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Website & Graphic Designs

Below you will find answers to some of the graphic and website design questions our clients have asked in the past as well as some questions you may need answers to. We hope you find them useful.

Conceptualization, planning, modelling and execution of electronic media content and its delivery via the internet using technologies (such as markup language) suitable for rendering and presentation by web browsers or other web-based graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

Graphic Design is the process and art of combining text and graphics to communicate an effective message in the design of logos, graphics, brochures, newsletters, posters, signs, and any other type of visual communication. Today's graphic designers use desktop publishing software, such as the Adobe Creative Suite and a variety of digital techniques to achieve their goals.

Also Known As:

  • graphic arts
  • graphics design
  • visual communications
  • desktop publishing

A collection of web pages, images, videos or other digital assets that is hosted on one or more web servers, usually accessible via the Internet.

A document (or file), usually written in HTML, that is almost always accessible via HTTP, a protocol that transfers information from the web server to display in the user's web browser.

Static (or HTML) websites are generally hard coded by a web designer or web developer and have "stationary" pages that don't change everytime they are visited. Most content (unless third party script is included) remains "static" until it is manually updated by a web designer or coder.

Static websites tend to be cheaper to design and develop but more costly to update as owners who do not know HTML code will need to hire a web designer every time they need to make changes. Static websites often become dormant if their owners cannot afford to pay for updates.

Dynamic websites are compiled of various components, scripting languages (such as PHP, ASP, JSP) and a database, and can be modified by the end user (the client) on their own computer. Dynamic websites usually have a lot more functionality than a static website and are interactive.

Dynamic websites are more costly to develop, especially for proprietary content management systems, but after the initial development fees, they are usually cheaper to update.

CMS is the abbreviation for content managed system and is software that has been developed to enable website owners to easily and quickly update their content without having to know HTML code or needing to contact their website designer to do it for them. CMSs are used to run dynamic websites.

Most web hosting companies offer CMS applications, such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal, OpenCart, osCommerce and ZenCart (for online stores), with their economy hosting packages, making dynamic websites much more affordable. Many also offer low cost or free templates that you can use with your CMS package.

Third party websites also offer a variety of Open Source CMS templates, add-ons and plug-ins that you can easily upload and install to your current CMS package at no extra cost, and hundreds of premium themes are available for a small fee.

You don't need to customize these templates before adding your content, but if you want your website to be unique, to stand out from the crowd and/or to match your print material, you will need it customized.

Responsive web design is a method of designing websites that enables optimal viewing in multiple devices and at various screen resolutions, from desktop computers to the smallest smart phones. RWD uses flexible images and a fluid layout with percentages or proportional grids which adapt to the device on which the responsive website is viewed. Media queries are used to define different style rules in the CSS (cascading style sheet).

A responsive website takes longer and costs more to develop than a fixed width website, especially those with complex layouts and design elements, but with today's ever increasing use of mobile devices, a responsive website will be available to a much wider audience and is well worth the initial investment.

See the benefits of a responsive website here

"Web development is a broad term for any activity related to developing a web site for the World Wide Web or an intranet. This can include e-commerce business development, web design, web content development, client-side/server-side scripting, and web server configuration. However, among web professionals, "web development" usually refers only to the non-design aspects of building web sites, e.g. writing markup and coding. Web development can range from developing the simplest static single page of plain text to the most complex web-based internet applications, electronic businesses, or social network services.

For larger businesses and organizations, web development teams can consist of hundreds of people (web developers). Smaller organizations may only require a single permanent or contracting webmaster, or secondary assignment to related job positions such as a graphic designer and/or Information systems technician. Web development may be a collaborative effort between departments rather than the domain of a designated department."

Source: Wikipedia (March 26th, 2009)

Your website, and ultimately your business, will be taken more seriously if your website looks professsional. Like your business card, your website is often the first thing your potential clients see.

If your website looks cheap or home-made, what impression does it give your potential clients?

It is important to give potential clients, as well as your regular clients who've never seen your website, the right impression when they visit your website for the first time. If not, they may never revisit and, worse still, they won't buy from you. Read the 8 reasons why your business needs a website.

Meta descriptions are added to the background coding in the head section of each page of your website. They primarily serve three purposes:

  • An accurate descriptive summary of your web page content
  • A concise text advertisement for your page in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)
  • Emphasis of targeted keywords used by searchers to display the contents of your site

Meta descriptions help drive traffic to your website, and like your web content may ultimately determine the success of your website as a marketing tool for your business.

