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Merit Web Design offers professional web design services. Below you'll find information about design concepts and challenges, as well as a brief overview of our process.
 
Key Concepts

 
   

The purpose of a web site is to support and enhance the goals of your business or organization - it is not an end in itself. A web site should be much more than just an on-line brochure, and a well designed web site integrates the following key concepts.

 
Content
Good content is the most important aspect of successful web site design. To support your content, you need the right combination of technology and graphics. In that sense web site design is both an art and a science. It has to be functional and work correctly, but should also be appealing to the eye.
Navigation
Good navigation and usability is the basis for a good design. It should always be obvious to your visitors how to get where they want to go on your web site, and it should be impossible to get "lost".
 
   

What makes the Web such a powerful medium is that it is interactive, and it provides instant access to an incredible depth of information. Good web site design should take full advantage of these capabilities, providing your visitors with easy access to the information, products or service you provide, while making their whole experience stimulating and satisfying.

 
   
Our Process

 
Free
Consultation
We begin with a free initial consultation via e-mail, by phone, or in person if you are located in the Seattle area. At this stage we identify the objectives of your business or organization, and then review the products, services, information or resources you have to offer.

We will also evaluate the need for your own domain name and your web site hosting options. Based on this we will provide you with a scope document that summarizes the objectives of your web site and outlines the content and navigational structure, free of charge.

 
Planning and
Review of
Existing
Materials
At this point we will review with you your existing forms of advertising and the methods you use currently to promote your products, services, or information. We will also evaluate the source for the content of your web site: product and price lists, newsletters, manuals, articles, forms, policies, charts, and your company or organization information.

In order to make your web site dynamic we will also consider time sensitive information that you want to publicize: announcements, schedules, events, meetings, sales, and special activities or campaigns. You may also want to schedule periodic content updating for certain portions of your web site.

 
Development
of the
Web Site
Based on the scope document, we can proceed to the actual design and construction of your web site. We can use graphic material you provide to us and we can create graphics and a logo for you.

Included in the creation of all our web sites at Merit Web Design is the appropriate use of HTML Meta tags and effectively presented text, which will help your web site get high listings in the search engines. This is critical to getting traffic to your web site, and can make the difference between success or failure. Many of our clients have achieved #1 positions in the major search engines through these and other techniques.

 
Upload and
Test
The last step is to upload the initial version of the web site to your Internet Service Provider (ISP) or to our server through one of our Hosting Plus accounts. We will thoroughly test it in order to validate all hyperlinks and e-mail addresses, to make sure that all forms, buttons, Java scripts, etc. work properly, and to test browser compatibility, screen width, and colors.

At this point you can review your web site and request any changes you would like us to make. We want you to be happy with our work.

 
   


Design Challenges

 
Browser
Compatibility
The same web page can look very different through different browsers. Even different versions of the same browser can change the appearance of a web page. We will view your web site through the most popular versions of Microsoft's Internet Explorer (including AOL's version) and Netscape's Navigator to make sure the layout is acceptable in all of them.
 
Color
Settings
Monitors display colors differently. Another challenge for web designers is to create graphics and text which look good under an incredibly wide range of monitor color capacities. A typical scanned photograph produces an image file with over 16 million colors. Unfortunately, most monitors today can display 64,000 colors, and many older monitors display 256 colors or in some cases only 16 colors.

An image that looks fantastic with 64,000 colors on a new monitor can look terrible through an older monitor that displays only 256 colors, because the older monitor "dithers" the colors it cannot display. If you have ever seen Images on a web site covered with dots or bands of colors, this is the cause. Six common factors contribute to dithering and image degradation:

  • The image's color palette was not sufficiently reduced
  • The image was not correctly compressed into the "GIF" or "JPG" format
  • Lack of memory in the viewer's computer
  • Use of certain browsers, especially AOL's older versions
  • The viewer has set their monitor resolution incorrectly (i.e. someone with a 17" monitor set at 640 x 480 resolution--they should set it for 1024 x 768)
  • The viewer has set their monitor colors incorrectly (i.e. someone with a new monitor set at 256 colors which should be set at 16 million colors)
 
   

How many colors does your monitor display?

Try our special color test Images.
 
Screen
Resolution
Settings

People use monitors with different screen resolutions. The most commonly used is 800 x 600 pixels. However, many newer PC's and Mac's come with monitors that display 1024 x 768 pixels or more, and many people with older PC's have monitors set at 640 x 480. Browsers will actually move the Images around and the lines of text will stretch or shrink, all depending on the monitor's resolution.

Shown below is the exact same web page viewed on a Netscape browser, but at different monitor resolutions, from lowest to highest resolution. Notice how the browser moves around the graphics and text, and how the higher screen resolutions appear to shrink the graphics.

 
   
Sample web page shown at 640 x 480 pixels.
640 x 480
Sample web page shown at 800 x 600 pixels.
800 x 600

Sample web page shown at 1024 x 768 pixels.
1024 x 768

 
   
What is the resolution of the monitor you are using right now?

Try our special screen resolution test.
 
A Note on WebTV Designing for WebTV poses a new challenge, as Web TV squeezes web pages into a screen only 544 pixels wide, and then enlarges all the text to boot.  


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