Design & Technology Blog   

The Fascinating Early Days of a “Web Page”

While doing a thorough spring cleaning and sorting to our office cabinets, we found this interesting, revealing article from September 1996 issue of “MacUser”. On the cover the magazine advertises the fastest Mac or PC ever, 225 MHZ PowerTower Pro. To give some context, today computers are built in the range of several GHz.

On page 99, MacUser shows easy steps to create an “Instant Home Page” with basic proportional images (that would not break the layout structure) and text information.  The article mentions Adobe PageMill 1.0 as the most popular Mac website creation tool of the time and that PageMill 1.0 was not capable of using tables for layout or for image maps. Over the last decade there’s been a movement towards table-free layouts and instead utilizing CSS for layout and styling, so it’s almost hard to recount a time when using tables for a layout was something new and technically advanced.

The key elements of a web page were already there in 1996: According to the article, the key content areas of a Web page are “info that let visitors to get to know you, links to other Web sites, and  a way to contact you via e-mail”. The magazine also recommends a visitor counter as a “fancy twist” which does not sound like a bad idea at all considering how much emphasis is put today on “invisible” visitor traffic tracking metrics tools.

Web page development started in 1994 so by 1996 the user could already display images to the web page making them a great deal more visual. On the other hand, navigation for instance remained HTML link based and button shapes were available but made very little use of until a year later in 1997.

1996 may have felt a big step from the very early ages of World Wide Web back in 1994 when very few people were aware of this emerging technology and communication platform. Here is a popular YouTube video of NBC news team discussing Web terminology back in 1994. The terminology is new and the Internet is still something abstract and rather geeky sounding.

Our Top Five Favorite iPhone Apps

As many of you may know, Dallas Web Design Company Interaria is a REGISTERED iOS Apple developer. Our love for the iPhone manifests on and off work. Below are our favorite iPhone apps that we find useful, entertaining and occasionally even practical.

1) Polytune iPhone App

PolyTune is an innovate tool to use for tuning your guitar. Unlike other guitar tuners, PolyTune let’s you strum all strings at once to tune rather than needing to go string by string. Our top reasons why we like Polytune iPhone App:

  • $4.99 (OK, we can pay this)
  • Innovative tool because when strumming once all strings at the same time and getting feedback on all strings at once, you can then tune faster by tuning more than one string per interval.
  • Gives an immediate visual indication as to how in tune the guitar is as a whole, rather than the string by string approach.
  • Often times you know from playing that one string alone might be slightly out, and this tool is a great way to quickly identify which string is out verses going string by string.
2) Verizon FiOS DVR Manager iPhone App

If Verizon FiOS is your tv service provider, and you use their DVR service too, you can use this app to schedule recordings and manage available recording space on your DVR. Our top reasons why we like Verizon FiOS DVR Manager iPhone App:

  • Free (only works with Verizon FiOS DVR)
  • Managing DVR is easier and faster from app than from the tv interface (which is a horrible experience by comparison)
  • If you’re out and about and forgot to record a show, app makes it easy to update from anywhere
3) Find My iPhone App

If you have two iPhones on the same .me account, Find My iPhone is a handy way to track one with the other. Our top reasons why we like Find My iPhone App:

  • Free (unlike the AT&T and many other GPS tracking service)
  • If you lose an iPhone or lose a person with an iPhone (such as at a large mall), this app comes in very handy.
  • Doesn’t require the iPhone being tracked to grant permission to be tracked, unlike other GPS tracking services

4) Ebay iPhone App

The eBay application for the iPhone is specially designed to run natively on the Apple iPhone and the iPod Touch. Using a streamlined interface that’s as elegant as it is practical, eBay members can search, bid, and check their activity on the go. Our top reasons why we like Ebay iPhone App:

  • Easy to use and so convenient
  • Great tool to place bids when on the go
  • If you are a seller, this app provides the basic tools to keep track of your listings and their status.
  • Ebay also offers a special app for sellers. It is still little tricky to use. Listing items via iPhone is possible but the visual control is not quite there yet. We would still recommend traditional methods for listing items.

5) Trivial Pursuit iPhone App

PLAY FOR THE PURSUIT OF FUN! Show off what you know in this contemporary version of the classic board game. Our top reasons why we like Trivial Pursuit iPhone App:

  • If you get annoyed with by slow family members who take forever to roll the dice, count the steps, take out the question card (from the wrong side), then place it wrongly back to the deck…then this app is for you.
  • Makes playing easy to start, and in a way is a more quiet way to play. We’ve noticed that it is easy to play a round at a coffee break
  • The app let’s you choose questions from multiple type of packs (easy, medium, senior, encyclopedia etc.)
  • The downside is that the questions start repeating after awhile… or maybe we’ve just played too many rounds

Alexa Indexing Engine Measures Website Popularity

In addition to following your website’s Google Page Rank, and the number of backlinks pointing to your site, another metric to check when following your website’s search engine optimization progress is called Alexa Rank.

