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Role of Ecommerce Web Design in a Successful Business

September 23rd, 2018

In this era, it is important for every business to have an on-line store. It allows one to sell the products over the Internet. It consists of detailed descriptions of all your products, their price and a payment gateway as well. People come to your store, read about the products, select the desired one and finally make order after paying on-line. Since there is no limitation on number of customers, it can give your business a great height.

Success of on-line stores depends upon its e-commerce web design. Web design of e-commerce website should be attractive enough to attract visitors. It should leave a good impression at first sight so that visitors can go into more depth of website. Colors play an important role in creating web design, hence always use the perfect color combination while designing your e-commerce website. Try to keep the color contrast ratio as higher as possible. Use font color according to background otherwise it can irritate the readers.

Visitors show more interest in the product they want to purchase. Neither image nor content can compel visitors to go for purchase. Since they are going to purchase product so they want detailed description about it. Furthermore, your e-commerce web design should be structured enough so that visitor can reach to the desired product in minimum clicks. Try to keep all the products in appropriate category so that it is easy to find the one of a type.

An e-commerce website must include a shopping cart solution so that it becomes convenient for customers to purchase on-line. An effective e-commerce web design includes a shopping cart such as Ubercart in order to make the purchase more convenient. So while choosing an e-commerce development company make sure it is having enough experience in e-commerce development. It’s been clear here that an e-commerce web design is the dire need of an on-line store and can generate a lot of revenue for your business.

A professional web developer will not only be responsible for building your on-line store but also for the success of your on-line business. It’s your responsibility to provide all the essential ingredients to the developer so that he can live up to your expectations. In this competitive environment, it’s quite an onerous task to find the perfect one. So do a proper research before selecting one for your e-commerce website. This can bring more profit for your on-line business. So go for it.

Web Design Quick Fixes – Are Businesses Falling Foul of Free Website Generators?

September 21st, 2018

Buses in Cambridge are like web design in Cambridge: reliable, convenient and reasonably priced. However, I am given to understand that the story is not the same elsewhere. Indeed, books have been written on the subject of why such vehicles often come in threes. Suffice it to say that the hidden mathematics of everyday life also extend to the life of a freelance web developer. If I am asked about a particular web design topic or technique, no matter how obscure, I can pretty much guarantee that the question will crop up again very soon afterwards with a different client.

At the moment, in the land of web design in Cambridge, the burning web design issue is free website generators. Many web hosting companies offer these programs as a “quick start” to getting your business online. But do they work? If you haven’t got a lot of time, the short answer to the question: “Are website generators any good?” is: yes, for a limited time, then no.

Many business owners make the mistake of thinking that a website can be established and then left to mature like a fine wine. It isn’t the case. You can get immediate positive impact from a website, but after that point, it’s a bit of a labour of love. To keep yourself in the search engine rankings and encourage return visits from customers, you have to work hard at it: tweak page titles, descriptions and keywords; add new material and respond to user feedback. In short, you need to be creating noise around your site (albeit an excited buzz, not an annoying drone…) to keep things moving.

Free website generators address the immediate need, but some can fail to lay the groundwork for a sustainable website.

Use of images

The most common crime of the free website generator is to use images where text should be. This is hugely damaging for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) because search engine crawlers can’t read images, so your content is wasted: it’s not working for you. Text readers won’t be able to read your pages either, so disabled visitors don’t stand a chance of using your site.

Content Management

Many free website generators are intended to provide a starting-point, so once you’ve created your website, you may not have the opportunity to go back and edit your pages. One Cambridge web design client had the experience that meaningless URLs (e.g. A.html, B.html etc.) were being generated and could not be renamed, with the result that his pages could not rival those of his competitors. Changing page titles, descriptions and keywords are all important parts of managing your website which may not be available to you with this kind of program.

HTML validation: An experiment

As an experiment, I decided to run a website generated by one of these free website generators through the W3C Validator, a useful tool for web designers and developers, which can pick up on any errors in the code on the page. Such errors can represent accessibility issues which can prevent visitors from using your site properly. It wasn’t good news. The validator came up with 69 errors, beginning with failing to identify the document type, with no XML declarations at the beginning of the webpage.

