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Web Design in Vancouver

Posted by on 04 May 2012 | Tagged as: Vancouver specific

The goal of this article is to give you a good idea about the options you have when creating a website or hiring someone to create a website for you. To this end, we ask and attempt to answer the following questions:

  • Should I choose a static, unchanging website or a dynamic, changing one?
  • Should I choose a website which I can update myself or is it OK to rely upon a Vancouver web designer to make the changes for me?
  • How should I approach web design if my budget is limited?
  • How much does web design in Vancouver tend to cost?
  • What web technologies do I have to choose from?

Introduction

web site logoThese days the web is ubiquitous – it can be accessed via our desktop computers, our laptops, our smart phones, and our tablets. Consequently, there is now a strong demand for web design in Vancouver as well as throughout the world. Individuals often want a website which will allow them to express themselves and communicate with others who share similar interests. Businesses, both big and small, often want a website which will promote their products and improve their sales.

Now wanting a website, for individual purposes or for business purposes, is a rather simple task. All you have to do is think to yourself: boy, wouldn’t it be great to have a website online where I can express myself and/or sell my product. The problem comes when you want to create this website or have it created for you as there are a number of factors you need to think about.

Important Web Design Decisions:

  • Do you want a static website or a dynamic one? It is important to determine, early on, whether your website will be constantly changing (dynamic) or not changing at all (static).
  • Who will create and update your website? First of all you need to determine who will be creating your website: will you do it yourself or will you hire a Vancouver web designer? Furthermore, once the website is done, you need to ask yourself: will I be updating my website or will I need to hire someone to do it for me?
  • What kind of capabilities do you need for your website? Most web tools/platforms come with a set of built in capabilities: blogging, commenting, theme installation … etc. However, they do not often come with e-commerce, forums, and social media built in. Do you need these special capabilities to be added on?
  • Where will you keep your website? Websites are generally placed on special “hosting” computers. Now “hosting” computers can be of 2 kinds: free and paid. You will need to determine which type of hosting you desire and why!
  • What is your budget? Before you begin it is important to have a general budget in place outlining what you are willing to spend on initial costs as well as maintenance. It is important to realize, though, that the more features you want, the larger your budget will be.

I’m sure that there are even more web design decisions that need to be made at some stage of the development and deployment process; however, these are the major ones. So without further ado, let’s look at each of these web design decisions in a bit more detail…

Static Web Design versus Dynamic Web Design

One of the first questions you should ask yourself is: will my website be static or dynamic?

  • A static website is a website where information, and the relationship between information, tends to remain constant. When you visit a static website you always see the same thing; furthermore, when you click on a link you are always taken to the same content.
  • A dynamic website is a website where information, and the relationship between information, tends to change quite frequently. When you visit a dynamic website you often see a list of recent posts or a bunch of information which is continually updated.

In this day and age almost all Vancouver web design is centered around the creation of dynamic websites. Why? There are a couple reasons. First off, most website owners want to add information to their site over time; individuals want to be able to update their site with new info while businesses want to be able to attract and interact with potential clients. Another reason why dynamic web design is popular is because it has become so easy to implement. In the old days everyone wanted dynamic websites; however, they were rather difficult and expensive to come by. These days most common web tools/platforms have dynamic abilities built right into them!

So, in summary, if you want to have a blog, or if you want to interact with readers/customers, or if you want to integrate e-commerce or … then you will want to go with a dynamic website. Simply put: choose dynamic web design!

Individual versus Hired

So you have decided that you want a dynamic website. The next question is: who will create this dynamic website? Will you create it yourself or will you need to hire a Vancouver web design specialist to do it for you? Furthermore, will you update the site once it has been created or will you, once again, hire a Vancouver web designer to do it for you?

To these questions we can think of 3 answers:

  1. You will do everything yourself: If you have the skills and the know how you can create your own website as well as update it. This is the cheapest option; however, this option requires the greatest amount of web design and computing skills.
  2. You will hire someone to do everything for you: If you have virtually no web design or computing skills then it is best to hire a Vancouver web designer to create your site as well as update it for you. Be aware that this will cost you the most as everything is being done professionally.
  3. You will hire someone for some things and do others yourself: This option has become extremely popular as it allows you to hire a qualified Vancouver web designer to do the difficult stuff like: creating the basic framework of your website, installing the appropriate add-ons, setting up the basic look and feel … etc. At the same time, it allows you to save money by doing simple things by yourself – adding blog entries, changing basic information … etc. Just remember that, if you are going to update your website by yourself, you need to choose an easy-to-use web tool/platform. A platform like WordPress is great because it acts almost like Microsoft Word – a program nearly everyone is familiar with!

