someone lose all of their legal documentation the day before a trial. I have had someone who lost several thousand dollars worth of legally purchased music online. I have had someone who thought he lost 10 years of chemical and mechanical engineering research. The only common theme with all of these people was that in the 2-3 years of working on their current computer, they never backed up their data even once. The most common excuse is that “I don’t have time”. Seeing as how a backup of your hard drive should only take a few hours at most, their perspective changed drastically after their harrowing experiences.

What you really need to realize is the true value of your data on your computer. Ask yourself how long would it take to replace all of that data? Is there some data on your computer that is irreplaceable? Of that irreplaceable information, is it personal information that will make you sad or angry, or is it business information that could make you liable? Time and time again, I have had people say that there can be no possible value placed on their computer information because that data is so critical to their livelihood.

When your hard drive crashes, there are a few options for data recovery. There are a few companies in the United States that specialize in recovering data. The cost of this data recovery can be as little as $500, but can run easily into several thousand dollars. While some people say that it’s not worth it to pay that kind of money for your information, I have had many people that do not hesitate at forking out $2,000 or more to get their information back. Just remember, even with these companies, there is never a guarantee that your data can be recovered.

Backing Up YOUR data is smart.

It is always smart to start good backup and file saving habits as soon as possible. In my personal habits at home, I have a few golden rules. First off, any large files that I am working on for more than an hour (some files I have worked on for over 40 hours) I save a different copy at least every hour I work on it, something like FILE01, then FILE02. This way, if one file gets deleted by accident, I can use another copy, and I didn’t lose all my information. Second, I have a lot of files that I use very infrequently; I store most of them on an external hard drive that I only use for an hour or two a week. When I am not using this drive, I turn it off, which will extend the life of the hard drive longer than daily nonstop operation. Third, I do backups of the rest of my main hard drive onto this external hard drive. This practice means that if I have a hard drive crash, I can restore the hard drive data in a matter of a few hours. While this may be an inconvenience for many people, a few hours of work can save a lifetime of memories.