Website Purposes, Needs & Server Design

Data. Marketing. Technology.

Website Purposes

The internet has grown exponentially over the past 30 years to a point where almost any book, any film, any image, any video, any product and any piece of information can be found and accessed online. It’s the lifeblood of our modern society and we’ve become reliant on it. So forth, website purposes can include many different aspects such as Informative, News & Magazines, Entertainment, E-commerce, Banking, Gaming, Gambling, Social Media and so much more – below are just a few explained.

Informative

The use of websites for information reasons is the second most popular use of the internet in both 2007 and 2014 (first being sending/receiving emails) according to the Office for National Statistics. Due to this a large proportion of live websites on the internet are for information purposes. These sites are usually owned and published by companies that provide goods and services in order to inform potential customers of products, services, locations, costs, opening hours and so on.

News & Magazines

Many people now use the internet to keep up to date with current news and events due to it’s easy and instant accessibility – as a result of this the sales of printed papers and magazines have reduced significantly over the past few years. In fact, sales of printed newspapers dropped by 50% between March 2014 and March 2015 – predominantly due to the shift to the online news sites. This proves that creating a website to display news events and articles is a popular choice which has a high demand.

Entertainment

Now that average home broadband speed has surpassed 22Mb Per Second streaming services have become incredibly popular for online entertainment. For example, people can now stream HD movies from Netflix, 320Kb/s music from Spotify, videos from YouTube, live TV channels from NowTV and so much more. The use of services such as Netflix has grown exponentially over the past five years, Netflix now has a UK subscription base of 4.3 million users and growing. However popular these services are they require extremely costly and complicated networking and hardware to support them, therefore, the number of these sites in existence is relatively small for the number of users.

We used to live in a world where consumers went to the high street in order to gather all of their shopping needs, from food to clothes, to electrical, to hardware and everything in between, but over the past ten years all that has changed due to e-commerce. Introduced well over 40 years ago but only ever fully utilised in the past 10, e-commerce allows consumers to search, compare and buy products and services online at the touch of a few keys either at home or on the move. The simplistic, flexible and hassle-free nature of e-commerce is the leading reason it’s grown to be one of the Internet’s most widely used services, for instance in 2014 Amazon turned over £5.3 billion in sales just through it’s UK site.

Users & Their Needs

Every website can be used by anyone from any age, gender, religion, race, disability and demographic so forth they must be suitable and accessible for as many people as possible whilst also targeting their key audience. For instance, this means that BBC news would not target their content or design for children but they would make it accessible to the widest range of adults possible. For example, almost 2 million people in the UK live with a visual impairment according to because of this it’s important to add Alt text, high contrast settings and text size options to make sure the website is accessible to all.

Another crucial accessibility option is subtitled for the hard of hearing, especially due to the rise of streaming services like Netflix and YouTube. reports that 11 million people suffer from partial or full hearing loss in the UK. This is a massive section of the population and if a large company like Netflix did not provide subtitles it would have a knock on effect to their subscription numbers, therefore, subtitles are often in place.

Structure

Websites must be structured in a consistent, organised and familiar way to ensure that the user can navigate through the site easily. For example, eBuyer is an e-commerce site specializing in computer hardware, their site has a home page for landing and then each category of goods is split amongst subpages, then the product type is split into further subpages.

A top-down structure which is familiar to users of e-commerce sites. eBuyer also uses relevant, titles, headers, footers and subheaders on their pages which is a ‘must-have’ for SEO. Reports that a bad website structure can also hinder the websites ranking in search results due to receiving a poor SEO score from companies like Google.

Design

The design of a website is another crucial element that will keep users on the site and coming back. Once the structure is set, if the pages around it are poorly designed then users will simply leave to never return. The site needs to be easy on the eye, clean, tidy and readable at all times. This is where concepts of colour matching and use of white space become useful. If we look at Apple’s site, for example, they have used consistent colours, consistent fonts, use of white space, a simple and clean navigation bar plus great quality images that draw the user in.

This type of design keeps users on the site for longer and also improves the sites ranking in search engines as the lower the bounce rate of a site the higher it will appear for searches.

Functionality

A website is usually built for a purpose and it must function for the purpose well, otherwise, it would be a failure. For example, an e-commerce site must have a simple and easily functioning basket system, checkout system, SSL certificate, payment gateway and catalogue. If anyone of these functions is broken or difficult for the user to navigate it could potentially cost the company thousands. Reports that Amazon.com loses $66,240 in potential sales for every minute the website or payment system goes down. So forth functionality is critical for business but security functions such as the SSL certificate also offer a piece of mind and trust to the users of the site, therefore, maintain the rankings in search engines as the site gains and retains popularity.