Website Add-ons

One of the important questions you need to ask yourself is: what types of capabilities do I need for my website? Do I only need a site which can add blog entries or do I need some kind of complicated functionality, like the ability to sell products?

We here at Seymour Computer Repair find that most individuals only need the basics; a simple website with a blog and a commenting system are enough. Consequently, they generally don’t have to worry about add-ons. Businesses, on the other hand, sometimes require special features such as the ability to sell products online.

In case you are wondering, most web tools/platforms provide the following basic capabilities by default:

  • A static front page: Most websites have a front page (home page) which remains relatively static as well as a blog where new information is being added on a daily/weekly basis. This static front page provides users with a feeling of familiarity.
  • A blog: A blog is an area where website owners can regularly, or irregularly, post new articles and keep their readers up to date on whatever topic is of interest.
  • A comment system: A comment system is a system which allows readers and writers to easily communicate with one another via a website, relinquishing their need to rely upon external forms of communication such as email. Comment systems have become increasingly popular as individuals and businesses wish to keep in touch with their readership.
  • A basic menu: A menu allows web users to easily navigate a website in order to find exactly what they want.
  • Theme Support: A theme is a particular “look and feel”; it comprises: the colours a website users, the pictures a website uses, the placement of elements in a website … etc.. Since so many people want websites which look completely different most web tools/platforms allow you to easily add or remove pre-made themes which can be purchased or downloaded for free.

Most web tools/platforms allow for the following capabilities but they do not include them by default:

  • E-commerce: E-commerce, a shorthand for electronic commerce, is a general principle whereby users can come to your website and purchase products as opposed to just viewing information. E-commerce is particularly popular with businesses as it allows them to sell both physical items as well as non-physical items online.
  • Forums: As mentioned above, most web tools/platforms provide a basic comment system whereby a reader can post a comment for a writer (and other website readers) to read and respond to. Forums are like an advanced comment system in which topics and comments are categorized and organized – allowing for a wide range of discussions to occur at once.
  • A special “look and feel”:  Some website owners need an advanced “look and feel” which moves beyond the basics; this can include specialized menus, photo galleries, unconventional layouts … etc. Generally speaking, the more specific your requirements are, the more advanced the setup will be.

It is important to remember that a website with few add-ons will likely cost less money because it takes less time to design. If your design requirements are lenient then the price will likely be lower. If your design requirements are rigid then the price will likely be higher. Ultimately: the more customization, the higher the price.

Free Web Hosting versus Paid Web Hosting

Whether you create your own website or hire a Vancouver web designer/developer, at some point you are going to need to decide where your website will be hosted. If you are unfamiliar with what the term “hosted” means fear not! Simply keep reading and we will attempt to explain this concept as well as your options.

A website has 3 basic components:

  1. The website contents: The website contents includes all of the text and images which make up your website. Additionally it includes all of the files (HTML, PHP, Javascript) that make up the web tool/platform which you have decided to use.
  2. The domain name: The domain name is the name of your website. For example, our domain name is: “computerrepair-vancouver.org” – you can see this domain name at the top of your web browser. This means that whenever you type “computerrepair-vancouver.org” into your web browser you will always be sent to our site. In order for this to happen you have to register your name with a domain name company – we happen to use GoDaddy.
  3. The web host: The web host is the location where your website contents are kept. You may assume that you can host your website on your own computer; however, this is generally not the case. Rather, you have to use someone else’s computer – a computer which has been specially setup to host a website. Generally speaking, you can choose to use either a free web host or a paid web host.

As mentioned above, you can generally choose to use a free web host or a paid web host. While free web hosting may sound like the obvious answer, it does have some limitations. These include:

  • A free web hosting company can remove your website if they choose and there is little you can do about it.
  • A free web host will generally limit the types of add-ons that you can use on your site.  For example, they may not allow you to install certain e-commerce plug-ins.
  • A free web host will, in general, not allow you to choose an exact domain name. For example, Blogger requires that your website name include “.blogspot.com” at the end of it. Therefore, instead of naming your website “MyName.ca”, you would need to name it “MyName.blogspot.com”.

We here at Computer Repair Vancouver think that if your website is simply a hobby then go with free web hosting. You won’t have nearly as much control; however, this likely isn’t a big deal and you will save a chunk of money. If, on the other hand, your website is a business or something you want control over then go with paid web hosting. This option will be more expensive, but will likely be well worth it.

