Wednesday, 21 November 2012 02:26


Is it about the business, technology or the design?

Actually it is about the customer!  It doesn't matter if you are a business or a non-profit organisation - it is always about who you serve.  How do they feel and what do they want?  Technology and web design are about serving the end user.  Building the website is about combining all of the factors of development to produce a website quickly with all the technology at a price which offers a great return on investment.

Building websites is a concert of a wide array of elements that need to come together in a very precise way to deliver a prescribed outcome.  Shorthand - it needs to work!  Users need to enjoy your website - even if the source of that enjoyment is just highly usable functionality.  Can you imagine going to a website and actually enjoying paying a parking ticket because it was so hassle free?

There are four major areas of web development to consider:

  • Presentation layer - look, feel, style, assignment of screen real estate, navigation
  • Logic layer -performs calculations, offers technology to present content (slide shows, lists, galleries, forums), user interaction mechanisms, user input
  • Data layer - the database stores almost all the information for a website.  Its only purpose is to serve and store information in most cases.
  • Administration layer - in modern content management systems the administration layer gives instructions to the presentation, logic, and data layers.  This includes adding, editing, and deleting content; configuring technology used; and controlling things like time and administration functions.  It sits between the website presentation and the logic & the data layer.  In essence everything is stored in the database and the administration layer gives all instructions on how it will present and behave.

Build Process

Building a website starts with creating a vision, plan, creative elements, specifications - and then finally building it.  The building part of development is actually one of the least important activities as the majority of work that is preformed has already been defined and carefully thought out.

Standard Technology

  •     The content management system is installed.
  •     A temporary design structure is implemented so that the presentation layer can function
  •     Menu structure schema is implemented
  •     Technology modules and existing components are applied
  •     Sample content is uploaded to the database

Custom Technology

  •     Forms are developed with their business logic validation of fields
  •     Custom applications of modules and extensions are created
  •     Application interfaces are created
  •     Processing technology specific to unique content needs are implemented

Administration Controls

  •     Applications that manipulate content which cannot be managed in the administration back-end are applied and tested
  •     Administration controls based on access levels are assigned
  •     Backup, security, and website optimisations are installed and configured
  •     Back-end configuration of quotations, invoices, project management, customer management, and others are applied
  •     Time controls for automated functions are inserted

Creative Design

  •     Style sheet is created and applied
  •     Custom structures and screen elements are installed
  •     Graphical content are tailored to the website
  •     Client is involved in pre-delivery modifications and approval process
  •     Final graphics are optimised for web

Database Development

  •     Database engineering commences to create custom tables and structures
  •     Database is checked for integrity
  •     Sample data is discarded
  •     Database is optimised for speed

Standards Testing

  •     Website is checked for compliance to the relevant standards
  •     Alterations are made for instances of failure to achieve best fit
  •     Dead link and 404 testing is preformed

Technical Specification

  •     Documents specific to development are written
  •     Code is commented as modifications are made
  •     Database structure is documented if required
  •     Previous documentation is checked against the build

Every web development is unique.  Sometimes even what appears to be simple changes can be very labourious, and things that may seem complex are very simple.  During a development build changes can be very costly.  Interweaving tries diligently to make clients aware of the cost of changes during construction before any work is preformed.  The work performed during a build is very much like the framing of a house.  A lot happens all at once, and it begins to look very much like a house - but there is a lot to be done before you can move in.

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Tuesday, 20 November 2012 01:50

Web Design

What do you think Web Design really is?

Most people probably think that creative web design is all about the creation of new fresh ideas - while sitting on red valour lounges with a sketch pad.  Well, sometimes it is but most of the time its about researching, adopting, and modifying.

Creative design, just like programming, frequently takes existing ideas and uses them as inspiration for something new.  Although the original design may have been the start - the end product usually looks very little like the originating idea.  In programming the same is true and probably more so.  Programming follows the rule of "build it really well once and use it a thousand times".  Interweaving reuses elements of technology, programming and design every time we build a website.  In fact one of the untold truths of web development is that most projects are largely about putting existing design, programming code, and ideas together to shortcut the process.  Why?  To build completely original applications and designs from scratch is REALLY expensive.  There is no point in constantly reinventing the wheel.

What this means in real terms is Reuse.  Reuse saves you an enormous amount of money, time, and avoids risk.  Through reuse we can now deliver web projects that would have cost tens of thousands a few years ago for only a few thousand dollars now.  Most of the building blocks of web development are already available if you know where to find them.

So what does that mean?  In simple terms that means that 90% of everything you would like to do in any web project can be done quickly, simply, and cheaply.  It also means that the other 10% of what you may want is typically impractical or unnecessary.  If enough people in the world have wanted what your looking to build before you - the world of programming has probably built it already.  You will be surprised how much is available right off the shelf to meet your needs.

What is very important is your organisation's brand and style.  Web design takes your brand and formalises it into a style specification. The style sheet describes the logo, image elements, fonts, colours, textures, and format for your website.  Sometimes this is just an extension of an already well defined offline style.  Although frequently it requires significant interpretation or stylising to make the transition to online.

In summary, a website is a combination of a large share of reused technology & design; some custom applications and creative design; and a liberal amount of stylising to interpret your business brand online.  After that all you need is a self-administered content management system with original content (information) and you have an extremely usable and valuable website.

That last thing to understand may be counter-intuitive to you.  Most of the custom creative design happens just before delivery.  With modern technology websites are built using a content management system.  First you create a website map that defines the size and shape of a website. Then we create navigation, visual elements, web technology, and everything that shapes each web page.  After that the style sheet is applied, and the website becomes fully functional with all the technical elements required.  This is when the truly creative element of web design is applied.  It is taking a functional and usable website and making it attractive - infusing your organisations look and feel in the process.

Every website is different.  Some end up being all about the technology and others are only about the design.  Interweaving understands that both elements are important and we can customise your website to represent how important each element is to you.

Would you like to talk about design?  Contact us here for your free consultation