Making a webpage
Making a webpage
2020-06-01

Making a webpage

Tomasz Rogalski

Nowadays, it's hard to imagine running a business without even the simplest website. In this article, I will introduce you to the subject of websites and the basic concepts that people who want to have their website should have.

To think about a website, you do not need to have a company right away, often the need to appear on the Internet is your passion and willingness to share with other people. The whole concept of the web was created on the initiative of sharing your knowledge with others.

Define your needs and expectations.

The website in many aspects is like a tangible product that you can buy from a store shelf, hanger or salon if we are talking about premium products. With this in mind, we should approach our "purchase" similarly, i.e. define our needs and expectations.

Let's try to define examples of needs:

  • the site is intended for: (presentation of the company's offer, business card, blog, landing page for the promotion of a specific campaign, a portal with a lot of categories and information, sale of products - online store)
  • I would like the website to stand out from others (individual design or common template)
  • I will often update content on the site (I need a content management system)
  • I need monthly support because I don't have time to update content myself.

As you can imagine, these needs can be many, many more, and probably each of us will have different needs.

After we defined our needs, the time has come for the expectations we have as to how the website will work and look.

  • expects my page will look similar to these pages (create a list of pages you like)
  • I don't want to be identified with these sites (list of sites you don't like)
  • I expect the website to be launched by (set date)
  • financial expectations (how much will the site cost me)

Well-defined needs and expectations at the very beginning will be crucial in the further process of creating a website, both for you to avoid unnecessary stress and for the contractor to do it for you quickly and efficiently. After everything is settled, you can start talking about finances. Asking a question at the very beginning of how much it will cost me without knowing what you really want is groundless and the contractor's answer may be very misleading or general.

Find a contractor for your site.

Once you know what you want, it's time to choose the contractor. All your choices are important to creating the perfect website, but this one is especially important. Even after reading hundreds of articles and books, this choice will still be difficult for you, but knowing the types of contractors you can find on the global market can make your choice easier.

However, before we move on to their description, remember about a properly structured contract between you, it should be legible for you, defines exactly what is the subject of the contract. Such a contract will protect you and the contractor.

Interactive agency

It is probably the most common form of activity related to websites and advertisements. The main assumption of the interactive agency is to provide clients with marketing support tools, such as websites, advertising banners and even short movie clips.

In ideal conditions, this is perhaps the most obvious and best choice for a website developing. Interactive agencies employ a relatively large number of good and very good graphic designers due to the profile of their activity, but the programmers who work there are not the best in the market, due to the fact that they work on low-budget projects and creating websites or online shops do not require very specialized knowledge from them. Nevertheless, they are masters in their craft, i.e. creating websites.

There is one more thing voted for choosing the agency, namely the implementation time. Such companies are website makers and sometimes have hundreds of completed projects in their portfolio. How to know that we are talking to an interactive agency? It's best to go to their official website and see what predominates in their business profile, i.e., in this case, it will be websites, online stores, advertisements, banner ads, sometimes creating business cards, etc.

Software house - a company dealing with software

Another form that you can come across in your search is a software house, which is a company strictly dealing with custom software development. The main goal of the company is to create advanced software on individual orders for its clients.

It is not an obvious choice to create a simple website, but when you start your adventure with investing in your company, it usually does not end with a simple page presenting your offer. Often you also need advanced solutions, integration with portals or internal software for process management in your company. The software house employs a large number of very good and experienced programmers who are masters in the art of software development. Oftentimes, the company does not employ graphic designers but cooperates with the best, due to the high budgets it has at its disposal for other projects. Does this mean that the website produced by the software house will be very expensive? It does not necessarily have to be that way. However, there is a high probability that it will be a very high-quality software and visual design created by the best graphic designers.

If you bet on the price and extremely fast delivery time of the product in the form of a website, this is not the most natural choice. However, if you focus on quality, and in the future, you are thinking about the further development of the company and supporting processes with technology, it is worth considering the choice of this contractor.

