Upham's Corner Online

Website Development, Maintenance and Consulting - Uphams Arts

Uphams Arts (Nancy Conrad) offers website consulting, development and maintenance.  Primarily focused on HTML-based web pages (XHTML11 Transitional) or WordPress.com, Uphams Arts will assist you in designing / developing an aesthetically pleasing and inviting web presence consistent with your niche.  If you don't have one, we can walk you through the process of finding one. 

Uphams Arts Deciding you want to create a web presence is the first step in a long series of "growing" your digital offspring.  You can begin as simply as signing up for a blog or a free website.  If merchandising is your goal, you may need to make a substantial investment in webhosting and online store capability.

When planning and designing your web presence, begin with the questions that put you on the spot.  
  • Are you going into business or is your web presence more casual (a hobby)?  
  • What are your specific financial objectives?
  • How hard are you willing to work to achieve your goals (lots of competition) ?

Temporarily set that aside to focus on your customer and visitor website experiences.  You as the creator of your site may only see the result of tailoring a blog site or you may be creating a new site from HTML scratch.  Before the visitor can access your site, a browser must translate the page into a page with text, graphics and links. 

If the code is problematic, the browser will not deliver a page that the visitor can see or work with.  Links may not open; dropdown menus may not work and other options may be hidden from view.  Testing your web presence under different web browsers is important.

Once the code compatibility issues have been addressed, the visitor's experience comes front and center.  What does the visitor see?  Is it a website/blog that is friendly, easy to follow and navigate, with unique and valuable content?  Does it encourage readers to sign up or purchase product?  Remember that initially, the customer's only concern is what they see, how the feel, the journey (navigation) and the WOW factor of unique value added content.  Any glitches (broken links, missing images, or content that never seems to get to the point) may leave the visitor frustrated and they will never return.

Quality Website Design Standards

A simple, colorful and inviting homepage, with great navigation, picture perfect images, plenty of "white" space, links that work, Contact Us, Search and Comments – all of these are the current website expected "no-brainers."  Yet you would be amazed at how many websites do not provide user-friendly experiences.  "Not worth the visit" the review says, and you never return.

Equally important are developer responsibilities that ensure the browser will translate the web page correctly. Given the number of browsers in use (Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chromium, Google Chrome, Opera, Safari and more), adhering to coding standards that minimize browser anomalies is a must. 

Embedding style selections in CSS stylesheets (tables), minimizing the use of in-line design specifications and always checking if the page is W3C compliant prior to publishing – these are key quality assurance guidelines for a professional website.

Group I – Website Page Design Standards
  • Simple, colorful and inviting landing page ( homepage)
  • Main navigation bar and heading maintained throughout the website
  • Picture perfect images
  • Plenty of "white" space
  • Links that work
  • Links that open to a new browser window if the page is external
  • Local search option
  • Contact information
  • Ability to add comments
  • Responsive theme (WordPress)

Group II – Coding Standards
  • W3C compliant  (World Wide Web Consortium)
  • Based on a CSS stylesheet
  • Minimal use of in-line styles

Responsive Web Themes

One final comment.  As rapidly as technology is evolving, you can blink and the next "app" is on the horizon.  In that vein, the "responsive theme" is worth considering.  Wide-screen monitors, laptops, tablets and smart phones all display only the amount of text that fits on the display screen.  Browsing a non-responsive website is like looking through binoculars zoomed up close.  Move the binoculars to see more of the viewing area but you will not be able to see the entire page.

Responsive themes not only detect the size of the device display window but are designed so the webmaster adding content does it in "chunks" that can be reformatted to fit the typical display windows.  What you see is meaningful content that "fits."  Coding a responsive web page from scratch is not easy.  Using a pre-packaged theme is probably the better option. 

Uphams Arts Website Development/Design Projects

Example 1:  Uphams Corner News

Uphams Corner News Nancy Conrad has handled all technical development for the UC News website http://www.uphamscornernews.com while  serving as journalist and publisher for the news digital platform. 

The website design has been evolving since its inception in August 2010 and provides insight into design / maintenance challenges and accomplishments.
  • Adapt the standard page format to provide space for Google AdSense
  • Use CSS tables to centralize all formatting
  • Create formatting standards that adapt but did not disrupt prior page designs
  • Make use of multiple image editors to enhance image presentation
  • Develop publication standards to ensure no coding errors
  • News considerations
    • Ability to transition the front page into the "current issue" then archive it for for search
    • Design the front page to create "windows" into full-length articles
    • Incorporate an issue index, events and news items into the front page
    • Provide a News Index

Example 2:  Local Website Redesign

Another interesting web redesign project focused on a website that had been sporadically maintained since 2008.  Consisting of one long homepage with many topics, what the visitor saw "above the fold" gave little indication to the full variety of page content because there was no main navigation bar.  After the HTML was examined, what the owner saw as content revision changed. 
  • Content formatting was being done exclusively through the use of header tags. 
  • The plethora of in-line formatting showed that the CSS table was not being used correctly.
  • A W3C compliance check showed 97 errors, many that would create browser problems
Steps taken to remove the coding errors, improve website navigability and the appearance of the content included the following:

HTML tags Remove inline formatting (header tags)
Visual Break up long paragraphs to add more "white" space
Content Rewrite some content / update with new owner-provided content
Navbar Work with owner to identify navbar labels and link to content
Images Move images to tables, add buffer space and descriptive image text
Headers and fonts Standardize fonts and headers using colors / size / font families consistent with header theme
Content isolation Format page as table and use rows to isolate content for future page redesign

The site now looks professional, has no errors - down from 97 - and is ready for the next phase of redesign / redevelopment.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation

Remember that the website you create or own is an expression of yourself.  Are you proud of what you see?  While many websites are works of art, simple websites chuck full of useful content can be just as important.  
  • I have an existing website and want a quick health assessment
  • I have questions regarding "my future and the web"
  • What's the best strategy – website or blog?
  • What's better? Blogger, WordPress.com or WordPress.org?

Contact Nancy Conrad at uphamsarts@gmail.com

Posted: April 26, 2014    Nancy J Conrad

Your comments will be posted here and in the Letters to the Editor after processing.


| Copyright © 2010-2018 Uphams Corner News - All Rights Reserved |