Web briefings

The Web is rapidly developing in importance but the newness of the medium means much about is poorly understood.

These briefings cover key Web and website issues. They are intended to help potential buyers and current owners of websites. We hope you find them easy to read and informative.

What is Web Design?

Summary: Web Design is an umbrella term for an increasingly multi-disciplinary specialism. It is less about graphic design in a Web environment, and more about a widening set of skills, including Web graphic design, needed for a website to make the Web work to best effect.

The murky world of Search

Summary: Very popular, the big three search engines continually refine their methods to give more relevant search results, and weed out unscrupulous operators playing their systems. Add in new competitors and changing websites and the result is search engine rankings that vary over time, with each website’s ranking often under threat.

Avoid losing visitors due to browser/website defects

Summary: Your website is experienced through a Web browser. Many websites work well in Microsoft’s dominant Internet Explorer 6, but often not so well (even not at all) in the increasingly popular alternatives such as Mozilla’s Firefox. These Web browsers perform better, are easy to tailor to your specific needs, and standards compliant.

For a bigger audience, have your website built to Web standards and tested across browsers.

Accessibility, UK law…

Summary: Ideally, all websites could be used by - be accessible to - everyone. In practice, poorly built websites restrict access to many - a survey in 2004 found 80% of 1000 large websites could not be used by the disabled (about 20% of 16-65 year olds). This is probably unlawful under the DDA, UK law since 01-10-99.

For reasons of compliance, and to maximise the addressable market, all new websites should have accessibility built in to WCAG level A, or greater, especially if providing a service.

Standards! What standards?

Summary: Websites built to Web standards and tested across browsers usually have better search engine rankings, a larger audience, and compliance with disability rights legislation. They are forward compatible, and cost less to own. The drawback is that a higher skill level is needed to make them.

Why maintain your website? And how to do it?

Summary: Accurate and up-to-date information promotes trust. Websites with obvious discrepancies and errors drive potential customers away. So keeping a website up-to-date is good for business.

Websites can be updated in various ways, from simple-to-use systems up to full CMS’s, with the greater flexibility of the website designer/developer suiting many with infrequent, and variable, needs.

RSS: keep up-to-date easily

Summary: Gone is the need to visit each website to check for changes. Let an RSS reader installed on your computer bring them to you, even a modern browser, or use an online reader. How to set this up is explained.