Alexa is a website indexing engine that attempts to measure popularity of websites. Alexa gathers its data on websites as does Google by using ‘searchbots’ that crawl the Web reading and storing data from websites. Like Google, Alexa crawls the Internet, retrieving and storing lots of data about websites and the popularity of websites. However, unlike Google, Alexa builds their popularity rank from data sent to them by people who have installed an Alexa Toolbar into their web browser. If you have the Alexa Toolbar installed into your browser, every time you visit a website, data is sent to Alexa, telling Alexa what websites you have visited. In this way, Alexa is able to build a ranking popularity index of which websites are visited most. The highest, most visited/popular site, has an Alexa Rank of 1, which is currently held by Google. For example, Apple Computer’s main website has an Alexa Rank of 41 and Dell Computer has an Alexa Rank of 200. However, most websites have ranks in the hundreds of thousands or millions.

Google does not make public all the factors that go into how high your website will rank on search results pages, but tracking how your site’s Alexa rank changes over time, whether your Alexa Rank goes up or down, can be an early indicator as to how your website’s Google ranking and search engine results maybe be changing and improving.

A copy of the Alexa database is used for the Internet Archive ( ). Google and Alexa also partner on supporting the Open Directory Project ( ).

Dynamic User Account Systems

In case your company wants to provide any user exclusive information or create custom user experiences, then user account systems are the way to go. To summarize, we can identify three different needs for user accounts according to the website’s business model:
1) Client account systems for customers to access specific information and files,
2) Customer account systems for online stores, and
3) Member websites that require registration for participation.

Interaria develops on a PHP/MySQL database platform custom data driven user account systems to meet with the requirements of your website’s business model and the outline for ideal user experiences.

1) Client Login / Account Systems

Client accounts are very commonly needed for customers/clients to be able to access unique data and project specific files. In these cases accounts are typically assigned by the website owner (service provider). Examples of the cases for different industry based uses are many:

a) Creative industry (architects, designers, builders, photographers, consultants): sharing design and project files and tracking progress online is often crucial in order to create effective customer relationships.

b) Real estate agents: creating custom lists of properties by the customer’s specific needs creates efficiency and trust.

c) Financial and medical industry: Any monetary or sensitive information should be password protected and highly case sensitive.

Customers benefit from having an access to online accounts where they can view (and comment) project files and documents specifically designed or assigned for them. Interaria creates custom solutions based on individual needs. For instance we can create solutions that let you:

  • post a file and define users (members) who can see it
  • create custom slide shows and special image libraries
  • associate a time stamp to any shared file to specify when it will expire
  • send an automated email to your customer every time you post a new project file
  • delete and re-organize files
  • let your customer leave notes/comments associated to each file
  • let your customers reset their password

A client login and account system is one type of Web application that “talks” with a database and runs on your Web server. Visually the interface and pages can be custom designed to match with your website or unique visual requirements according to each project.

2) Customer Account Systems for Online Stores

Online stores are often designed to give an option to create a customer account. While many online stores don’t make this mandatory the benefits are faster check out times with saved billing and address information. The accounts are also beneficial in storing previous order data and receipts and tracking packages. Typically customers have an option to create an account while checking out. Standard features are also secure password retrieval/reset process, and options to manage communication settings (such as wanting or not wanting to receive promotional emails).

3) Member account systems for specified online participation

Member accounts and user systems are these days everyday life on the Web. Typically any tracked interactivity by a visitor requires some form of quick registration in order to participate to discussions, leave ratings, post comments, and engage with other members. Examples of website features that require and/or benefit from member account systems are many:

  • Posting product reviews and ratings
  • Accessing member exclusive news
  • Leaving comments
  • Participating to interactive games
  • Saving items to Favorite lists
  • Sharing photos and video
  • Scheduling a service or an appointment online

Dallas Web design & development company Interaria develops PHP/MySQL database driven custom Web applications. Setting up a user account system is typically one of the first steps in the process of designing entire database driven website features and user interfaces.

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Choose the Driver Seat with a Database Driven CMS

Take control over the content growth and updates on your website! Interaria specializes in developing Content Management Systems (CMS) that increase the life span and dynamic nature of a website. Our Content Management solutions constitute of custom developed Web applications integrated to your company’s website and fully planned according to your company’s unique content update and growth needs. Our Content Management solutions are custom coded by the Interaria team in PHP/MySQL database programming language.

With a dynamic Content Management solution in place, our clients are not looking at a static website but are able to manage and increase the content on their site without any ties to us or our website and without any requirements for HTML coding skills.

Interaria’s CMS solutions set our clients independently to

  • Add and edit website’s text content
  • Publish, re-organize, delete and re-size website’s image content
  • Manage and expand project portfolios (always a custom solution based on client’s needs)
  • Manage and expand product catalogs (always a custom solution based on client’s needs)
  • Manage and expand team and staff pages
  • Publish, organize and index/categorize (for search results) newsletters, press releases, resource documents
  • Upload photos with titles and text descriptions to a slide show
  • Generate new subpages with new content (that follow a pre-set structural logic; different format options possible)
  • Publish content for public or turn its status ’off-line’

— This is all done through a custom designed, password protected special Admin interface that resides in the client’s website and web server, and all without any requirements for HTML skills or code knowledge.

