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Web Development – Boon for Small Businesses

Nothing has revolutionized this earth so much as the wide world of web. This invisible technological and digital force has made this whole world as one small global village through its amazing inter personal communication skills. Nobody ever imagined that what started off as a military program could revolutionize mankind in such a large scale. Internet has made a very steep and quick leap and it has become a part of every household and business concerns world wide.

So how did this wide world of web grow into such a big network? Initially the internet was used for email purposes and for general information purposes for the government policies and other things. Slowly this utility started growing into personal web sites and business promotion web sites. Then the social web sites increased the viewer traffic and today the whole world communicates laughs and even cries over the internet and not to mention the online weddings and divorces.

Today internet serves as the universal shopping mall and an open arena for all business concerns. Web sites serve as their formal office room through which they open up to the whole world. These web sites like the real offices are designed and equipped according to the individual preferences. Just like business promotion web promotion is done to popularize the web sites to get many viewers to see and appreciate it or for that matter purchase the products or services promoted by it.
Some of the main web development tools are web design, client side coding, server side coding, web server, content management and development and e-commerce shopping cart for business development etc. so web development is a combination of multiple functions and generally a team work is need to accomplish the task of promoting and developing a web site. A web master is usually the one who is into this web development work.

Many online web development tools are available to facilitate and quicken the task of the web masters. Today anyone with very little web designing skill can design the layout of the web page, the content and extra features and actually start rolling it out in the free domains with no cost at all. But when you really want to start a proper and profitable business online a professionally designed web site can be the best bet.

Professionally designed web sites might be a very costly affair but it is a good one time investment. Many web designers undertake to even maintain the web site and so there will be very little work for you regarding the maintenance of the site. Online business is fast catching up and more and more people turn to shop online as it is time saving and cost effective. Moreover they are exposed to a wide range of products and it is easy to compare prices and the quality. Thus web promotion has also become a very good money making business opportunity for all who have both the skill and creativity to provide the client with the type of design he needs and also what the viewer might possibly like.

Web Design and Conversion Go Hand in Hand For a Small Business Website

Many small and local businesses define a website as just a catolog, or something that is used to provide background info about a business or services… And just in-case your wondering…That is a “official” definition!

But I couldn’t disagree more with this! Let me tell you why…

A website, in my opinion, should be defined as a physical entity that is used to engage full-on interaction with potential clients, customers, members etc. The only difference that you see from both definitions is the “interaction” part.

Interaction today is the only thing that separates us from a Web 1.0 world to now a web 2.0 world!

The internet today is all about getting your prospects to interact and take action and if you can’t do this you will loose them right off your page… usually reffed to as “bounce rate”.

The good news for small businesses who know this, is that most companies are still stuck in a Web 1.0 world giving you the upper hand!

Where interaction and personality didn’t matter…

The goals you should have for your website today include:

1. Capturing them as a lead
2. Getting them to join a newsletter or mailing list
3. Filling out some type of form
4. Having them pick up the phone and call you
5. Or having them go join you on another site to create trust with you

I assure you that if you put these as priorities for your web site design you will be light years ahead of the small business who still have traditional catalog and digital brochure websites that don’t have any visible call-to-action.

In closing I encourage you to take action in bringing your business online and current with a modern website that promotes all these call-to-action.

That is if you care about generating business online…

Using Retro Style in Web Design?

The last two decades have seen immense changes in web design. One of the design trends in the 1990’s was to fill in every piece of a webpage not occupied by text with animated gifs. We don’t see much of those anymore. Likewise gone are most of the sites with the long scrolling pages, jammed with a novel’s worth of text and unassociated images (and, of course, the requisite animated gifs).

The disappearance of elements like these was brought on as a result of advancements in technology, research findings, or simply because of changes in style and taste. Technology allowed new and different methods to be used. Hence, animated gifs were traded for Flash-type animation. And research demonstrated that information able to fit on a single screen–;with less content and a balance between useful images and text–;was easier for a reader to access than were five thousand lines of information on a single, scrolling page.

The last element–;trends in style and taste–;is equally (if not more) responsible for the changes in web design than the other two. For example, people find rounded corners on content elements visually appealing. There’s no research to show that this style of corner improves understanding. And though made possible through technological advancements–;CSS or JavaScript–;they were not a “technological breakthrough” by any means. So, these rounded corners are a trend, seen on many websites, and indicative of the Web 2.0 movement: a movement in design and style as much as it is a movement in web site usability.

And why not? After all, web design has much in common with other types of design, like product design, or fashion. Each of these trades either follows or creates trends in the design of their respective products. Fashion designers will try to catch the latest trends in style through the clothing they create. Product designers, likewise, are influenced by trends in popular culture when creating everything from furniture to automobiles.

Present in these other disciplines–;fashion and product design–;is the influence of previous styles and trends–;the retro movements. Designers will often turn to what was popular in the past when creating future designs.