You don’t have to be technical to understand that these are quite fundamental problems. The webpage hasn’t even declared what code it’s trying to use, so the validator doesn’t know where to start. Many other errors referred to HTML attributes which are now deprecated (i.e. no longer used) which also suggests that the website generators are not updated to reflect changes in XHTML standards.

Another Cambridge web design client’s website, also generated by one of these free programs, had far fewer validation problems. Why? Because the whole website was made up of images. The only reason the validator didn’t pick up on more problems was because it can’t read images in the same way as it can read text. This goes for Google, Bing and any other search engine you care to mention. If you fill your website with images and Flash instead of text, it can seriously damage your site’s performance in search engine rankings.

Why not try it out yourself?

Think of a search term and Google it. Most likely, on page 1 you will find text-rich websites which run through the W3C validator with few or no problems. Click on the last pages of Google and you will find sites dominated by images or created using Flash.

Sometimes designers make the decision to use images in place of text, mainly for cosmetic purposes. The number of fonts available in most web browsers can be limiting and can lead to a repetitive look and feel. However, with web design as with so many areas of life, you need to know what you’re ignoring. If it is a conscious design, fair enough, and knowledgeable web designers will probably take other steps to boost SEO in lieu of the images. However, if you’re a newcomer to web design, you may not even be aware of this distinction.

I think it is unfair that businesses – especially small and medium-sized businesses trying to economize – can be led to thinking that a free website generator is going to be enough to give their website a fighting chance. It is a false economy. It doesn’t pay to take these errors lightly in web design, because they prevent visitors (especially disabled visitors) from being able to use your site properly and can do serious damage to your Google ranking.

So if you are planning to use a free website generator, what can you do to ensure the quality of the result?

  • Start by searching the site for “web design”, “css” and “html validation”. These issues should be addressed upfront or in support documentation.
  • If possible, view a tutorial or trial the content management system (CMS) to ensure that you can manipulate the design in the way you want and that it’s easy to use.
  • If you can find an existing website produced with the same generator, try running the site’s URL through W3C’s website validator: http://validator.w3.org/ for yourself to see the results. This will let you know whether the HTML the generator produces is suitable.
  • When inspecting other sites, if you can’t highlight text, right-click. If you see the option “Save Picture As…”, you are looking at an image, not text, which could potentially cause accessibility and SEO issues.
  • What are the other options?

 
The other options available to you depend on how comfortable you feel with the process of web design and development and the level of commitment you are willing to provide. If you are willing to learn HTML and CSS or have someone in your organisation who is able to do so, you could try http://www.freecsstemplates.org/? This website provides great CSS webpage designs which are already validated and make a great basis for your own site. I used a template recently for a Cambridge playwright and author and found the templates to be well-designed and documented (you do need to retain a credit to the original web designer).

Alternatively, you could employ a local web designer to do the work for you. If you take this route, there are many more options you need to consider, but that’s a different topic for another day. Do your homework Whichever route you choose, the most important element of the process happens before you sign up to any package, whether free or paid. Invest your time before you invest your money – with the best will in the world, it’s the best way to ensure that your expectations are met and your online business flourishes.

How to Add File Upload Support to Your Web Site

September 19th, 2018

Introduction

Providing the ability for visitors to your web site to upload files from their computer allows for the implementation of some very powerful features, such as for example letting your users share files with other visitors, or decorate their online presence on your site with an identifying portrait or avatar. In general, allowing for a file upload provides an easier way to share a large amount of data rather than extensive and tedious form-filling. However, while the file upload feature has long been supported by most Internet browsers, the precise details of how it is done can be quite tricky; the devil is indeed in the details. In order to correctly use this feature, you will need to perform some work both in the HTML and on the server side, and if you are writing client software to upload the file to an existing web site, you will need to know some details.

In the HTML and Browser

Adding a file upload button to a web page is relatively easy; it is just another type of INPUT field within an HTML FORM. Setting the type attribute of the INPUT field to “file” will provide an input field that allows file selection. Note that the actual upload of the file requires a little bit more work, including some server-side coding, which will follow shortly. The INPUT field may have other attributes set on it, such as size, which will allow control over the size of the display of the selected file, which should be very similar to a text field.

