Shopping For a Web Site? Part 2
Welcome to the third and fourth tips in our “Shopping for a Web Site? Series”:http://blog.armadillostudios.ca/article/shopping-for-a-web-site-part-1. The final installment will come next week sometime, but in the meantime enjoy.
This week, we’re talking about Flash vs. HTML web sites and also which Web 2.0 terms are important for your business.
3. Why is a Flash based web site cheaper than a HTML/CSS/CMS site? What’s the difference?
We’re extremely biased when it comes to this question, but we advise our clients to stay away from _Flash Based web sites_. It’s a heated debate in the world of Web Design, but the majority of the industry has moved away from web sites solely based in Flash design towards HTML/CSS design.
In a nut shell, _Flash_ is a web program that is installed on your home page that acts as a web site. The benefits of Flash sites are easy that they are easy to build, relatively inexpensive and allow you to create some very cool effects. (big spirally intros, flashing lights, cool sound effects, etc,) In essence they are extremely flashy… _Yes, that pun was intended_.
BUT, Flash based web sites are filled with draw backs. First, they have a really weak relationship with search engines (a low SEO). Second, unless you own a copy of Adobe Flash (retails for $700 US) it is impossible to update. This means that any adjustments or updates to your site’s content will need to be done through your designer … and really who wants to be handcuffed to pay for the smallest change.
Third, Flash based web sites are not the most compatible with handheld devices (Blackberries, iPhones), older Internet Browsers and even web readers for disabled users. So while your site will look very pretty, you’re probably going to alienate a good section of your potential clients.
All in all, the cool little gimmicks of Flash based web design do not make up for the glaring holes.
*Armadillo Tip*: _All the gimmicks and cool little gizmos of Flash based design can be emulated in a HTML design. There are dozens of java scripts and AJAX plugins, which allow Web Designers far more flexibility with standard HTML design. So stick with HTML design._
_Now we are not advocating ignoring Flash altogether, as there are dozens of flash based apps and plug-ins, which can dramatically enhance your site’s overall appearance. What we are advocating is that instead of taking the easy and inexpensive way out with a full Flash based web site, look at making the investment in a straight HTML/CSS site._
4. What Are All These Web 2.0 Terms? And Do You Need to Understand SEO, CMS, SMS, Web 2.0 & Social Networking?
Yes and no.
Like every industry, the Web Design Indsutry has its trends and it’s catch phrases. These just happen to be the ones being bantered about our industry at the moment. It may seem that every designer you contact will be regurgitating these phrases at a horrific rate. _So, what do these terms really mean_?
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the most important term you’ll need to know at the moment. In a nut shell it just means how strongly your web site will rank on the first page of Search Engine Results. The stronger your SEO rating the greater likelihood that your web site will be on the front page of Google or Yahoo.
Web 2.0 & Social Networking are terms used to “describe a new way of looking at the Internet”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0. Before 2004, web sites were very informational and very static. Since then, web sites have evolved to become more interactive and community orientated. Having a web site that takes advantages of the worlds of Web 2.0 & Social Networking will increase your reach and will probably connect you to more customers.
BUT, you’ll only want to involve yourself with networks or communities that appeal to your clientele. If you’re a photographer, you’ll want to incorporate your work into photo sharing sites like “Flickr”:http://www.flickr.com. If you’re a Rockabilly Country Act, you’ll want to create a “MySpace page”:http://www.myspace.com, create a “Facebook fan page”:http://www.facebook.com and even embed some music on your web site. On the other hand, an Oil & Gas Consulting firm probably won’t start contributing video footage to “YouTube”:http://www.youtube.com or “Vimeo”:http://www.vimeo.com. And they probably won’t set-up a Facebook fan page, _but a consulting firm_ might develop a corporate blog and start showcasing their industry expertise for free.
CMS (Content Management Systems) are fantastic tools. We recommend anyone even thinking of building a web site to pay the extra money to have these included in their design.
A CMS is a basic application installed on your web site that essentially allows you to control the content of your site. Most can be accessed via the internet and most will allow you to change information on your web site in a jiffy. Depending on the features of the design you can even great news articles, stories or updates for your web site.
The big benefit here is that it gives the power to you – the customers. With a tradition HTML or Flash based web site, if you need to change your company’s phone number you’ll have to pay your web design an hour or two for them to go in and make that small change. But with a CMS, you can log in and make the change yourself.
SMS simple stands for “Short Messaging Service”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_message_service, is a technical way to describe Text Messaging.
Many web apps and Social networking sites are incorporating SMS elements in to their structure. The micro blogging web site Twitter allows users to receive and send updates via SMS on a constant basis. While the mobile version of Facebook allows users to update and add pictures to their profile via SMS technology.
It’s an interesting component of that is taking Web Design an the internet mobile.
*Armadillo Tip*: _Take advantage of the ability of sites such as Flickr, Vimeo, Revver and Facebook, that have created API (“Application Program Interface:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/API) which allows integration between these Social networking sites and your own web site. Utilizing API’s is a solid way to increase your web site’s traffic and increase its exposure._
The “3rd article”:http://www.armadillostudios.ca/shopping-for-a-web-site-part-3/ in this series will discuss the potential costs and the time it takes to build a web site.