Web design elements of the recent past are exactly what appeals to retro design. In fact, retro is concerned more with the recent past than it is other periods. And technology, especially technology greatly influenced by culture, is perfect for resurrection twenty years later. We see t-shirts with old video game slogans, like the Oregon Trail t-shirt (“You have died of dysentery”), or shirts featuring Atari 2600 game characters.

Think of the spinning 3-d ampersand, the animated gif eternally present next to most every “email me” link on pages made in the early 90’s. Today it’s considered out-of-date, clunky, and tacky. The ampersand itself is already a part of the common vernacular, so it’s not that far of a leap to see this particular element as retro.

Or what about flashing banners? They used to exist as headers, footers, and even vertical skyscrapers. As a page was loading, they pulsed in brilliant shades of neon green, orange, and pink. Designers assumed that since they were flashing, and since they were loud, users would automatically be drawn towards them. In the late 90’s, however, researchers coined the term, “banner blindness,” the tendency for viewers to ignore these banners because they quickly understood they held no relevant information, and so users became blind to them.

There were also many random elements that dropped from use over the years. There were the black and yellow construction icons displayed when a page was not yet completed, and yet was still published. There were the image swaps that surprised users with a clever graphic playing hide and seek. There were also the image-maps that linked to pages relevant (sometimes) to the portion of the image being linked. Elements such as these were common in the recent past, but haven’t been used (with purpose and by professional programmers) for a number of years.

And yet at the same time, these elements are very much a part of current web design trends, but just in different forms. We don’t see animated gifs anymore, but we do see Flash images, which spin or vibrate or pulse in some distinct way. They look more refined perhaps, more professional, but they are a new way of doing what the animated gifs had already done.

Flashing banners are also often seen in today’s websites. The advertisements, like the animation elements, look significantly more polished, but they are still in use. Gone are the bright pulsating headers, footers and skyscrapers, replaced by short videos, animation, or static, high-quality images. But what these banners have today that those of the past did not was context. Many advertising programs populate pages by drawing on the information of the content, and then produce and display ads contextually relevant. Thus, when in the past users became blind to ads because they knew the ads did not contain relevant information, they now read the ads because the information is relevant.

As for the rest of the items, they exist in one form or another (except for the “under construction” signs: we’ve become smart enough to not publish incomplete pages). The image swaps were an early interactivity mechanism, which gave the user the illusion of physically manipulating the site. A simpler method lives on when using onMouseover in CSS: changing the color of links or the appearance of images and menus when hovering a mouse over the items. And more interactive versions of image maps are still seen in some Flash animations.

But the true spirit of retro is not simply in the use of elements with past ancestry, but in the bringing back of those ancestors. After all, any type of design can look back to some origin. Cars today are loosely based on cars of the 1950’s. They all have some things in common. It’s when the designer purposely draws on those older designs when creating contemporary designs that retro occurs. It’s when designers try to make something look like something older.

What retro does not do, though, is use the older design techniques. Retro, after all, is not an appreciation of the recent past, but the reclamation of the recent past. In the Southwestern United States, architecture similar to pueblo or adobe style architecture is very popular. But architects don’t use adobe or vigas in their building; they use frame and stucco. Similarly, a fashion designer basing a dress on the designs of the roaring 20’s wouldn’t use cotton, wool or silk, but instead would utilize nylon, spandex, or a combination of synthetics and natural materials.

So while past web design elements have evolved and transformed, they haven’t yet been used. And why and where would they be used anyway?

Previous web elements–;retro elements–;point to the time in which they were used, and to the age of both the users and the technology. Just as t-shirts with characters from Atari 2600 games remind current “gamers” of their roots, these past elements remind us what the web used to be: a simpler place with a lot of potential. They help us relive or remember the period when it was okay to not only use tables, but to display table borders.

Further, retro design is used to create a feeling of detached nostalgia. This is often laced with a dark sense of humor about the serious or complicated episodes of the time we’re recalling. The true and serious threat of nuclear annihilation in the 1950’s was repackaged as “atomic cocktails” in later decades. It wasn’t that the threat did not exist, but it doesn’t exist now. So, drawing on lessons from other types of design, we can assume that the tossed aside elements of the past will be used again, but they will be a different instantiation than before. The animated, 3-d ampersand will appear, but not as an animated gif. Instead we will see a new version of the old design (maybe a flash animation of a twirling, 3-d @?). It may seem tacky and cheesy, but that cheese is the very reason to use it. The designer will choose to spurn convention for an amusing throwback.

Likewise, maybe flashing banners could be once again implemented. While still unattractive, flashing neon could provide kitsch to the proper website. And if users are expecting such kitsch, the banners become relevant and banner blindness will no longer occur.

There are dozens of elements to point to as examples of what we’ve left behind while watching the web evolve: horizontal rule lines, hit counters, large rainbow-colored font, etc. Not all of them will be brought back, but if web design is anything like its counterparts in other trades, some will be brought back. At the very least, it seems somehow important that we remember where we came from, because these elements become a link to where we’ve been and at the same time suggest where we’re going.