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David Ziguras April 2nd, 2009

Web design is a process of concept creation. It is the planning, structuring and execution of digital media aimed for delivery via the Internet. Website design is usually in the form of technologies suitable for interpretation and display by web browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Mozilla.

The typical aim of web design is to create a website. A website is a collection of files stored on one or more servers – that presents the sites content to the end user – via web browsers. Such elements as text, forms, and images can be placed on each web page using HTML, XHTML, or XML tags. Displaying more complex media (such as vector graphics, animations, videos, sounds) usually requires plug-ins such as Flash, and QuickTime.

Improvements in the various browsers’ compliance with W3C standards prompted a widespread acceptance of XHTML and XML in conjunction with Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to position and manipulate web page elements. The latest standards and proposals aim at leading to the various browsers’ ability to deliver a wide variety of media and accessibility options to the client, possibly without employing plug-ins.

Typically web pages are classified as static or dynamic.

• Static pages don’t change content and layout with every request unless someone technical, managing the site manually updates the page.

• Dynamic pages adapt their content and/or appearance depending on end-user input or interaction or changes (user, time, database modifications).

Content can be changed on the client side (end-user’s computer) by using client-side scripting languages (JavaScript, JScript, ActionScript, media players and PDF reader plug-ins) to alter DOM elements (DHTML). Dynamic content is often compiled on the server utilising server-side scripting languages (PHP, ASP, Perl, Coldfusion, JSP, Python, etc.). Both approaches are usually used in complex applications.

With growing specialisation within communication design and information technology fields, there is a strong tendency to draw a clear line between web design specifically for web pages and web development for the overall logistics of all web based services.

A website is typically a collection of information about a particular topic or subject. Designing a website is defined as the arrangement and creation of web pages that in turn make up a site. A web page consists of information for which the web site is developed. A website might be compared to a book, where each page of the book is a web page.

There are many aspects (design concerns) in this process, and due to the rapid development of the Internet and technology surrounding it, new aspects will continue to emerge at rapid pace. For non-commercial web sites, the goals may vary depending on the desired exposure and response. For typical commercial web sites, the basic aspects of design are:

• The content: the substance, and information on the site should be relevant to the business and should target the area of the public that the website is concerned with.
• The usability: the site should be user-friendly, with the interface and navigation simple and reliable.
• The appearance: the graphics and text should include a single style that flows throughout, to show consistency. The style should be professional, appealing and relevant.
The visibility: the site must also be easy to find via most, if not all, major search engines and advertisement media. This will require Search Engine Optimisation, and Search Engine Marketing.

A website typically consists of text and images. The first page of a web site is known as the Home page or Index. Some web sites use what is commonly called a Splash Page. Splash pages might include a welcome message, language or region selection, or disclaimer. Each web page within a website is an HTML file which has its own URL.

After each web page is created, they are typically linked together using a navigation menu composed of hyperlinks. Faster browsing speeds have led to shorter attention spans and more demanding online visitors and this has resulted in less use of Splash Pages, particularly where commercial web sites are concerned. This is now referred to as being poor usability.

Once a website is completed, it must be published or uploaded in order to be viewable by the public over the Internet. This may be done using an FTP client. Once published, the web designer or developer may use a variety of techniques to increase the traffic, or hits, that the website receives.

Website design crosses multiple disciplines of information systems, information technology and communication design. A website is an information system whose components are sometimes classified as front-end and back-end. The observable content (e.g. page layout, user interface, graphics, text, audio) is known as the front-end. The back-end comprises the organisation and efficiency of the source code, invisible scripted functions, and the server-side components that process the output from the front-end.

Depending on the size of a web development project, it may be carried out by a multi-skilled individual, or a project manager may oversee collaborative design between design & development team members with specialised skills.

We hope this brief overview helps.

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