Web Design Terms Simplified
If you are getting a website built for the first time it can be quite intimidating. You’ll find web designers throwing terms like domain, web hosting, SEO etc thrown in. Here in this guide, I’ve tried to explain them in layman terms.
www.google.com is a domain.
www.google.co.in is also a domain.
There are 2 important parts – ‘google’ and ‘.com’ or ‘.co.in’
‘.com’ is the most ubiquitous, however you can get a ‘.co.in’, ‘.in’ for your website. I personally would recommend ‘.com’. Go for the other options only if a ‘.com’ address isn’t available.
You can buy domains for a minimum period of 1 yr.
Typical prices range from RS 600 to RS 900 based on the vendor.
A domain is like an address written on a piece of paper. You read the address and then go to the actual location. Hosting is that actual location. It is a computer where your website and related files will be stored.
You’ll find hosting plans starting from RS 1000 and can go up to RS 10,000 per year.
It is important to spend adequate amount on hosting. The most important criteria is the speed.
Cheap hosting companies don’t offer you good speeds. As a result your website users will have to wait longer for your site to load.
Decent shared hosting plans start out at around RS 5,000 per year.
Do allocate enough budget for your hosting needs.
This is the space on the web server, which you are given to store your website. As of December 2012, most web hosting companies give unlimited space. Of course there is a catch whereby there is a limit on monthly uploads. But for day to day use, it is sufficient and you don’t have to worry about it.
No. of Pages:
Many web designers charge you on the basis of per page. They have plans starting with 5 to 7 pages. If your website exceed it then, you get charged extra.
Here’s a secret – 90% of the work is spent on designing the homepage and the other normal page. Creating extra pages isn’t much of an inconvenience.
However before ask your web designer to create reams of pages think about it, will your customers really read all those 100 pages which you lovingly created?
It is always better to be succinct and put the required information in as few pages as possible.
Every web designer out there will tell you that your website is ‘SEO Optimized’. It is different from the typical SEO which involves getting a higher rank in Google search results.
The reason is that even ‘Sergie Brin’ and ‘Larry Page’, the guys who invented Google, cannot give you a guarantee that your website will be on top of Google’s search results.
Imagine, you are searching for ‘cake shop’. There are thousands of cake shops all over the world. Several of them will have a website. Your search result will contain results from US, Mexico and other places along with India.
Searching for ‘cake shop mumbai’ will give you a better result. If your cake shop is based in Mumbai then your ‘SEO Optimized’ site will feature in the results, but not necessarily in the top 10 results.
No website can get to the top spot overnight. SEO professionals use several ‘dark magic’ tricks to get you up in the rankings by using spam comments like:
Thankyou for your informative article on smartphones.
Here is an excellent website which sells cakes. Do try them – www.yourcakeshop.com
Such spam campaigns go on for months. Cost a lot and still you cannot be sure that you’ll get high enough in the result. And the worst part is that if Google smells something fishy, it will blacklist your website.
The best way to get high on the search results is to use a blog and provide genuinely useful, fresh content. Don’t copy someone else’s article.
Read this excellent article on why SEO is a waste of money by Paul Boag - The Inconvenient Truth About SEO
Google Analytics is a useful tool which gives you detailed insight about your website visitors. It can tell you, which products on your website are more popular? where do most of your visitors come from? How long do they stay on your website?
Some web designers provide Google Analytics option for free, whereas others charge you for the added functionality.
If you want complete control of your website, this is the option for you.
It allows you to add, delete, edit pages of your website. It is as easy as composing an email. You don’t have to mess with the code. You’ll find homemakers using a CMS enabled websites to share recipes. It is that simple!
CMS functionality doubles the cost of the website but it is very useful if you are a content creator.
The initial website design includes the cost of domain and hosting for a period of 1 yr.
In order to continue the website beyond the first year, you have to pay the renewal charges. These typically range from RS 2,500 to RS 5,000.
Responsive Design/ Mobile Optimized:
This is one murky area where some web designers don’t deliver what they promised.
I’ve seen web design companies promise users that the website was mobile optimized but it wasn’t in reality.
First you have to understand responsive design. The following example will make it clear.
A Japanese web designer Masayuki Kid, aka Roxik, has made this responsive cat : an animated kitty that stretches across the length of the browser window, and resizes accordingly as you reduce the window’s width.
When you reduce the screen size it automagically changes to this:
Do visit it here – http://roxik.com/cat/
Today your visitors view your website form a PC, a tablet or a mobile phone.
A PC monitor can be as large as 27 inch, where as tablets come in a size of 7 to 10 inches.
Most mobile phones have a size of 4 to 5 inches.
This is a huge gap in screen size. Just because your mobile can barely display the website doesn’t make it optimized in the truest sense.
Users have to constantly pan and scroll to read all the information. This can get very frustrating.
Responsive design overcomes it by adjusting itself according to the screen size.
User on a mobile phone will be shown an altered version of the site. For example, the navigation bar is shrunk into a small button to save space.
This is different from a separate mobile website, which is a stripped down, no-images, no-ads sort of website.
Here is an analogy. Few years ago, people used to carry a mobile phone and a separate iPod with them at all times. Later on it was realized that it is better to carry a single mobile phone which could play songs.
Similarly few years ago, there used to be a main website for PCs and a separate bare-bones mobile website.
But with as technology advanced, mobile phones kept getting more powerful. Chances are that your current mobile is more powerful than any laptop made 10 yrs ago.
Today’s mobile devices are powerful enough to handle regular websites, the only difference is of screen size.
This can be overcome by Responsive Design. It magically adapts the content to suit the device.
For example, the website will only have vertical scrolling so that users won’t have to pan and scroll. This helps them get information faster.
If your website makes mobile users pan and scroll, then it isn’t mobile optimized. Don’t let your web designer fool you.
This is one of the most important modern trend in web design and if you are getting a new website, do get a responsive design. Most of your customers are using mobile device – make it easy for them to access your site.