Quick Terminology Check
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Following are key identification definitions in evaluating graphic web design. These terms are used by most professional firms, so you will be on even footing as you begin to evaluate potential solutions. These terms are not all-inclusive, and are meant to be used a a fast familiarization tool.
Click here for In-Depth Glossary and technical definitions:
A way of allowing visitors to navigate into and through your web site through a single graphical representation or through a series of informational points that lead to additional pages of content.
A scaleable compressed algorithm developed by Macromedia that creates an animated entry spot. Used extensively for "WebMercials"; key selling points of your organization’s products or services. Based on overall file size, sound may also be appropriate to further reinforce messaging.
Flash is now installed on over 93% of browsers worldwide. The download for this plug-in is approximately 150K, or 12 seconds on an intermediate modem speed on an average Internet traffic day.
Navigational "buttons" that allow visitors access to the sub-pages through graphical "click on" buttons. Also known as "GUI", or Graphical User Interface.
Mouseovers are a design element within site navigation; when a cursor is positioned over a navigational graphic, it will change effect. Both programming and design of these elements can add visual interactivity with the user.
Serves as a graphical page heading so users can quickly confirm that what they clicked on led them to the correct place. Headers for each sub-page match the same graphical representation of the corresponding navigational element, creating continuity throughout the site.
A trend incorporating Flash elements is also currently being seen.
The title bar at the top of the page, formerly used as a page identifier, is now used for the search engines.
Acts as a graphical 3-D watermark for your page, and can also reinforce any primary graphical imagery you are trying to convey to a target audience. Simple corporate logos can be effective, while graphical backgrounds can enhance your statement to your target segments.
A solid color can also be extremely effective, speeding download while maintaining a "clean" look and feel.
Ideally scanned from negatives, transparencies and 35MM, photos can greatly enhance the visual graphical appeal of your web site with minimal expense. The goal is to create a high resolution photo with minimum byte size; Grant Communications can accomplish this through the use of advanced MAC-and PC-based applications.
Preferred file types (if electronic) are:
The ultimate goal of any marketing program is the collection of qualified leads. A form is far more effective than a simple request for EMAIL, due to the limiting factor of responses from customers. A form is far more interactive and engaging than a free form request for information.
Hypertext Markup Language. HTML is the universal programming language that crosses all platforms on the Internet, allowing the ultimate in interoperability of your marketing message.
HTML is not a formatting tool, though it does have some formatting capabilities. Leading, kerning and tracking are not supported, thus limiting total control on both viewing and printability.
This is the actual text information that is converted from some other electronic format and is placed on the web for customer’s review. This can include information about your company, products, services and complex tables that provide technical specifications on your products.
The process of integrating supplied text with the graphical interface/site navigational elements, as well as all scans, screen captures and other graphics.
CSS, or "Cascading Style Sheets", allows far greater control in the physical attributes within HTML. Uniform font types and sizes can be mandated, bypassing user control on altering text size. This has a great benefit in more tightly controlling what a visitor to your site can physically see, and also allow a site-wide change in font use by changing the css file.
Netscape 4.05 and higher does experience inconsistencies in how it views the css file attributes, causing an ongoing design challenge.
Dynamic HTML was accepted as an augmentation of HTML by the World Wide Web (W3) Consortium in 1998, and is supported by V. 4.0 browsers and higher. Absolute positioning using layers and dynamic content flying in by a controlled timeline sequence became possible, though with difficulty using Netscape 4.05 and higher.
The post-launch marketing of your site is more important than your actual site itself. Your customers must be provided with easy means of access to your site, through registering with all search engines. Additionally, registering of key search words (the primary means of customers accessing your site) must also be done, allowing ease of access through multiple avenues.
Key components for effective search engine marketing include:
Creates visual appeal through motion, thus carrying your audience further into the web site. Also reinforces specific educational goals you are trying to accomplish with your audience through visual reinforcement. Highly-effective animations can be created by Grant Communications, including cycling company logos, graphical images and banner ads with small byte size.
An alternative to gif animations can also be created using the far-clearer and smaller jpg file format for pictures (pixel/raster-based images) through the use of a timeline on a loop.
4 main web server operating systems (each with a host of server software) exist on the market today; UNIX, MAC, NT and Linux.
The 2 main types as of today (though Linux is growing rapidly) is UNIX and Microsoft NT. Each handles file management and information processing differently. UNIX is faster, NT is easier to modularize. The biggest difference, though, that anyone will see is in the programming of interactive databases for these 2 systems.
UNIX programming is based on CGI and Perl; complex languages where code is built in one file that can be 100,000 lines long. The detriment to this is that the scripts need to decompile, slowing a server down. Additionally, debugging 100,000 lines of code, is, shall we say, tedious.
NT programming is based on Active Server Pages (ASP), which allow a series of scripts to run. A more complex database program may consist of 20 related files of 20 lines of code each. Faster to build, faster to debug. And no compiling, which speeds up server speed.
Finally, our line is on LAMP development using PHP scripting on the Linux servers. LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) development has become synonomous with lightning fast server and client response times, relatively inexpensive engineering costs, scaleability and speed.
Using CGI/Perl, PHP (Linux/UNIX server) or ASP (NT server), a series of scripts interact with a database sitting on a server from a user’s (client’s) browser. Information is entered in temporarily, allowing calculations to be performed, multiple items to be selected and final on-line transaction processing to occur.
Each browser will look at a page slightly differently; colors may be a touch off (even using "web safe" colors), and printing layout may also shift.
By mid-1997, Microsoft became determined to dominate what it once considered a "passing fad", and pushed it’s engineers to design a true modular browser engine, and launched Internet Explorer 3.0 soon thereafter.
With the stakes high, new versions to these 2 engines accelerated. Netscape received much corporate support through it’s marketing of a proprietary server management tool, and soon launched the V. 4.05. Because of it’s code design, any alterations from this point forward soon showed flaws in it’s handling of HTML as approved by the W3 consortium, and caused many headaches for design firms worldwide.
Then Microsoft announced it’s server solution; NT. Shipping with this product, as well as pre-installed on all Windows operating systems, was their new browser; V. 4.0. Database work for the web, once considered the property of programming geniuses only, now showed Microsoft’s strengths. Using Visual Basic as the interface language, any mid-level programmer could start to program for database interactivity using modular ASP code.
Today, all sites need to be designed for Netscape 4.0 level for operability. "If it works in Netscape, it should be fine in IE. If it works in IE, it may not work in Netscape".
Note: The Beta for Netscape 6.0 was released in May, 2000. Many current HTML conventions using DHTML (hidden vs. visible layers, etc.) appear to NO LONGER be supported. We have discontinued using these design features until we have received a response from Netscape or the users groups tied to the W3 Consortium…
The ongoing updating to your web site, which should be reviewed on a minimum of a quarterly basis. Files sometimes become corrupt on a server, so it’s always helpful if you know what the current status of your site is.
A simple addition to a "What’s New" section, for instance, will not only give updated information to potential clients, but will also help with some of the search engines. Some of the engines check on file date, giving preference to not only the oldest sites, but also to those sites that have current file dates.
Creates visual moving appeal within text formats, and reinforces any subliminal messaging that you are attempting to impart.
Various methods are available for securing access to data, file downloads and other specific applications. Common applications for a secured certificate are shopping cart systems.
Many other services are also available; from internal search engines, through maintaining internet/intranet presence, chat room designs and 3-D imaging, threaded discussion boards, and helping you get established with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), web-print-design.com acts as your reference point for any of your marketing, advertising, and Web presence activities.
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