Things to Consider When Choosing a Web Development Company

When you make the decision to create a website, you have two choices. You can forge ahead and get your hands dirty with all of the new technology and coding languages out there today, or you can hire a professional team that will be able to do the job for you. If you have the technical knowhow and you don’t mind taking the time to develop a site, then you can do it on your own.

Most people who own a business don’t have the time or the skill to create a great looking site, though. You have to consider far more than just the functionality of the site. You also have to think about the overall design and color scheme, as well as how you can incorporate your branding. Hiring a professional who can handle all of these things and more is often going to help you save time and money, and reduce the frustration that you feel.

Of course, you can’t choose just any company to handle the job, though. You have to make sure that you are working with a high quality team of professionals that can offer all of the services you need. Here are some of the things that you will want to consider and look for when you are making your choice for a web development company.

Design

You’ll want to make sure that the company knows more than just coding. They have to know how to develop an aesthetically pleasing site that is unique yet still familiar enough that your visitors will have no trouble with the navigation. In addition, they should work with you to find the best methods of incorporating your logo and other branding so that your visitors know that it is your site as soon as they arrive.

SEO Services

One of the most important things for a website today is SEO. You need to have high quality SEO if you are going to have a visible site. Some people are able to do the writing and handle all of the other SEO tasks on their own. However, it can be beneficial to hire a company that knows how to incorporate SEO into your site for you. The company that you hire should be able to develop a site that is going to be SEO friendly for you so that the coding and other elements do not interfere with your ranking.

Customer Service

One of the things that is going to be very important when you are choosing a web development company is the customer service that the company offers. If you want to have a good working relationship, then the company needs to have a good customer service department. You can look for testimonials from former clients, and you can speak with a representative of the company to see how they operate. If they don’t have time for you before you hire them, you can be relatively sure that they won’t have time for you after you are a customer.

Web Development Tips

Web development plays a very vital role in the present times. More and more companies are now getting on the Internet. That is why you need to maximize your online presence which is not possible without a meaningful website. Therefore website development requires careful attention so that you can lure more and more customers to your business. There are a number of tips that can help you in this regard.

• First of all, you need to bear in mind that the website you create should be simple, useful and direct. The sites that are inundated with unnecessary graphics or information are not very useful. Visitors find this confusing and they find it hard to get useful information from such sites. So remember to keep the layout and outlook simple and clean.

• The website needs to be attractive despite being simple. It should look professional so that visitors get a good first impression. You should use appropriate images and colors.

• The content of a website is also very important when it comes to the development of a site. Make sure that the information that you give is clear, concise and true.

• Another important web development tip is to make your website user friendly. Make sure that the graphics and text are balanced.

• Try to avoid flash based files in your website. This will help visitors access your site quickly and easily. Heavy websites take too much downloading time so just use simple images and graphics.

• You must also make your website search engine friendly. The use of proper keywords, descriptions and titles is important so that search engines can rank your site higher on the results. SEO plays a very important part in web development process. Follow Search engine optimization rules and guidelines as this will help you win more customers when your site comes in the top search engine results.

Remember that the more time you spend on developing your website; the better and faster the results you will be able to get. If you have expertise in web development you can do it on your own. If you are not familiar with web designing, you can hire professionals to do it for you. Whichever approach you take; it is important to have a general idea of web development so that you can be clear about what you want and how you can achieve it in the best possible manner.

The Top 10 Most Essential Time Saving Tools for Web Developers

Bruce Lee once said, “Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it.” Those are very powerful words. Being a huge Bruce Lee fan, I took those words very seriously when I first heard them. At first I took it to learn that it means you have to be a sponge for new knowledge. As time went on and I have needed to be more efficient I have learned it also means you don’t need to waste your time re-inventing the wheel. Or worse, give up because you don’t think you can’t do it.

Anyways, now that you have read about Bruce Lee on Wikipedia and realize how right he was here are my top 10 most essential tools for a web developer based on my own real true life experience. These may not be the coolest, or most sexy, we’ll get to that in another article. This one is all about the essentials.

10. GIMP / Photoshop CS5
Boring I know, but it is essential isn’t it? Yes it is. You must have an image editor handy if you are a web developer, designer, or basically anyone these days. I use Photoshop, but for those of you looking for a free alternative, GIMP is free and open source. I spend quite a bit of time unfortunately each day in Photoshop. Quick tip – record actions to save time.

9. Google Chrome
Really? A web browser is essential for development? Yes it is, and more than you will ever know. I stopped using Firefox because it crashes too much and I finally figured out how to make Chrome Bookmarks work like I want them too. Use Google Chrome for the element inspector. It is way better than Firebug in my opinion. It has all different kinds of features such as CSS, HTML element inspector, resource charts, and performance testing. I use it most of the time to inspect CSS styles and see how folks are doing what they do!