Good meta descriptions are, however, just as difficult to write as the content of your website or the text for a good ad, but because they help generate traffic to your web site it is important to include them on your website. Google recommends the following:

  • Unique descriptions for each page on your site
  • Give facts about the content on the page that are not represented in the title
  • Make sure they are easy to read
  • Make sure your descriptions are quality and represent the content on the page
  • Dynamic sites can dynamically generate descriptive meta descriptions easily

You can improve your site's ranking, branding & click through rates. Just follow the recommendations given by Google

  • Use different descriptions for different pages
  • Include clearly tagged facts in your descriptions
  • Programmatically generate descriptions
  • Use quality descriptions

A site map is like the contents page of a book: it lists the title of each section and sub-section (the pages) of your website. Unlike a book, however, each item listed in the site map contains a hyperlink to the corresponding page.

Site maps are therefore particularly useful on websites with several sections and pages as they give visitors an idea of the content as well as enabling them to navigate to pages that are not listed in the main navigation menu bars. A sitemap that includes the full URL to each page also enables search engines to index your website's content which is important for search engine optimization.

The length of time it takes to create a fully functional website is based on several factors. Custom design work can take anywhere from 1 – 4 weeks, depending on the complexity of the design and the number of revisions you require. The development phase requires an additional 1 – 6 weeks, depending on the number of pages, and the functionality required. Of course, these are general guidelines, and we will make every effort to meet the timeframe you have in mind.

We are a WordPress shop. Nearly all of our clients’ site use it as the CMS, although some use custom PHP.

We also specialize in XHTML, CSS and Flash, but are very experienced with JavaScript, DHTML, XML, PHP, and others. Although it’s unlikely, if there’s something we can’t do, we can reach out to our network of partners for additional services (at no additional cost to you).

Absolutely! In fact, we encourage it. We build your website on our development server, and provide you with a username and password so that you can log in and monitor the progress of your site. During this phase, we encourage your feedback if something isn’t quite the way you envisioned it or if you’ve changed your mind. Once your site is ready and you have provided your approval, we release it live on your server and submit your URL to the major search engines.

For small projects, 50% of the estimated fee must be provided prior to beginning work, with the remaining payment due upon completion of the project. For larger projects, an initial payment representing one-third of the estimated total fee is required. The second payment is required upon the halfway point, with the final third due upon completion of the project.

Yes. Our web design and development service includes configuration of your email accounts, detailed monthly traffic reports and basic search engine optimization services. Basic SEO includes submission of your site to the major search engines, and the setup of your primary metatag information (Page Title, Description and Keywords). Additionally, your site is built from the ground up with search engine friendly technologies and methods.

A’awa Consult offers three options for maintaining and refreshing your site content. We don’t care which option you choose, but we strongly encourage you to update your site regularly.

  • The Pay as You Go Plan: Call us when you need to add to or make a change to your content. We’ll complete your request within 48 hours, and bill you at our standard hourly rate. Urgent requests can generally be completed within a few hours for an additional charge.
  • Ongoing Maintenance Plan: Sign up for one of our ongoing maintenance plans, and you’ll receive a discount on our standard rates.
  • Content Management System (CMS): Purchase a Content Management System from A’awa Consult and make all the changes you want. Perfect if your site requires frequent updates.

General & Web Hosting

Below you will find answers to some of the web hosting and general questions our clients have asked in the past as well as some questions you may need answers to. We hope you find them useful.

Web hosting is the service of storing data that keeps websites up and running for users. Every single website that is online has a host server, and almost all use a web host to manage that storage. Not all web hosts provide the same level of quality, though. Uptime, and data speed and quantity of transfer are the best measures of a host’s success. You can often pay more to get data transferred in higher quantities, faster. Most web hosts offer unlimited bandwidth and disk space at a speed that is perfectly fine for small-to-moderate sized businesses or individuals. For companies with burdensome websites, they may need to seek out a more advanced web host.

A shared web hosting service is an agreement whereby each user gets a certain portion of total available resources. Multiple domains are hosted by the same server, which means that the server’s capabilities are split between multiple domains. This means that these websites will not experience as robust of performance as a website that has a dedicated server applying all of its resources solely to one website. If requests come in for multiple websites on the same server simultaneously, the server will only be able to transfer so much information at a single time. For low-bandwidth websites, the delays will often be unnoticeable, but for more burdensome websites, the delay can be significant.

