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Smallsite Design

1:Benefits of using Smallsite Design

Smallsite Design was conceived to help those for whom maintaining a web site seems too technical, or those for whom even thinking about how to layout a site is too daunting.

Normal website design tools allow a huge amount of freedom to layout your pages as you see fit. Now, while that may work for people who have design skills, for most, there will be a lot of versions with dubious layouts, making the whole process rather frustrating.

Instead, Smallsite Design uses a lot of fixed layout values, such as vertical spacing between elements, text colours and what elements are allowed where, so that there are few decisions that will result in disharmonies in the layout.

Such restrictions can be made because Smallsite Design is primarilly targeted for producing text-based pages, where layouts have had centuries of print layout designing to shake out what doesn't generally work, so even if your writing could use a lot of improvement, your pages will still look good!

A consequence is that Smallsite Design does not have the huge photgraphic emphasis of the so-called modern look. However, those designs are very dependent upon a high level of photographic and layout skills if they are to be effective in keeping people engaged on your site. If you want that look, and have the skills for it, there are many other tools available to help you.

Smallsite Design is for writers, and their audiences are mainly those who like to read, rather than just look at pictures. Smallsite Design supports building pages that their readers will readily be at home with. It allows pictures, but in asides, or inline with an introduction, so that they support the page, rather than overtake the rest of the content.

However, Smallsite Design does:

  1. a.Allow for larger so-called 'hero' pictures as a background for the banner, with custom placement of headline and byline text.
  2. b.Provide heading+picture+intro navigation cards to give prominence to significant parts of your site.

Mobile-friendly ^

With over half of all web-browsing being done on mobile devices, web sites have to be able to cater for a large range of viewing screen sizes.

The two main ways that can be done are:

  1. a.Maintain separate sites for mobiles and desktop visitors.
  2. b.Use a fluid design, that adapts information to the size of the viewing device.

For complex layouts, the former is probably the only way to adequately cater for them. Because Smallsite Design is focussed on a simpler layout paradigm, fluid design is easily accomplished, without any special considerations required by the writer.

The mobile-friendlines of Smallsite Design is not limited to viewability, but extends that to editing as well, so that the ongoing maintenance of your site can be done on a tablet or smartphone, while on the train, or whatever.

Google uses their mobile search bot, rather than their desktop one, for searching sites built with Smallsite Design, because they consider the sites compatible with both scenarios, and mobile has overtaken the desktop as the majority-preferred search platform.

Single SSL security certificate ^

If using their most-popular Chrome browser, Google now shows sites not using SSL certificates (for https prefix) as being insecure, so it is important to use them if you want your visitors to trust your site.

Minimally, an SSL certificate protects the communication channel from being eavedropped upon by a malicious third party. However, even wildcard certificates typically only work for the main site and one level of subdomain (subsite), which means a full site with subsites and locale subsites off that would require a complex multi-certificate setup.

Smallsite Design provides the functionality of subsites (own home page and navigation), and locale subsites off those, but in an arrangement that only requires a single SSL certificate, which are readily available for under US$5 per year, and take less than 10 minutes to buy and install, though the later versions of cPanel, upon which Smallsite Design usually runs, includes free certificates that cover all sites and thier subdomains.

Unsuitable for ^

By making several layout restrictions, there are several scenarios for which Smallsite Design is likely to be unsuitable.

Smallsite Design is intended for presenting public information, adaptable to a wide range of screens sizes. It is not, and is not designed to be, a comprehensive, one-size-fits-all web solution.

The main scenarios for which there are better design tools available are:

  1. a.Heavily picture-based layouts, as the target audience is not expected to have the sophisticated skills to effectively utilise pictures as the primary infomation conveying paradigm.
  2. b.Sophisticated layouts, like maths or programming. These usually require precise positioning, which tends to work against fluid design.
  3. c.HTML tinkering. Smallsite Design does not expose the raw HTML, but is focussed on editing the document structure, and generating the HTML on-the-fly.
  4. d.Data collection, as Smallsite Design does not use a general purpose database to store info for itself.
  5. e.Sale of goods - link to an installed third-party shopping cart, or use a fulfilment provider.
  6. f.Comments – link to an associated Disqus or LinkedIn post page. Comments typically require sophisticated identity management to protect users' privacy
  7. g.Multiple users with secure access to their own private information.

However, Smallsite Design can be used to provide your basic site maintenance needs, while you can install or link to third-party modules and providers to perfom specialist needs. Note that for some needs, like shopping carts, you will need substantial professional help to set them up and maintain them, which is why they are not included in Smallsite Design.

Smallsite Design is for those whose customers like to do thorough research into what they are interested in. They are more likely to spend 10-15 minutes reading all they can, rather than just clicking around pictures out of curiosity. Words, they love them, and words are what Smallsite Design is built for!


Related sites ^

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