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March 26, 2010

Website design v.s. website programming

Filed under: Website Development — Mike Jaltuch @ 10:21 am

When developing a websites two general skill sets are utilized, design and programming. Design being the creative part where you develop the look/feel of the site. Programming, of course, is the actual coding/database development which includes your business logic.

For a fairly simple site, the relationship between the two (design and programming) can easily be a 50/50 split. However, the vast majority of websites are upwards of 90% – 98% programming with a very small percentage of overall work going to design.

It’s not that design is being shuttled to the back burner, but creating a design for a small or large project are not much different with respect to time involved. Therefore, when working on large projects the programming aspect is a much larger percentage of overall time.

Why is this important to know?

Since most people are not technical, they don’t understand or relate to programming. Therefore it’s common to only consider design when selecting a company to develop their website. It’s human nature to gravitate to what you know. They simply look at a development companies designs and select the one who they feel has the nicest looking designs.

I’m not saying design is not important. As we all know many people will judge a book by its cover, including your customers. But with that being said, a website that looks great but doesn’t work correctly is useless. Look at some of the most successful websites on the internet today; Amazon, EBay, Yahoo, Facebook, Craig’s List etc. The list goes on. There are a few things all these sites have in common – they are very successful but none have what I would call ‘great creative design’. All these sites are easy to use and work well.

So take a lesson from other sites worth billions of dollars and spend a little more time focusing on the workings of your site and a little less time on design. When talking to potential web development companies, try to focus on the complexities of the projects in their portfolio and if they are similar in size to yours. Doing so will give you a higher chance of success vs just looking at their design skills.

March 8, 2010

Website Hosting Options

Filed under: Website Development — Mike Jaltuch @ 10:15 pm

One issue everyone who has a website needs to deal with is hosting. At Learn Method, since we are strictly a website design and development agency so we don’t do any website hosting. The advantage of situation is that it puts us in a very unbiased role to recommend a hosting solution.

As I often tell clients, this is a not-too-common but very good situation where our interests are exactly the same. It’s in my best interest to help you find reliable hosting for the lowest possible price. The reasoning is simple.

If I direct a client to a hosting solution with frequent problem the one usually getting the calls is the web developer. This is followed up by us contacting the hosting company to resolve the issue and usually having to spend time to prove it’s a hosting issue and not a coding one. This is wasted time as nothing is gained by us or the client. Therefore, it’s in our best interests to find a website hosting provider that will provide the most stable easy to manage solution.

When your site goes down, and be prepared that at some point it will go down since no computer is immune to issues, you want a hosting solution which can quickly deal with any issue at any time. Remember that computer problems usually occur at the least convenient times.

Our recommendation is usually very simple and addresses a single question first asked by many clients.

We have an IT person and a net work so can’t we just host the site internally at our office?

My recommendation on this decision is the same 100% of the time—use a professional hosting company.

Over the past 10-15 years prices have come down so low that it’s virtually impossible to duplicate the level of service internally that you will receive with a hosting company for the same cost. Any decent hosting company will have redundant connections to the internet, backup power, daily backups, and 24×7 tech support on the premise to offer support when needed. This cannot possibly be matched for the price offered by most companies today.

Try hosting internally and you might feel like you are saving a few dollars, but what happens when your server goes down at midnight on Friday? This recently happened to a client who hosts internally and the site was down until the IT department returned to work on Monday to fix the problem.

Once the decision has been made to use a professional hosting company, we make recommendations based on the specifics of the project. Issues such as server platform needed, project size and expected volume are just some of the criteria looked at before recommending a specific provider.