Freelancer - a freelancer, a master of his profession

As you can guess, this is a single person (company) who is characterized by relatively high programming skills and experience, since he could survive in the IT market by himself. It rarely happens nowadays that a freelancer is a graphic designer, programmer and seller at the same time, which is why he often works with other freelancers creating such a virtual, often international, company.

Currently, you can find a very large number of offers for websites created by freelancers. A person who deals with it professionally, and thus conducts business related to software development, builds his personal brand and probably does not give way to knowledge and experience of other programmers employed in interactive agencies or software houses. It would seem that the freelancer puts even more effort to make the client satisfied because he builds his brand, signs the product with his name. The price will probably be an additional advantage. Of course, very, generally speaking, freelancers are a bit cheaper than advertising agencies.

When it comes to the dark side, the deadlines may be extended, due to the fact that such a person works alone, often on several products at the same time, needs to rest like any normal person, i.e. goes on vacation and falls ill. This is not a cyborg :). Compared to advertising agencies or software houses where there are more programmers, no one can replace him in his duties.

Order on the offer portal

What is an offer portal? Well, this is a list of advertisements, where we can find a contractor for a given service or commission a service and contractors will submit price offers themselves. One of the popular portals isho.com (it was still there at the time of writing this article;))

It is one of the cheapest forms of creating a website, but at the same time, as it happens in life, the quality of this product will be the lowest. However, it is not only about quality but also about the legality of obtaining sources to build your future website. This is not the end of your problems. Often the so-called one-time contractors, i.e. they will create a website, but with the slightest problems you may encounter in the future, you will not get any help. They don't answer emails and don't answer phone calls. You should also remember the legal and fiscal aspects when we outsource the service to a private person. In practice, it will be complicated for us to prove our point in case of any problems. These problems could be multiplied here. However, there are exceptional contractors and if we have to, for financial reasons, commission our website as cheaply as possible, let's at least try to check the opinions of other principals in relation to this contractor. Many offer portals allow you to leave feedback after the end of the job.

On such portals, you can also meet legally operating companies, but these are described above.

It's hard for me to find any strong points of this form of website development. Since this form of website building exists, it means that it has its supporters. However, I urge you, dear readers, not to make this mistake. However, the choice is yours.

Website builder

There are several large companies and web portals that deal strictly with the creation, but the more accurate term is creating websites. Knowing the basic HTML and CSS tags, and often even without knowledge of these technologies, we can "click-out" the page ourselves from ready components. One of the popular ones recently is http://www.wix.com/. It is not an advertisement, because it is more competition, but I would like to make you aware of what it is and what it looks like. Very often, domain or hosting service providers offer free website builders to encourage customers to buy more expensive servers that they do not necessarily need.

Let's talk about the advantages of this solution for now. Such a wizard has very good technical support, who will provide us with tips over the phone on how to deal with the problem that we will definitely encounter while creating our website. Another advantage is that they are proven and tested techniques and safety solutions. The entry price (often free) is another aspect that should be taken into account, but it is a double-edged weapon because it is the spread of a much more expensive service over time.

Now the disadvantages of this solution. It is not a custom solution, so you are not able to do what you want, but what the system allows you to do. However, I think that this is not the worst flaw. The worst is yet to come :(. Do not be fooled by what the company presents you with their sample pages because professionals made them and, in addition, the graphic designers prepared beautiful and graphic-rich designs. When you buy such a wizard, you do not have graphics that are not cheap. I would say that this is the worst disadvantage of this solution because you bought a wizard, but you really have to choose graphics, colours, fonts, structures, etc. Then you run into a technology that you do not know, and you have to spend a lot of time and energy to learn the tool and design your website. Another disadvantage is the price, as I wrote above, the entry threshold is very low or even zero (I do not include graphics for which you have to try yourself), but nothing is for free, a subscription system is waiting for you, and it's not cheap In most cases, after 2-3 years, the costs will exceed what you would pay in an interactive agency for creating a great website.

