Website Design – Developing The Back End

The back end is a mysterious and dangerous place. Well, only if you don’t know the landscape or the language. Doing work on the back end of a website without proper training can feel like traveling to a new country without a guide or translator. Things may look familiar, but you don’t know where your going, nothing makes sense, and you can get into trouble very quickly. That’s exactly why companies like ours have highly skilled web developers. When free cookie cutter templates won’t cut it, real back end developers are the only ones who can connect the zeros and ones in just the right way.
The virtual city-scape from Tron Legacy.

 

E-Commerce Systems: A Tale of User Experience

Back end functionality can take a website from average, to exceptional, if implemented correctly. Often, people try to set up e-commerce systems on their own. Just as often, this leads to a nightmare for their online business and their web team. With e-commerce, you MUST get it right, the first time. Internet users are particularly notorious for identifying bad systems, finding seemingly unnoticeable problems, and forming long lasting opinions based on very short experiences. The buzz word in the world of e-commerce right now is User Experience! Anyone can read tutorials online and set up basic back end systems, but it takes a highly trained web developer to integrate e-commerce systems fluidly into a website’s overall user experience, and that why we are here!

An "e" in a basket, just a visual metaphor for e-commerce.

Back End Basics: Payment and Data Collection

We are often surprised about how little consumers generally know about the difficulties behind back end website programming. In an age of PayPal, Constant Contact, and Hub Spot, all of this simple back end stuff should be easy right? WRONG!

Payment Integration – Setting up online payment capabilities for your website is not simple as 1,2,3. Sure you can make a basic “Buy It Now” button using PayPal for practically nothing, but as I mentioned above, seamless integration with the user experience of your website is not as easy as one would think. More importantly, if you want tracking of orders, special criteria, dynamic calculations, itemized sales capabilities or anything else of that nature, your talking about back end development. People who try to do this without the proper training end up wasting a lot of time, and even worse, can loose customers from a batched e-payment system. Nothing turns off a client more that a scary error or misstep during the online payment process. Get it right, or people will run for the hills and call your website a scam.

Data Collection – Keeping track of data collected online is one of the most amazing things about the modern internet. Simple lists and tables are not too complicated, but the more information you start collecting, the more complex the system on the back end must be. Once you start to collect data of a complicated nature, back end development is a must. Remember, the point of all of this digital hulabaloo is to make things easier and efficient, not to cause confusion or hassles. Once again its the back end developers to the rescue. Never trust someone to collect, store, and organize data from an online system unless they know what they’re doing.

Classic scene from Jurassic Park - Newman Takes Control of The System
Never let this guy have your administrator’s password.  Jurassic Park

Advanced Back End Systems: A Labyrinth of Code

When it comes to modern e-commerce, things are getting really cool, and really confusing. It takes a special type of mind to design, develop, and maintain a complicated back end system. For example, we had a client that wanted a calendar widget for their website. Most of the features they wanted come right out of the box in a free plug-in. However, the client wanted some very special scheduling and e-commerce capabilities for this calendar. Their only hope was our back end development expert. The simple fact is that their is a X/Y spectrum of customization and complexity. The more customized a client wishes their website to be, the more complicated the system will become. (Thanks captain obvious…)

A big green labyrinth of hedges

The point I have been trying to make is that when it comes to web development, there are many options out there. More importantly, when it comes to delivering a customized, seamless, and intuitive user experience, the old adage holds true, “You get what you pay for!”

Make sure to leave us a comment if you want to share anything. Also, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for more interesting articles like this one. Our website development team is standing by and ready to help you get you back end in order, so give us a call today!




CloudScript: The Future of Transcription Workflow

Word Wizards is proud to present our newest service, CloudScript!

Over 30 years of working in the media transcription industry has provided our team with rare and valuable insight into how and why people need our transcription services. We have noticed an important trend in the past few years, the name of the game these days is speed, convenience, and price. Production teams must to be able to work faster, more efficiently, and at lower operating costs than ever before to survive. Well, we have designed CloudScript to answer the call for a new solution.

