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The basics of website construction

Web Site Design Buyer's Guide

There are four components to website construction:

  • the front end
  • the back end
  • hosting the site
  • e-commerce services

The front end
The content of your website, known as the front end, consists of text and images. Graphic designers give advice about your choice of illustrations and photographs, the style of text font and size, and the layout of each website page. They know how to project a strong visual image on a computer screen, and what they can and can't achieve with the available technology.

Good design, however, doesn't guarantee a good website. Above all, visitors to a site must be able to use it quickly and simply. A complex design can confuse visitors; if so, they'll probably leave the website as soon as they can.

So think twice before choosing a graphic designer on the strength of a design portfolio. Instead, ask designers to give you the web addresses of sites they've worked on. Then visit the sites to see how they look and how easy they are to use.

Also note that even if you employ a graphic designer, you may still have to supply images pictures of your products, for example. Ask the designer how many pixels these pictures should be and stick to this guidance. You'll also have to provide the text or hire a writer to produce it for you.

The back end
Web developers write a back end code called Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) that builds the site and allows it to work. It enables your visitors' browsers to see your text and images on their screens.

Web developers also use other back end terms that are worth knowing.

  • ASP (active server pages) and PHP (hypertext pre-processor). These enable your site to gather data from visitors and show account details.
  • CSS (cascading style sheets). CSS allows you to use a central file to manage the appearance of your website.
  • Flash. This gives your website features such as animation and interactive menus. A number of sites have Flash animation on their first page, but when faced with this many visitors immediately exit. The best advice is to avoid a Flash animated first page and cut your costs at the same time.
  • Javascript. This is a scripting language that provides certain animations; gives you the option of pop-up windows (but not pop-up ads); and ensures visitors have completed any online forms correctly.

Hosting the site
Websites don't exist on the Internet in their own right. They need Internet connected computers known as servers to run them.

There are many companies with servers that can host your website. The complexity of the site will determine the type of server but most companies will manage your needs.

When you're looking for a hosting service, first read our Site hosting Buyer's Guide. It gives you invaluable advice such as always using a service that provides data security and backup.

E-commerce services
E-commerce is the phrase that describes the sale of products on the Internet. When web developers build e-commerce sections for websites they use different back end tools, but most website design companies will quote you for an e-commerce solution to your needs.

About BuyerZone

BuyerZone is the leading online marketplace for business purchasing.

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  • Company founded in 1992
  • UK site launched in January 2008
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