8. Adobe Dreamweaver CS5
If you are getting bored you should just skip to the top 5. Dreamweaver should really be #1, but I took the list of 10 and picked my personal favorites. Dreamweaver, for those that may not know, is an FTP client to upload and download files from web servers, manage multiple site configurations, and edit code. CS5 does a lot better job supporting the latest version of CSS and will debug your code as you type javascript, html, css, or php. I’m sure there are plenty of other cool features like the spry framework, but I don’t really use that anymore.

7) netrenderer
I use netrender for one reason plain and simple: testing sites in IE6 and IE7. I have all the other browsers loaded to my computer, so I don’t really need a complete solution. I am pretty confident with how I code so I know which things will break in IE6 (transparent PNGs being my #1 pet peeve). So really I end up using this essential, fast tool just to see what my site looks like in crappy Internet Explorer 6. On a side note many companies, even fortune 30 companies, are still using IE6. So thank God your not in a corporate development shop.

6) StumbleUpon
StumbleUpon is a web application for sharing cool websites. It is best embodied and used by mes as a Firefox extension. To get started, get a free accoun and setup your preferences as a web developer or designer (and maybe stick some funny videos in your preferences too – for break time only, kids!). Anyways once you get this up and running simply click ‘Stumble!’ on your toolbar and you will be magically wisked away to various sites that have been ‘liked’ by others. Think that’s a waste of time and you already have limited space because your using delicious? Think again! StumbleUpon has been around for a few years now if not more and I have found more cool random stuff on there than I ever would have using Digg, DevZone, or Delicious. The element of randomness adds a freshness to it that gets you slightly more excited and willing to read / skim through whatever page it sends you too.

5) BluePrint CSS
Even though I don’t really use BluePrint CSS that much anymore (read #1 and you will see why), I think it has been one of the single most essential tools I have ever used.

BluePrint CSS is a simple, easy to implement CSS Framework. Even if you don’t use it as a complete solution, it has a great reference guide which I use frequently to troubleshoot problems with my CSS, look for best practices, or simply grab a chunk of CSS code and use it (I recommend using their.error and.success classes for providing user feedback). You see it all over the place.

The single best reason why you should put BluePrint in the top shelf of your toolbox is to understand the importance of being thoughtful about layout and typography. You know how sometimes you go to a website and think, man this looks great, why do my fonts not look like that? What font are they using? Well, for one, they are probably using similar if not the same fonts as you, but it is the character spacing, line height, and font size relationships between elements that they have optimized for viewing. Study BluePrint CSS, if not for the aforementioned but because man, its #5 on the list!!!

4) Webappers
All I can say is: Great Website. I found it once on StumbleUpon (#6 on this list) and probably go their every few days and also have an RSS feed I check on my iGoogle page. This website has a ton of content and is separated out into components, design, and extras. I would say that if your looking for anything from icons, color schemes, charting techniques, photo galleries, video embedding techniques – this is a great site to use.

3) SimpleScripts
Another tool I hope you have used. SimpleScripts is like Fantastico but way better, more advanced, and I believe has more software options. It is used as a feature to most hosting providers in the administration panel for users to manager their installations of third party software like WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Two main reasons why this is the most essential tool are the fact that it automates the installation process but also it manages and monitors updates so that you don’t end up with a site that is exposed to hackers who will setup a phishing site. Content Management Systems are easy targets if they are not updated timely.

2) JQuery Tools
I can’t even begin to say how much I love JQuery Tools. Nicknamed, “The missing UI for the web”, JQuery is my solution for form validation, tooltips, image transitions, and horizontal sliders. The code is great and it usually works in every browser. They are the same guys who brought us flowplayer (see #4). I used to use lightbox, but now I use Overlay, which is an essential tool for providing feedback to a user or showing a nice popup form without opening a new window. The other great thing is that there is a nice user community and a bare essential example for each tool to get your started and up and running fast.

1) Artisteer
Ok, you might not have actually heard of this one! Artisteer is what I like to call”PowerPoint for Web Development”.

Sure Artisteer actually costs money. But it really is worth it. You design XHTML / CSS compliant web sites through a GUI without writing any code. But the real kicker is that you can export the result as a WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal template. Missing link, anyone? I had always wanted to create customized themes so I could actually be efficient enough to make a website with a CMS as its backend without just using a template that is already out there.

I have found that Artisteer does a great job of automating a lot of things that you would never do, like making consistent styles for all your elements, even elements like which usually end up looking like the default html styling because you simply don’t have time to make a UI that is consistent from top to bottom. Its also great for prototyping, messing with typography, and designing killer menus.