At this point, it is already worth noting that this HTML is likely to vary in appearance considerably from browser to browser. Typically, the form control thus created will consist of what looks like a text field, accompanied by a button that will launch the system file selector. Already, the appearance of the word “looks” should indicate there are possibly some accessibility issues with using this control. In both Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows, the control appears as a text field with a button labeled “Browse…” next to it, with a few other visual differences. In Google Chrome, the button is labeled “Choose File”, and the text area where the name appears initially begins saying “No file chosen” and is just regular HTML text, not a text input field. There is a little control over the appearance of these visual elements via CSS, but some features, such as the actual text on the button, are chosen by the browser, not by the web developer. Furthermore, the button now means there are two button elements in the HTML FORM, not just a standard “Submit” button. This may cause some issues for browser users who are visually impaired or who use a different input method other than a mouse. In many ways, the appearance of the form may be unfamiliar to users, so your page should contain sufficient explanatory text, should be tested on many browsers, and perhaps should also provide an alternative method of supplying the file data.

Before leaving the HTML, there is one other change that needs to be made to a standard FORM – the enctype attribute of the form needs to be set to “multipart/form-data”. This is the most common omission when setting up a file upload form; if the enctype is left at its default value, “application/x-www-form-urlencoded”, your server will not receive the contents of the file at all, just the file name! This leads us on to the next observation; since the format of the data returned by the browser will be different, any standard form handling code you have will not work. You may need to make matching server changes as well.

On the server

As mentioned above, changing the encoding of the browser response to “multipart/form-data” is necessary so that actual file data is sent to the server; the standard form encoding does not handle arbitrary file sizes well. The encoding is based on the MIME standard for sending multipart messages, most recognizably used in email for file attachments. This makes sense since you are in effect attaching a file to a browser response, but note that the mechanism actually supports multiple files if necessary. Indeed, if there are other INPUT fields in your form, each of their results will also be returned as if they were a file attachment. This means the standard form handling code you have is unlikely to work.

Exactly what needs to be done on the server side depends highly on your server technology and the access rights you have on your site. You may need to contact your web hosting company, for example, to see if they already have a “canned” upload script that you could use. A blog widget or similar inclusion on a third-party site probably will not let you use this functionality. If you are the web developer, you should be able to search for “file upload” in your platform documentation; for example, Perl users will find file upload is supported in the CGI.pm module.

At this point, if what needs to be done appears too difficult, you should consider whether implementing file upload is really what you need, and be wary that there are many security and complexity issues that you may have to handle. What will you do with the files once they arrive? Where will you store them? What if, either accidentally or maliciously, a client tries to send you a huge file? What if the file never makes it to its destination? In cases like this, you may wish to consider an alternate provider to give you file upload capabilities. One use case was, for example, allowing your users to upload a picture or avatar of themselves. There are plenty of services to do that, such as Gravatar; your users might even prefer to see you integrate with Facebook or Twitter.

In client software

Nowadays, it is quite normal for programs other than web browsers to connect to web pages. If you are a developer for software that runs on smartphones, you may find yourself in a position where you need to upload a file to a web site without launching the browser. Again, the precise details vary depending on the platform you are using. Java developers may be familiar with the Apache HttpClient collection of utilities. Creating an HTTP POST using HttpClient is well-documented elsewhere, and a quick search for multipart posting highlights a MultipartPostMethod that is deprecated. The correct way in this case to post is to build a MultipartRequestEntity made up of one or more Part objects; a Part object can be configured to contain, among many other things, a file. A call to setRequestEntity() on the POST method will do exactly what is needed in this case.

What next?

Being able to upload a file to your web site opens the doors to some exceptionally powerful functionality, but the details seem to be a bit sparse online. You may go ahead and check RFC 1867, the original proposal dating back to 1995, and you may wish to try out this functionality in as many different browsers as you can find. You will most likely be surprised at the differences in look and feel. However, it is a good tool to have available in your web development arsenal, and the techniques illustrated here come in useful, even in modern web development environments.