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Abrishca Digital Media is a freelance web design and development studio based in Warrnambool, Australia (not that location matters much to the internet these days).
I specialise in website solutions for small businesses, predominantly using HTML/CSS, WordPress and jQuery. Being a one-stop shop, I can help with both front-end design (what you see) and front-end development (how it works, layout and effects, functionality).
I can provide your business with a number of online and offline services, including:
- Website Design
- Website Development
- Website Makeover/Renovation
- eCommerce Solutions
- Hosting & Domains
- Branding, Logos & Graphic Design
- Website coding for Graphic Designers
- Business Cards & Stationery
- Commercial Photography
All of the above are created predominantly with the following skills and knowledge:
- HTML/CSS/PHP (hand-coded)
- WordPress (custom theming & development)
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Illustrator
To discuss any of the above services, please contact me via this page.
How many of your competitors have a website? If they do, you are trailing the competition and if they don’t, this provides an opportunity for you to jump ahead of the pack. Either way, most businesses in the current marketplace need some form of online presence.
Online advertising is growing at a rapid pace. The primary benefit of your business having an online presence is functionality that exceeds traditional print media, including:
- Advertising that is always available, 24/7.
- Access to a wider demographic.
- Online ordering and communication.
- The ability to easily change or update your content as often as required (compare this to the Yellow Pages).
However, because of these points, you need to treat your website just as you would your own physical office, shop or service. It should be professional looking and consistent with your existing branding.
Too often a business attempts to cut costs with a poorly designed or functioning website (sometimes by doing it themselves, other times by paying too little). A cheap website can actually lose you money in the long run by turning away potential clients or customers.
If you treat your website as an investment and do it properly, the return on your investment should far outweigh the costs over the long term.
In order to have an effective working relationship, I always feel that it is beneficial for a client to understand the web design process undertaken by myself.
Whilst there can be many steps to creating the finished product, they can generally be categorised as follows:
- 1. Groundwork
- 2. Design
- 3. Development
- 4. Administration
A common theme involved in all stages is regular communication, to ensure that both parties “remain on the same page” and are working towards the same goal.
Stage One: Groundwork
A website designed and developed by somebody other than yourself will be almost useless unless that designer has a considerable knowledge of your goals and objectives. As such, the first stage involves a lot of questions and knowledge sharing.
Questions that I generally begin with include:
- What are your business/personal goals behind the website? What do you want somebody to do when they visit your website?
- Who is your target audience?
- What sort of experience/emotion should a user have from visiting your website?
- What type of functionality do you require now, or in the future?
These initial questions normally create more questions, and so on.
This stage also involves providing education to the client. For the layman, it can be surprising to find out what can and can’t be achieved with a website.
How to get traffic to your website, commerce functionality, security and scalability are all important considerations that require an understanding from the website owner.
Added to this is the fact that there can be differences when comparing physical print media – including images and load times, fonts and typefaces, right down to variable viewing sizes and accessibility.
Once enough information has been garnered and it is apparent that we are working together towards the same goals, a basic framework is prepared. This framework identifies the scope of the website, including size, functionality, basic user experience and any specific technology or programming that may be required.
It is important to also have a good idea about the actual content of the site, so that the next stage can built around it.
Stage Two: Design
The design stage can generally follow one of two paths – replication of existing branding (logos, colour scheme, etc.) or a complete new identity and branding design for a new product or business.
An effective website design should obviously consider the visual aspects such as colour theory, whitespace and typography, but should also consider the user experience (or usability) and the actual content of the website.
In most cases, mock-up designs are created and feedback is invited at regular intervals. Whilst it is important for the client to be able to have their ideas and vision translated into a website, it is equally important for the client to be able to take constructive criticism at times in terms of what works on the web.
In the early period of the design stage, mock-ups are generally created as static images – that is, they have no functionality. After the basic design framework is agreed upon, the design can be transferred to a live (but secure and private) environment where it is further developed.
Stage Three: Development
This is the stage where you start to see the user experience – that is, things start working. Areas like navigation states, contact forms, animated image galleries or slideshows, and e-commerce functions can come to life, allowing you to provide any suggestions to the way it looks and feels.
It is important to realise that at this stage, there may be certain areas of the site that may still need some “polish”. The main aim during this stage is to ensure that the site is functioning as intended.
Once the functionality has been finalised, the website needs to be tested across the various different internet browsers. Different programs (ie: Firefox, Internet Explorer) can and will display your website differently.
There is a lot of testing, tweaking, and polish – and then more testing, tweaking and polish throughout this stage. Once all is finalised, the website is transferred to the hosting server (whether arranged by me or the client). Final testing is also done on the live site, just to check that the final server settings match the production environment.
Once this stage is complete, congratulations are in order – your website is now live and working for you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
Stage Four: Administration
Administration of your website actually starts before the site goes live. A website needs two very important things – a domain name and hosting. This can be organised for you, or you may already have this arranged (for example, in the case of an existing website being redesigned).
In addition to this, you may require assistance in setting up and configuring any new email addresses related to the website.
Once the upfront administration is taken care of, generally it is easier for me to handle any ongoing administration to allow you to concentrate on your own business. An appropriate package can be costed upon further consultation.
Alternatively, a content management system (CMS) can be integrated into the website with training provided to allow you to update content yourself. This is done via logging into the “back-end” of the website, where you can add or remove content and pages, without affecting (or breaking!) the layout and functionality of the website as a whole.
Whether you choose to maintain your website or not, an ongoing relationship with a web designer is always beneficial from the viewpoint of growing your business via the online medium. Your web designer should be staying up-to-date on all current best practices and be able to suggest online strategies for your business from time to time.
Creating a website for your business the right way takes communication, specialist skills and time. Done the wrong way, you could be hindering your business without even realising.
This website has been designed to use a number of new enhancements available with CSS3. Whilst that may not mean much to you, “CSS” stands for “Cascading Style Sheets” and is the lines of code that affects the layout and presentation of a website. The “3” is representative of the latest version.
By using the latest standards in web development, amazing designs are being created that are challenging the way we have always viewed 2D web pages. However, some people never get to view these amazing pieces of art (both design and coding can be art!) because unfortunately, these latest standards are only supported by the latest internet browsers.
Firefox 3.6, Google Chrome 4.0 (Windows) or 5.0 (Mac), Safari 4.0 and Internet Explorer 8 are the current versions of the most widely used browsers. It is sad to see that some reports show that Internet Explorer 6 and 7 still have over 20% market share (February 2010) and IE6 is 9 years old! Internet browsers are free and quite easy to upgrade, so there really is no reason to not have the latest and greatest.
For what its worth, I recommend Firefox, for both Mac and PC users. As soon as you’re finished here, why don’t you go and upgrade if you need to.
Of course, using CSS3 doesn’t mean that your website won’t work in older browsers – I make sure that it’s all about progressive enhancement and graceful degradation. Basically, some components of the website may not look the same, but it will still be quite functional and look good in its own right.