Basic Web Site Design Build A Site
Potential exposure on the Internet is tremendous. It is critical that your Web site
reflects your company in a positive, professional way. You must know exactly what you are
trying to accomplish through the site and make sure it projects an image you are
It is not difficult to set up a web site. The real task is to set up a good web site
that meets your companys goals and objectives. Web site development is eighty
percent design and twenty percent programming.
This tutorial provides a guideline to the steps for building a proper web site, one
that reflects your company the way you want the rest of the world to see it. The steps
incorporate the design and development process as well as several comments on dealing with
the design consultant.
There are eight steps for building and publishing a web site; startup, preliminary
design, signon, detailed design, prototyping, development, implementation, and signoff.
The Startup phase gets you organized to start working on the development of the site.
The first step is to pick your development team. This may
be just one person filling all functions in a very small environment or several people
from different areas of your company. The key responsibilities are:
Project Manager The authority figure. This person makes all decisions on your
companys behalf. They will approve the initial estimate and authorize the start of
the Detail Design phase (Signon). The Manager will approve the final estimate and give
final approval for the site when it is complete (signoff). They will also make all interim
decisions during the design stage and authorize payment to any consultants used. The
Project Manager is responsible for making sure the company gets what it wants from the
development team. This should be senior staff member from your company.
Project Coordinator The detail person. The Coordinator works with the
development team to design the site and monitor the development process. The coordinator
is responsible for arranging the resources and personnel required by the development team
to customize the site to the companys needs. The Coordinator will be the main
contact person for the development team and will be the in-house support person for
on-going maintenance and changes to the site. This person should be a staff member from
Project Analyst The design person. The analyst is responsible for working
with company personnel and resources to determine the content, layout, and look of the web
site. This is the most critical function in the development of a successful site and you
should have an analyst with many years of design experience. This is Acorns main area
of expertise. The analyst will interview the necessary employees and research the company
to determine what the goals and objectives are. They will then translate these needs into
a site design and determine the development requirements. This person would usually be a
Project Programmer The site builder. The programmer will generate the HTML
code that will make the web site do what you want. They will also build any prototypes
used during the design stage and test all components of the site to be sure it is ready
for publishing once complete. This person would usually be a consultant.
It is important to set a budget range prior to the
preliminary design stage. You should never give the consultant a "blank cheque"
and you should never tell them how much you are willing to spend. You should determine a
range as best you can and keep the numbers in-house until the consultant completes the
Preliminary Design. You may be off in your budget estimate but you at least have a
starting point for determining whether the project is feasible from your point of view.
Pick a design consultant. Design is critical to the
success of your web site. Pick a consultant who is very familiar with systems design, the
Internet, and the business world. A firm grasp of all three is required to build a good
site. Acorn has the expertise and experience to fulfill this function.
The purpose of the Preliminary Design is to set the scope for the project and prepare
a preliminary estimate.
The Analyst will interview key people in your company to determine what the
companys goals and objectives are. Several key criteria will be examined to
determine which development tools and process are required. The data for the site is
analyzed to determine the best method for presenting it and any background processing
required. On-going maintenance procedures are also identified at this point.
The preliminary design also determines what level of custom graphics design is
required for the site. Graphics have a huge impact on the sites effectiveness. The
trade off here is budget versus impact. A key consideration is the presence of any
marketing programs in the company. The site must fit the corporate image, not dilute it.
A Site Scope document should be prepared that outlines the parameters and boundaries
for development. The scope is then used to determine the initial estimate.
Discussion regarding the choice of a Domain name and a Host ISP should commence during
The preliminary design should be approved by the Project Manager to officially kick
off the development project. The company should have no obligation up to this point other
then a pre-agreed price for the Site Scope document from the consultant/design team.
The detail design involves fleshing out the preliminary design to the web document
level and laying out the pages that will be included in the site. All data must be
followed through to actual presentation on the site and all processes must be laid out in
The page layouts and links must be defined as well as outside links and references.
Site graphics must be finalized and sourced.
Maintenance requirements must be laid out and finalized in this phase.
Host requirements must be finalized in this phase.
The final cost estimate must be prepared for the Project Manager.
The Project Manager must approve the final cost estimate to proceed to the next phase.
Acorn uses Microsoft's FrontPage98 development software to build sites. This allows us
to quickly prepare samples of what your site will look like and let you select various
themes and features that make your site feel like home to you.
Prototyping is a critical step in getting what you want out of your Internet presence.
You will learn what is available, what is easy / hard to do, and what your options are. It
also lets you contribute very meaningfully to the site design phase.
It is time to start building the site once a detailed design has been prepared. The
proper HTML and scripting codes must be written to build your web pages the way you want
them. Now the site will start to grow as a real concept.
Supporting documents and data must also be prepared so the programmers can load the
material into the site. Be sure that your material is being prepared by a
professional. The data must be well written, concise, accurate, and reflect the tone of
All linking mechanisms must be programmed and tested. Graphics must be developed,
approved, and programmed. Maintenance procedures must be built.