When should my company consider a Content Management System (CMS)?

Content Management System is a database integrated custom Web application that a website owner can access via Admin interface and utilize for updating website’s text and image content without any special coding such as HTML development skills. Even with HTML skilled staff in hand, CMS should be considered for streamlining frequent Web Master work on sections that require frequent updates (such as News, Events, Projects) as it reduces the total work time and decreases chances for coding errors or code typos. Interaria always custom designs and codes CMS so that your site’s future content growth takes place according to the set design and Web architecture structure established during the site’s “Message & Design” phase.

What are the benefits of having a Content Management System?

The benefits of utilizing and building up your company’s website content through CMS are:

  • Minimizing visual styling errors during site updates by using already set style options
  • Faster overall update time
  • Streamlined update routine, no chaos
  • Update responsibilities are not tied to IT personnel
  • Empowerment to edit and add content to the site as often and and as much and as little as needed without worrying about update costs
  • Generated content can be tied to database for custom searches on the website
  • Photo upload system may re-size photos for the Web (with no requirement to use Photoshop or some other image edit program)
  • Interaria utilizes PHP/MySQL programming language for custom programming CMS code and systems. PHP is an open source based programming language with no ties to expensive software or server licenses for your company (such as not the case with cold fusion based code for instance). PHP is a very widely accepted and popular code language, and today many large companies (for instance Facebook) has chosen to develop their sites on a PHP platform after experiencing continuous hick-ups with other programming languages that used to be regarded as more commercial.
  • Interaria is a design driven Web media agency. Our CMS solutions are coded for fully custom designed websites according to your company’s brand messaging and identity design needs. Unlike template CMS solutions, Interaria’s CMS solution gives us free hands to design each site the way we want it. Our design and technology team work hand in hand making sure everything in your site is in balance. Our sophisticated technology solutions enable us to code brand focused graphics design content in each website and systemize it for CMS solutions where needed.

Website Architecture Design For Aesthetic, Functional and Technical Balance

Interaria regards Web architecture design as an important phase in establishing a creative balance in all Web site elements, and ultimately in the final product. Web architecture design develops and tests our project files against three criteria: aesthetic (visual), functional and technical

For instance, let’s say we are to design a call-to-action icon that includes text: The aesthetic criterion would be that the call-to-action icon looks visually appealing and engaging to call in action, and is balanced and parallel to the company’s brand identity; the functional criterion would be that the web site visitor finds the information on the icon relevant and can easily read the text and click on the link(s); the technical criterion would be that the call-to-action icon can be programmed with modern Web programming language(s), and that there is a clear technical plan in place with regards to how the icon can be updated. In essence, a solid web site architecture is advocacy for all three criteria. If one of the criteria is not fully met, Interaria takes the web site element or section under the development back to the drawing board and further develops that feature until it meets the standards outlined in each criterion.

Web sites designed and developed against these three criteria will be more successful in engaging customers and establishing a solid platform for marketing and informing. The larger the scale for the web development project, the more of importance it is to go through this process in detail for establishing Web media that has a long, organic online lifespan.

Effective Website Layout Design

Dallas Web Design Company Interaria regards that designing an effective website layout requires establishing a balanced synergy among several design principles. We have modeled these principles below into five clusters:

1) Modern “genre” (concept and style) driven layout design principle: Establishing a layout style that is valued in the current stream of online media. Strictly avoiding dated “old” layout concepts.

2) Industry driven layout design principle: Understanding industry specific concepts and styles.

3) Demographics driven layout design principle: Basing layout design concepts on the understanding of the visitor’s age, sex, location and surfing behavior.

4) Brand identity driven layout design principle: A) Establishing creative ways to integrate company’s (client’s) identity elements to the layout; B) Approaching the layout design as a brand differentiating identity factor in re-enforcing the brand.

5) Hardware and software driven layout design principle: Taking into account several technical and functional criteria such as the age and type of computers that will be used to surf the website, use of mobile devices, typically used resolution settings, importance of overall visual impact, requirements to change an established scale in the future.

Layout design provides walls for the house — it is a highly significant phase in the process of creating effective customized Web media that has a long online lifespan.

Brand Building Social Media Design

Interaria provides all Web graphics design and Web code development services to make your company’s social media presence unique and cohesive with your company’s brand identity and messaging.

Our social media identity design and integration services include:

  • Setting up and customizing your company’s Twitter page: background graphics, layout colors, link colors, avatar icon
  • Setting up and customizing your company’s social media widgets placed on your company’s website: Twitter feed, Facebook feed, Flickr feed etc.
  • Setting up and customizing content sharing interfaces: Twitter ’Tweet’ buttons, blog content sharing icons etc.
  • Selecting or custom designing social media icons to be placed on your company website: Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Digg, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Blog etc.
  • Customizing your company’s Blog with optimal layout style, font sizes and styles, colors and graphics design elements.
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