Web Design Cost

The cost of web design in Vancouver generally depends upon the factors discussed above. To summarize:

  • A website that you build yourself will be cheaper than a website where you hire a Vancouver web designer.
  • A website that you personally update will be cheaper than a website where you hire a Vancouver web designer to make updates.
  • A simple website with few add-ons will be cheaper than a website with advanced features such as: e-commerce, forums, or a custom look and feel.
  • A free web hosting package will, obviously, be cheaper than a paid web hosting package. Of course the free web hosting package likely comes with limitations.

So how much does it generally cost to have a website created for you? This can be difficult to estimate as it often depends upon the requirements of the job – but here is a general outline as to the costs involved.

  • Purchasing a domain name (from a place like GoDaddy.com) will cost you around $10 – $20 per year.
  • Purchasing web hosting (from a place like Hostgator.com) will cost you around $50 – $70 per year
  • Vancouver web designers/developers generally charge per hour or per project. Per hour rates are generally between $30 and $60; furthermore, a basic site might take around 10 hours to create while a complex site might take 20, 30, 40 … hours to create depending upon what needs to be implemented.

In the end, don’t be surprised if your website costs anywhere between $500 and $1500. Luckily, most of the expenses are one time fees!

Common Web Design Scenarios

So far we have provided a great deal of discussion on a number of topics related to web design. We are now going to look at a few common scenarios you may find yourself  – and how you can approach these scenarios!

You wish to create a simple personal website

Individuals who wish to create a simple personal website will likely be able to do so by themselves at a minimal cost. In such situations, Seymour Computer Repair recommends that you go and visit Blogger or WordPress.com where you can set up a freely hosted website with very little effort.

The benefit of tools such as Blogger and WordPress.com are:

  • They provide you with a free domain name and web hosting space.
  • They are designed for the computer beginner/novice. Consequently, performing certain tasks, like modifying the theme or adding basic functionality, is quite easy. In fact, using Blogger or WordPress.com is much like using Microsoft Word as they tend to stick to the word processor paradigm.
  • They are large, reliable services which have been around for quite some time and won’t die anytime soon.

The problem with tools such as Blogger and WordPress.com are:

  • They are customizable only up to a point. Adding advanced features, such as forums or e-commerce plugins, might be difficult or even impossible.
  • You will not have total control over your domain name (as discussed above). Instead of “MyName.ca” you will have to go with something like “MyName.blogspot.com”.
  • Blogger and WordPress.com can take down your site if you are doing something they disapprove of. This, however, is unlikely unless you are acting in an obviously flagrant manner!

Overall, we believe that it is a good idea to use Blogger or WordPress.com, or a similar centrally managed web network, for hobby sites. This is because they are both free to use and are easy to set up – negating any need for Vancouver web design or development.

You wish to create a professional looking portfolio site or business site

For more advance websites, or for websites where the requirements are more stringent, you are likely better served by buying a domain name and web hosting. You can then hire a Vancouver web designer to create your website with a full featured web tool such as WordPress.org (the self hosted variety), Joomla, or Drupal. In general, we would recommend that you go with WordPress although we must admit that we are biased – as this is what we are accustomed to.

We recommend WordPress websites because:

  • They are quite easy to set up.
  • They are extremely easy to update; it is basically as if you are working with Microsoft Word.
  • There are a huge number of free and paid themes available.
  • There are a huge number of free and paid plugins available for website customization/functionality.

The one problem with a WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal website is that they are a little more involved than Blogger or WordPress.com when it comes to setup. Additionally, they require that you have your own domain name and web hosting space. Ultimately, what we are trying to say is that they will cost you money.

Summary

As you can see, there are a number of questions you must ask and answer before heading down the road of website ownership. These include:

  • Will I create my website or hire a Vamcouver web designer to create it for me?
  • Will I update my website or hire a Vancouver web designer to do it for me?
  • Will my website be simple or complex?
  • Will I make use of free or paid web hosting?
  • What is my budget for all of these tasks?

In the end we recommend that hobbyists take a look at a free route like using Blogger or WordPress.com. These are powerful, centrally managed web networks which allow you to do a surprising number of things for free. On the other hand, if you are creating a portfolio or business website we recommend that you hire a Vancouver web designer/developer and look into a WordPress, Joomla, or Durpal website. This route will cost you several hundred to several thousands of dollars; however, it will provide you with a great deal of flexibility.

In any case, we hope you have enjoyed our article – and if you are in the need of a website don’t hesitate to contact us, Seymour Computer Repair, as we are very knowledgeable when it comes to WordPress design and development!

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