Stated simply, CloudScript lets you click on any time code in your transcript and jump to that point in the audio or video file. Using a simple online form you can instantly convert any transcript with time code into a “media-synced” transcript. CloudScript is intended to make your workflow easier while writing, editing, producing or otherwise working with transcripts.

Watch our short video below for a quick demonstration!

Visit the CloudScript Home Page and Sign Up for your free trial Today!

 




Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center: New Custom Calendar

One of our favorite web clients, the Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center, LLC, has become very creative with the WordPress Ajax Event Calendar plugin.  This plugin is beautifully written and allows detailed entry of color-coded events.  It allows links, images, and maps in the event detail, which show in a modal window.   But because the Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center’s calendar is jam-packed, they needed an adjustment for their clientele.

 

Test Link

Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center using Ajax Event Calendar
hollywoodballroomDC.com uses Ajax Event Calendar

There is always something happening at the Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center.  On any particular day, the calendar may have six or seven entries.  That means that their calendar extends far down on the web page.   And when you are in the middle of the calendar, it’s easy to lose track of where you are.

To improve their user experience, Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center has created a header category to show the day of the week as well as the day number. We suppressed the date numbers that would show in the grid by default to avoid redundancy.  The result is a kinder cleaner experience for their dancers.

Take a glace at this Ajax Event Calendar.  With the color-coded categories, the extensive detail available for each event, and the clarity of presentation, the calendar is working well for the  Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center.  And their customers are so pleased they are doing the happy dance.

 




Graphic Design For The Web: Bridging The Gap

Graphic design has been a specialty of Word Wizards, Inc. since day one. Before we even had our own office, we were offering professional desktop publishing and graphics design for clients. Our team of graphic designers are experts in the latest graphic design technology. As the tools of graphic design have evolved, so has the pool of competition in the graphics design industry. With the dawn of the internet age, finding a good graphics artist is easier than ever, and the fine line between graphic designer and web designer is blurring.

Word Wizards Inc Home Page

Graphics for the Web

Composing graphics for the web is an entirely different animal than traditional graphics design. Graphic design for websites must covey a specific message to a non-specific audience. The balance between quality, detail and data size is always an issue, especially with page speed as a critical factor in modern SEO ratings. Graphic images must be tested for clarity and color in multiple browsers due to discrepancies in the way different software displays images. Possibly the most important factor is the layout and optimization constraints of a website, meaning, the way one organizes graphic information on the web makes all the difference when users are navigating through a website.

A synthesis between graphic arts and web design.
Click to see an example of the perfect fusion between graphic design and web design.

Bridge The Gap

With progress comes new challenges and new opportunities. The world of graphic design and web design is now forever intertwined. It is up to firms like ours to maintain the highest level of quality in our graphic design efforts as the capabilities of design software and the expectations of our clients continue to increase in complexity. Just remember, you always get what you pay for, especially when it comes to graphics. Yes, graphic designers and web designers are now overly common services offered cheaply and globally via the internet. However, an intimate knowledge of how to integrate graphic elements on the web only comes from years of experience and a deep understanding of how users work with the internet.




New Website Launch: Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center

The Word Wizards website design team proudly launched http://hollywoodballroomDC.com/ last week.

Screenshot taken from Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center website designed by Word Wizards, Inc.

Nothing is more satisfying to our team of web developers than the launch of a new website. Just as with our graphic design services, our website design efforts are original and customized each time. Translating business objectives into a functional, optimized, and graphically organized website is a unique challenge each time. It requires a meticulous attention to detail and the requirements of the client. It further requires our web developers to think outside the box and come up with effective solutions to seemingly impossible problems.

Some of the web design challenges we faced and overcame in this project include:

  • Organizing a website with many different components
  • Creating an easy to use navigation bar without sacrificing design or functionality
  • Designing stimulating graphics that convey the message intended by the client
  • Coding of advanced custom features, i.e. a calendar that can be easily modified, and a side bar that “floats”
  • Making sure the website functions properly on several different browsers

Word Wizards would like to congratulate our client on the successful new launch of this website. We invite you to explore this web page as an example of our extensive capabilities as a website development firm. If you reside in the DC metro area and you would like to learn how to dance, or rent a big space to host an event, we strongly recommend that you stop by The Hollywood Ballroom Dance Center and take a look around.