A domain name is the actual name of a website, and every single website has a domain name. To obtain one, you need to purchase it through a domain registrar. Domains can cost anywhere from a few dollars a year to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, based on the contract and popularity of the domain. Every domain name is actually pointing to an IP (Internet Protocol) address, which is a series of numbers. Because most people can’t remember 10 digits in perfect order, domain names serve as easily-remembered alias for visitors. Probably the best known domain name is google.com, and Google’s IP address is… which is easier for you to remember?

Bandwidth is the amount of data that is accessed while viewing a website. Every time a user views a website, data is transferred, and the measurement of that transfer is bandwidth. In general, images, audio files and video files are higher in bandwidth than text. That means that if you have a more burdensome website in terms of bandwidth – if you have lots of video or streaming audio, for example – you have a higher bandwidth requirement than someone with a simple text-only website, or someone with only a few low-resolution images. Some web hosts offer unlimited bandwidth, and some place a cap on it.

Disk space refers to the total space available for a user to store files on at any time. Files may be any type - HTML, images, videos – and at any single given time, the total file size may not exceed the disk space. How much disk space you need is dependent on what type of media and interactions you’ll be hosting through your site. Your email account’s storage is also counted in disk space, so if you have large files that will sit in the account, that will boost your disk space needs. Remember that although you might not need much space now, you want wiggle room to expand and grow in the future, without switching hosts.

You can find out how many people visited your site through a number of different third party resources, such as Google Analytics or StatCounter. Some hosts provide easy ways to incorporate these tools into your website to start tracking, but some don’t give you any help in setup at all. It’s important that businesses install some sort of traffic counting tool on every page of a site and regularly decipher the data to make improvements to marketing and sales plans. For personal websites, traffic counters are merely tools of curiosity, but the numbers certainly are fun to keep an eye on!

When you purchase an account with a web host, one of the services you receive is a certain number of dedicated email accounts for any domain hosted on that account. Some web hosts give you one email account, or 20 email accounts, or unlimited email accounts. Those email accounts are managed from the control panel of the web host and you can set up email accounts, change their passwords, and set up email forwarders, all from that control panel. You can also set up a dedicated email account to send from a web-based email service like gMail or an offline service like Outlook.

This is an abbreviation for Secure Sockets Layer. This is a common protocol used to communicate information securely online. This protocol provides a safe path that runs between two Internet-connected machines or two machines on the same internal network. It is an extremely handy tool used by web browsers who need to connect securely to a web server, given the wild insecurity inherent in the Internet. SSL usually operates and sets up a secure session with little or no interaction from the person actually visiting the web site. You may notice the browser displaying a padlock or the address showing a padlock and a green bar – those are the hallmarks of SSL doing its magic.

Unfortunately, the short answer is that without adding in some level of protection, your site is probably not protected from hackers. Some web hosts give you that added protection, and some don’t. For example, some web hosts provide SiteLock Security, which works hard to block hackers and spammers. If you are using WordPress, your site is inherently more secure than many, but it is still extremely important to install plugins focused on boosting security.

You can – and should! – back up your website regularly. From the control panel, there should be a Backup function, and with one click, you can save all of your files, if they are under 500 MB. If they total more than that, you will need to save your databases in partitions. To back up your website, is also as simple as through FTP simply dragging your PUBLIC.html folder over to your computer and copying the files in that way. You will not back up your email accounts like that, though. If you have doubts about your web host’s security, you can set up an email forwarder and have everything duplicated in an online email service like gMail or an offline one like Outlook.

In order to choose a hosting package that will fit your needs, begin by thinking about the goals of your business. The biggest differentiators between hosting packages are the size of disk space, monthly data transfer, number of emailboxes and tools such as open source applications and programming languages. After you determine how you plan to use your site and the amount of traffic you expect on your site, you'll be able to identify which package is best for your business.

  • Essential Hosting package is designed for small business owners who want a simple online presence. Websites with this package might include basic content with limited multimedia and blog usage. Interaction with customers occurs mainly through easy forms or a simple blog.
  • Professional Hosting package is designed for small- to medium- sized businesses whose websites contain sizable dynamic content, such as numerous multimedia files. Interaction with customers occurs through complex forms, robust blogs and frequent site visits.
  • Premium Hosting package is designed for small- to medium- sized businesses that want to manage multiple large, high-traffic websites on a single platform. These websites would include multimedia files and various dynamic interactions with customers.
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