Summary

As you could read, there are many factors that determine the choice of contractor. To make it a little easier for you, I will present it in the form of a table. The choice is up to you, remember that these data are ideal assumptions, while you, as the person who should be most interested in creating your dream website.

ContractorConsProsPrice
Interactive agency- problems with larger and more demanding projects (lack of very experienced programmers)- price of the service- interesting graphic designs- fast delivery time- use of proven and safe solutionsMedium
Software house- the delivery time may be slightly extended- price of the service- unconventional graphic designs- very good programmers- creating advanced and safe solutions and integration with other applicationsMedium
Freelancer- long delivery time- problems with more demanding projects (lack of facilities and time)- relatively low price- ease and speed of communication- good price for valueLow
Offer portal- operating on the edge of tax law (grey market)- problem with the execution of any corrections and complaints- very long delivery time- negligible security- very low priceVery Low
Website builder- the need to build the website yourself and spear a tremendous amount of time on it- high total cost after 2 years- low entry price- very good technical support- proven and safe solutionsLow / Medium

Prepare materials and give them to contractor.

After choosing the contractor, it's time to prepare for him the content and materials that we would like to be on our website. This is related to our needs and expectations, which we specified at the very beginning, it will help the contractor understand them better. When the materials are prepared with due diligence, the contractor will be able to help us arrange a certain structure, refine the offer with us and systematize the structure of the website. Here is a small digression: we can count on help from the contractor in the case of cooperation with experienced and good companies, I would rather not expect great help from a person who can be found for the least money on offer portals.

What should we prepare or what will help the contractor in creating the website:

  • content, preferably divided into thematic sections, e.g. about the company, company values, company mission, company’s offer, contact details
  • media, i.e. photos and/or videos, here it is also worth dividing them into thematic sections if you cannot divide it, trust the artist who works with graphics and will help you in this matter
  • certificates or documents that you would like your potential customers to see

When providing content to the contractor, make sure it is legal. You heard so well, you are responsible for the content published on your website. Do not copy content from others to avoid being accused of plagiarism, use only legally obtained images or videos. When an artist purchases licensed photos for you, ask them to license the photos. It is best if you buy the media for yourself, indicated by the contractor.

At this point, the ball is on your side. The contractor will not be able to start preparing the website without knowing the entirety of your vision. The sooner you convey your vision (content, media, etc.), the sooner you can expect results in the form of a graphic design or a ready-made website.

Also, take care of the quality of the content and photos, the contractor often does not edit the content, pastes it as it was sent to him. Check if there are any verbal or spelling mistakes. Another very important thing is the quality of photos and videos. Currently, websites are being prepared for screens with high resolutions, your photos must look good at resolutions above 1200 px. In time, even this value will be insufficient. Here we come to the next point, which is a professional photo session. What is worth photographing? Everything we want to put on our website, e.g .:

  • your person, your team
  • office rooms
  • vehicle’s fleet
  • products we want to offer, etc.

Of course, interactive agencies or software houses can organize everything for you, from the content, photo session even to the creation of the entire brand of your company.

Unique graphic design or a ready template.

At least two elements are essential for a website. The first is usability (user experience UX), i.e. what the user feels while navigating the website, and the second is a very nice look of the website, i.e. a decent graphic design. We buy with our eyes, so if your website is to help you increase your company's profits, it is worth presenting it in an eye-friendly way.

The offers of companies involved in creating websites often refer to the author's (individual) graphic design, because the appearance of the website is extremely important and if you are serious about your website, you should consider this option. Of course, preparing a graphic design involves additional costs.