Browsers & Devices

Website purposes also need to be taken into account when creating a website, the designer needs to take into account the devices it will be accessed on as not every device and browser are the same. For example, desktops, laptops, tablets and phones are all different devices that people use to access the web daily. In 2014 website traffic on mobile devices overtook that of desktop and laptop computers as tablets and smartphones combined to account for 60% of all web traffic. So forth it’s vital that a website is designed to be ‘responsive’; a responsive website is capable of detecting the size of the device being used and to adapt the pages into a format that is readable on both large scale and small scale screens.

Another factor to consider is the browsers as the majority of web traffic is currently split among the top five browsers, Chrome, IE, Firefox, Safari and Opera they will each need to be tested for compatibility with the website. Compatibility issues could cause errors that make the site unusable to users on some browsers, this would, therefore, hinder the number of users, increase the bounce rate and decrease the sites ranking in search engines.

Hosting & Maintenance

Hosting & maintenance is critical to a website, a website simply wouldn’t exist without hosting. Firstly, a website needs hosting on a server that is accessible from the internet, this is where all of the data that makes up the site will be stored. Hosting services can usually be bought from large companies for a monthly fee, but websites for larger companies such as eBay.co.uk usually choose to host their own. For example, eBay’s servers are so vital to them that on their live dashboard they report having 52,333 active servers.

Secondly, the domain name of the website must be registered with an internet registrar, for example, ebay.co.uk. The registrar updates a public DNS (domain name service) record that links the domain name to the IP address of the server where the data is hosted. For example, ebay.co.uk actually points to the server’s IP address of 66.135.211.132 however this number isn’t easily remembered or recognisable hence why domain names and the DNS is used.

In order to maintain the data on the remote web server, an FTP (file transfer protocol) must be used. The FTP allows for a basic transfer of files from the local machine to the remote server therefor updating the website’s data and contents.

Legal Considerations

The Data Protection Act, 1998 outlines rules and guidance for companies storing combined personal data such as names, addresses, contact details and payment details. For instance, the act states that this data must be used “fairly and lawfully” whilst being kept “safe and secure”. To stay within the law, the website must ensure it only collects personal data through the website securely using an SSL certificate it then must be stored in a safe location that is not accessible by the public. To also fall in line with this act the website must state its intent for any data collected, this is usually collected from a simple tick-box where the user confirms they have read the terms and conditions of how the data will be used. This, therefore, protects users of the website from their identity and details being used in ways which they did not agree to.

The Copyright, Designs and Patent Act, 1988 protects web designers from their content, designs and artistic content from being copied, re-published, adapted, sold or rented without their permission. It states that the below types of work are covered and the length of time that they are covered for:
⦁ Literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works – This covers such works as books, plays, songs, designs and artwork for up to 70 years after the last remaining author dies.
⦁ Sound Recordings & Broadcasts – This may cover sound recordings of works, documentaries or musical and is covered for 50 years after the last remaining author dies.
⦁ Films – This could be anything from large budget films to independent films and broadcasted programs and is covered for 70 years after the last remaining author dies.
⦁ Typographical – This covers such things as news articles, blogs and magazines and is covered for 25 years after the date of first publication.
This act will protect the design, content and any artistic work which may appear on the site such as videos and music without needing a patent. This is because patents are only required for the technical aspects of something, for example, the Quattro 4-wheel drive system by Audi.

Computer Misuse Act

The Computer Misuse Act, 1990 is also another legal document that must be considered when making a website. The act was developed in 1990 as hacking became a common nuisance which was causing companies and individuals to lose data and money. The Act states 3 clear offences with a varying consequence for each if committed.
⦁ Unauthorised access to computer material – This covers any unauthorized access to any material this could be as simple as using someone’s computer without their permission or as serious as hacking and viewing confidential government files.
⦁ Unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate crime – This is a more server office in which the unauthorized access is proven to be for a criminal intent such as hacking into bank accounts to steal money.
⦁ Unauthorised modification of computer material – This is another serious offence but it varies depending on the impact of the crime, for instance, the manipulation or personal software on a personal computer is small scale whereas the installation of a virus or malicious software on a corporate or government computer would be much more serious.
This act is important when designing a site as it must not help to facilitate the unauthorised access to computer systems whether to commit crime or not. Also, the data which is published on the site must not be that of which has been stolen by the means of unauthorized access.

Conclusion

Considering the research above, it has been decided that the website must be critically and specifically designed to fit the audience and all of the needs of that audience. Including good, simple and clean design that allows users to easily navigate and make use of the sites functionality. Coupled with this, the site must meet all requirements set up by the law in the acts mentioned above.

If all of these requirements and suggestions are met then a strong, user-friendly sit will be created. Once created the site will need to undergo various testing procedures to make sure the above criteria’s have been met and to highlight the improvements that could be made. It would be best to use external, users from a varied range of capabilities, this is an industry standard procedure which is often used to give reliable and worthy feedback.

Although this report covers the main website purposes when creating a website, I believe it could be more in-depth when considering the SEO, PPC and online advertising possibilities to increase the sites ranking and user base. For example, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine so forth this is fast becoming one of the most critical parts to web design in such a saturated market.

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