So you're launching the website for your small business or you're ready to graduate to a serious website design you can no longer handle yourself (skills-wise and/or time-wise), and you need to hire a big gun to produce for you. If you're a small business owner shopping around for a website designer and taking price and aesthetics into consideration, it's important to drill down on how those website designers will handle PSD to HTML, or what is referred to as the design to code process. Here's your crash course so you can be in the know and ask the right questions:
In short, a PSD is a Photoshop document of individual layered images that allows the pages on your website to pop and look visually stunning. Ultimately, in order to get used on your website, those images are flattened and converted into JPEG, GIF or TIFF files, but any designer worth his or her salt will always save the original PSD file and not overwrite it during conversion to HTML. Ask your website designer if he or she will save their original PSD files.
Once the PSD file is converted to HTML, it goes through W3C validation, which detects coding errors and ensures that your website is accessible across all platforms and browsers and that it performs well in SEO rankings. When someone conducts a search using keywords that apply to the area of expertise your business is in, you want your website to show up in the first several results. A good website designer will also use strong, smart and short anchor texts to optimize searches and increase your popularity. Ask your website designer if he or she will manually convert the PSD files to HTML, or if he or she will work with a developer and/or use a high quality responsive template that will flag sloppy coding or errors.
Including an Alt tag of 150 characters or less for all images on your website within the IMG tag describes the destination of the link, helping you to attract image-based search traffic you would not otherwise be able to lure. The Alt tag is also something that is displayed if and when an image is broken or disabled. If you have a lot of fancy charts, diagrams or tables, you should have a link to an extended text description. Ask your website designer if he or she will use Alt tags for all images on your website.
If you are a business that relies heavily on email marketing, be sure to ask if your developer can help to code the design of your email template. If you blog regularly for your business, Wordpress is the most user and SEO friendly platform. Ask your website designer if he or she can code the design of your email template and if you can go with Wordpress for your blog.
If you're not getting positive answers to the above list of concerns, chances are you need to look elsewhere for a designer/developer who will be a better match for your business needs. That may involve investing more money than you were initially budgeting, but nothing replaces the value and continued return investment of an excellent website.
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