What option is left for you if for some reason you do not want an individual graphic design? You can purchase a previously prepared graphic template. If you spend some time, you can buy such a template on different websites and give the contractor to create your website based on this template. However, there is one critical matter to remember. In the process of purchasing a template, in 95% of cases you only buy structure and functionality, you do not buy the photos attached to the template, which is a bit shocking for people who meet a ready template for the first time. Well, graphics are expensive compared to a template that can cost as much as one good photo. If you buy a ready template, you are responsible for arranging the blocks on individual pages, selecting the appropriate graphics, colors, etc., so if you do not have an artistic flair, this undertaking may be challenging for you and not worth your time, and the end result may be unsatisfactory.

To sum up, the original graphic design is additional costs that you have to incur when creating a website, but you have everything given on a tray and made by a professional. On the other hand, a ready template is a low price, but you need to invest time to prepare and arrange everything on the website and then clearly describe what is to be done to the contractor.

The last quite important thing: downloading from the Internet photos that are clearly not marked as free is illegal and you may be prosecuted.

Website, or maybe Fan Page.

Another form of presenting your person, products or company is Facebook FanPage. Compared to a professional website, you can do it yourself in just a few minutes. To get started, all you need to do is set up a profile picture, usually a company logo or a picture of a person and a background picture referring to your business, a good example would be a picture of our product. We also need to complete basic data, information about the fan page, such as:

  • company name
  • business description
  • activity categories
  • contact details
  • work hours

And after a few minutes, we can enjoy our fan page.

For our FanPage to generate customer traffic, we should think about constant updating and, above all, creating thematic posts describing our activities. Facebook allows us a wide range of tools and its platform for free, which makes it easier for us to develop our company and reach virtually the whole world with our offer.

When we are already more advanced Facebook users, it is worth getting interested in the promotion of individual posts to attract even more traffic to our website (FanPage), unfortunately, it is already a paid option.

Nevertheless, for beginner entrepreneurs who cannot afford a professional website right away, it is an option that is worth considering and which, as professionals, we recommend to our clients.

Content management system - CMS.

CMS - is short for Content Management System. It is a website content management system. The world content describes the issue very accurately, i.e. content and media (photos, videos, etc.).

Why you may need a CMS at all? Imagine that your website is about cooking, so there are a lot of recipes and you probably want to add new recipes from time to time. You need some tool that will make it possible for you. The CMS system is the best for this purpose.

There are many ready-made systems on the market, such as Wordpress, Concrete, Drupal, Joomla, Elementor and custom CMSs. I will not describe them here, but rather focus on the general assumptions and features of CMS.

The main task of the CMS is to enable you to manage your website most intuitively and safely and I could stop there, but I would like you to think about whether you need a website management system? Often in my work, I encounter the fact that a website is created and nothing changes on it over the next years of its life, this mainly applies to websites such as business cards. So why build something that will never be used. Even if you had to change some content every year, it would still be possible directly in the HTML code of the page.

Of course, I do not advocate such a solution, especially as the creator of the website, but it only points to the possibility of building a website a bit cheaper.

Server and domain. What should you know about this?

When our website is finished, we should think about how we will show it to the whole world. We need a domain and a server for this. But what's a domain and server?

Domain - this is the internet address where you will be able to find your website, e.g. google.com, facebook.com, yourwebsite.com, etc.

Server - is a device with Internet access (you could say for simplicity - a computer) that serves (renders - displays, operates the software) your website.

These two concepts can be presented in a more vivid way. The domain can be compared to the address and the server to the building located at this address.

It is worth knowing about servers to know a few important properties such as:

  • whether the server is a virtual server (easy to use) or a dedicated server (for which specialist knowledge is needed). As a rule, a virtual server is enough to operate a simple website,
  • monthly transfer, i.e. how much data can be downloaded in a month, in other words, how many times you can view the page (currently most servers have no transfer limit)
  • performance (number of processors, amount of RAM)
  • available disk space for your data (all kinds of media will take the biggest part)
  • reliability (expressed as a percentage, e.g. 99.95%), i.e. the time in which we have a guarantee that the server will work without interruptions and faults.