The developer should hold interim meetings with your staff to show progress to date
and let you see where the site is going. It should not be presented to you as a large
surprise at the end.
The implementation phase should commence once the development phase is well underway.
Details should be finalized with the ISP hosting your site. A
Domain Name should be reserved through the ISP if it has not
already been registered. The Dialup accounts and e-mail accounts should be set up with the ISP and the browser and mail program installed on your local p/c. Staff should
be fully trained on the use of all programs and the concepts
they are dealing with when using the Internet.
It is critical that the ISP configure your host site for the FrontPage
extensions if your site was developed using FrontPage 98/2000. Your site will not
work properly otherwise. Also, make sure that the ISP is providing enough access bandwidth, storage space, and activity levels to meet your
The second last step is to complete a walk through of the site
witht he consultant. It is critical that you be happy with the site before it is posted to
the Internet. Your staff should be trained enough to do the walk through themselves and
have time to discuss the site and make notes.
The final step is to publish your pages up to the ISP's
hosting computer. This makes your site available to the Internet. You are now in business
on the Net.
The final step in preparing your world wide web presence is to signoff
the site and release payment to the consultant. You should not release final
payment until you are happy that you have what you agreed to pay for.
Most successful sites use new and interesting information to draw users back to your
site. You should be updating on a regular basis to post new
information and retrieve feedback information. This can
be done on a daily, weekly, monthly basis depending on
Updating a site requires the acquisition and preparation of the source data to be
loaded and the publishing of the data to the web site. Net Profiles offers both of these services
to our clients.
Acquisition of the data is best done by your staff. It is important that any data
going to the site reflects your company's image in the right way. It can be costly
to have the consultant gathering up information within your organization.
Publishing the data to the web site is best handled by the consultant as they already
have the software and connections in place if they published your site originally. You
should be charged a clerical rate for that service as it is mostly re-typing the data into
the page format and re-publishing it.
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Contact NPI to help you start designing a web site that will meet your needs for a
reasonable cost. We charge a nominal fee to complete the Preliminary Design.
The following terms are used in this tutorial. You should be comfortable with the
following definitions before proceeding. We would be happy to answer any questions you
a worldwide collection of
computers connected via a very sophisticated network allowing data to flow between any two
computers on the net over a multitude of alternate paths. The Information Superhighway.
The World Wide Web
a vast collection of pages
of information linked by Hyper-links and accessed by search engines. There are billions of
pages of every type of information on the net. Pages are logically connected through
programmed hyper-links, allowing you to follow common chains of information from page to
page. Your web site becomes a collection of pages on the World Wide Web (WWW) when you
publish it. You will have hyper-links to pages in your site and pages to any other site
you choose to link to.
A Browser is a program you run on
your p/c which can read pages on the WWW. It is the program you use to "Surf The Weeb". Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape are the two main browsers in use.
Internet Service Provider
Commonly called an ISP. A Company with a large computer on the Internet who provides Internet access, e-mail
accounts and Hosting services to companies and individuals wanting access to the Internet.
We use IX Webhosting as our Service Provider and Host for this web site.
A low speed account set up with an ISP to access the Internet. The user is assigned a user id, a password, and, in most cases,
a local phone number to be used for connecting with the Internet. The user is actually
signing on to the ISPs computer when dialing in to the Internet. Dialup Accounts
usually come with one e-mail account included.
Speed Account - A high speed account, usually DSL or Cable, to access the Internet. The user is assigned a user id and password to be used for connecting with the Internet.
The Cable companies provide cable access and the phone companies provide
DSL which is a high speed service running over a phone line.
A service from an ISP that
gives you an Electronic Mail box on the their computer and sends/receives mail over the
Internet from that mailbox. One E-mail account is usually included with each Dialup
account. The user must have an e-mail program running on their p/c which creates a local
mailbox for the user. Mail is read and written in the local mailbox then transferred up to
the ISPs computer for distribution across the Internet.
A service provided by an ISP to
make your web site available to the rest of the Internet. The programming for your web
site is published up to the ISPs computer and run from there. The ISP will assign
you a fixed amount of disk space, based on your needs, and charge a fixed monthly amount
for running your site. Earthlink provides a ten megabyte Starter Site which is enough
space to host most small sites.
Registrar - A company who allocates domain names and
establishes the highest level lookup for finding your site on the web.
There are several registrars including Network Solutions, GoDaddy, TuCows,
CDNS (.ca domains), and others.
Name Services (DNS) - The second level search for converting
your domain name to an actual IP address. Each domain is hosted by one of
the registrars who set the DNS pointers to another computer which has a
table of domain names and IP address.
All computers on the internet are
assigned a unique numerical address (an IP) to identify them. Alternately, you can assign a Domain Name
to your site so people do not have remember your IP address. A Domain name is like a company name
except it is registered with a domain registrar (like Network Solutions) one company who assigns domain names across the
Internet. NPI's domain name is net-profiles.com. Our site is located on the World Wide
Web at address http://www.net-profiles.com
The registrar of your domain name
will point your name to a Domain Name Server (DNS) that will resolve the IP
address where your site is hosted.