The contractor of your website should help you choose the server, but remember that you have to buy it and then maintain it (in the annual subscription), so it is worth knowing the basic parameters of the servers. When choosing a domain, the matter is much simpler because you have to decide on the name under which your potential customers can find you.

SEO - Search Engine Optimization. What does it mean and should I pay attention to it?

SEO - all activities aimed at promoting the website (page) on the Internet. Both the optimization of the website code, modification and appropriate page content as well as additional activities increasing traffic on your website. It is common to call all SEO activities - positioning.

So is positioning important? It is essential. I would say more important than the appearance of the page. The main reason why we should pay attention to it is the ability to search our website for appropriate keywords entered in the search engine (e.g. Google). Take, for example, a manufacturer of flower pots, there are several thousand of them in Poland and Google shows us 10 results on a single page. Research shows that potential clients do not search further than to the 3rd page. Therefore, out of several thousand, the 30 best-positioned company pages will be visited by potential customers.

Now you can imagine that it must be a difficult task to be in the top 10 or 30. Therefore, specialized companies that deal with SEO have emerged on the market, the contractors of your websites do not have the appropriate tools to deal with positioning. However, on the other hand, SEO companies create websites for their clients.

Since we already know that this task is difficult, we can expect that it is not cheap. As a rule, 5-6 months of positioning will exceed the total cost of the website, but if the positioning company does its job well, the number of customers that will come to your website will be huge, counted in hundreds or thousands, depending on the industry you promote on the Internet. So if your company is able to handle such a move, the profits will be much, much higher than the costs of positioning.

I wouldn't be myself if I hadn't written about the dark sides of SEO here. It is very difficult to verify with the basic knowledge about positioning whether the positioning company is doing it correctly. Of course, we can see the traffic on our website and the number of inquiries, but we do not know what techniques the company uses. In extreme cases, if Google detects that our website is artificially positioned, it may temporarily remove it from search engine results for several weeks or forever (BAN). If this happens to us, the only solution is to change the domain and start all over again.

Responsive website.

What does it mean that the website is responsive? Before we get to the definition, let's try to explain it in simple words, and the definition is really simple. A responsive page is a page that displays "fine" on devices with different resolutions. A very important point should be noted here. The website looks a bit different on different resolutions, its appearance largely depends on the prepared graphic design. In other words, we can say that the website changes its appearance depending on the available resolution so that it is readable and useful.

Now, as we know how the responsive website behaves, we can go to the definition. Responsive website (RWD - Responsive Web Design) is a website that responsively adjusts its appearance to the device resolution.

Should we, as principals, know something more about the RWD website? I don't think so. We should let the specialists act. After the job will be finished, it is worth checking that the website displays well on mobile devices.

Currently, RWD websites are standard and it should not be an argument or an additional fee that you have to pay when creating a website. I will say more: RWD is a necessity these days.

Security

Although this is the last part of the article, it doesn't mean it's less important. When creating websites, the security aspect is often overlooked, which leads to bigger problems.

Why is it so important? As a rule, websites do not store important data or data from our clients, so we should not be afraid of losing them. Additionally, most hosting providers offer free database backups. So why is it so important? Most attacks on a website end up not so much with deleting our website as with its infection. Our clients and potential clients may be exposed to unwanted content displayed to them. Additionally, our infected website may be used to promote the attacker's domains. As a consequence, it may lead to the loss of the position of our website in google rankings and even its bans.

So what we can do from the user perspective? 

  • First of all, let's make sure that our passwords are strong and change them periodically. I mean passwords to the server and to the management panel of our website. 
  • We can secure our website with an SSL certificate.
  • Periodic update of the software used to build the website.
  • Subject our website to a security audit.

It is not worth saving on safety, so choose companies with experience and a guarantee. The infection of the website is not the end of the world, there is no such security that cannot be broken, but the reaction of the creator of your website is the most important in this case, i.e. restoring the website to proper operation.