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Constellation Design: Website Services
Constellation Design

Great Living Today is one example of a Website.

Unless you’ve just arrived in our Inter­net age via time warp or cryogenic freeze, you probably already know what a Website is: A specific piece of the World Wide Web from which to display or otherwise distribute inform­ation and/or media. Websites can be large or small, compli­cated or simple, vibrant or subdued, plain or stylish. They can also, like any other project, be professionally-built or do-it-yourself (if you’re considering a DIY Website, you can check out some resources for such an undertaking here).

Websites can also be made with the aid of authoring software like Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft ExpressionWeb; though these kinds of programs do have their uses, they also have a tendency to get in the way, rewrite important pathways without being asked, and bloat sites with unwanted flotsam, so our standard is to hand-code all of our projects with HTML, PHP, Javascript, and other goodies in the coding world. We can utilize such software if you need to integrate a project with an existing one of your own, though.

Constellation can work from your specifications for a new or revamped Website or come up with a design from scratch (or any combination thereof). When you’re ready for a professionally-made home on the Web, please get in touch. Call, drop an e-mail, or fill out our preliminary Website project form and give us an idea of what you’re after. We’ll get back to you in short order and, assuming all parties are in agreement, get started on your Website!

Each Website on the Internet has what’s called a domain name and a host. Domains are identifiers, addresses on the Web where sites live that always end with a specific suffix, most commonly “.com” or “.net”. Examples of domain names are abcnews.com, newyorktimes.com, and npr.org. The domain name of this site is constellationdesign.net.

A site’s domain name is part of the URL displayed in a
Web browser’s address bar.

Hosts are the physical servers where files for a Website reside and are accessed from on the Internet. A hosting account is accessed through File Transfer Protocol (FTP) to upload site files and media for publication on the Internet. Usually hosting is purchased for an annual subscription fee from a hosting provider. Both domains and hosting generally include access to e-mail accounts tied to them and therefore separate from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) like AOL.com or MSN.com. Constellation can arrange the setup of your domain and Web hosting independently or as part of a Website design/production project. If you choose to host with Constellation Design, your site will be powered by wind energy and you may be eligible for hosting rates lower than are generally found elsewhere.

Software such as WS_FTP is often used to upload files to a Website.

More often than not, a Website is never truly “finished”—it requires main­ten­ance, usually in the form of content updates, sometimes in the area of “infra­structure” (like a new shopping cart or changes to forms that customers use to contact you). If you already have a Website and would rather not handle the updates and other maintenance yourself, we can help you out. We can also, of course, do the maintenance on any new site Constellation builds for you!

The most commonly used Web browsers today are Mozilla Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Opera, and Konqueror.

It’s a nuisance reality of the Internet that no two Web browsers are created equal. Some are good and some are not so good, and which is which is largely up to interpretation. We have our favorite brows­ers here at Constellation Design (the Mozilla line, in case you’re wonder­ing, though they don’t support everything either), but lots and lots of people use others, and though the browser world is inching toward imple­menting standards for rendering code, different browsers still display some things differently. If you design a site for Internet Explorer, for example, users of Safari or Netscape may find serious display or functionality prob­lems with your code (missing or overlapping text is common, as are image misalignments and problems with audio plug­ins). On the other hand, IE offers some bells and whistles you might want to incorporate for its users and Mozilla will do things you might want to utilize for its users. Generally speaking, people want their Websites to be displayed correctly as often as possible, so to accommodate that it befalls the site coder to consider the strengths and weak­nesses of several different Web browsers and code accord­ingly.

Common browser compatibility errors are evident in this page from the outfit
I play softball with, Underdog Seattle. Although things look good in Opera (above), in Netscape (below) and other browsers the upper portion has problems: the logo is split, text wraps unintentionally, and the phone number is bumped to the yellow line below its intended space.

Web graphics include things like photos, illustrations, logos, stylized text, slideshows, backgrounds, and so on. Web audio components are sound files which can be played on a Website or downloaded from a site to a user’s computer to play later. Constellation can design brand new graphics for you or adjust your existing imagery to be suitable for the Web, and we can take your audio recordings—mp3 or other digital file, CD audio, cassette tape recording—and incorporate them into your Website!

Any recording can be turned into Web audio, even this one of my friend Mike and me announcing half an inning of a 1996 baseball game in Cleveland.

Have you got images or photographs on paper that you want to use on a Website or in e-mail, or for a digtial printing project? We can scan them as digital files and format them accordingly, then deliver them to you electronically or on a CD.

Say you have a photograph or other image that you want to display on paper or use online, but it’s marred or faded with age or your thumb is in the corner of the photo. Digital touch-up can, depending on the nature of the mars, fades, or thumb coverge, improve the appearance of the image and make it more presentable.

With Adobe’s Portable Document Format, any document can be posted online or transmitted via e-mail. With Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader program, PDF files are readable cross-platform, just as happy with Macintosh systems as they are with Windows and Linux computers, so you can be sure there are no compatibility issues between sender and recipient. PDF files are easily printed from the recipient’s computer, saving you the hassle and expense of mailing paper, and have the time-saving benefit of near-instant online transmission. Moreover, PDF files can be linked to the Internet, allowing readers to click on hyperlinked text (while reading onscreen, of course) and get an instant e-mail interface, be taken to external Websites, or redirected elsewhere in the document. Constellation Design can take your existing documents—word processed materials, charts, photographs, items created on Microsoft Publisher or other presentation software, even hardcopy documents—and turn them into PDF files.

Image maps are Web graphics that have links on them arranged in particular shapes. If you have an image of, say, a pie chart, and want your site user to be able to click on any area in a wedge-shaped chunk of the pie to link to something but don’t want the surrounding areas to link to the same thing, you would need an image map. Image maps can be made from raw code or with the help of graphics software packages like Adobe ImageReady.

In this image map, each state has its own link element even though
the map as a whole is a single image file.

This mugshot-dissolve of my head is a simple example of a Flash application.

Flash is a very versatile and often compli­cated graphic and sound medium used frequently on the Web. A Flash module can be an animated logo or masthead, a fancy link button, a talking cartoon, a video game, or a complete Website unto itself, among other things. Most examples of Flash on the Web are in advertising, like the ads found on MSNBC.com. More elaborate Flash programs pop up promoting TV and film, like on the Sci-Fi Channel Website; as cartoons like StrongBad e-mail; and as online time­wasters, such as the highly amusing William Shatner Acting Simulator.

The navigation buttons and hosting graphic at the left of this site are also Flash animations.

Strengthen your virtual presence: Constellation can put you or your business on the cyber map with a custom-designed Website or enhanced revisions to your existing Internet material. We offer services in:

A few words about pricing:

The first question I get asked about Website work is often “how much will it cost?” The answer to which is, invariably, “it depends.” It depends on how elaborate the Website is, how “deep”—that is, how many layers of pages—the site is, how much graphic/photo optimizing is needed, how much there is in the way of design and pro­gram­ming to be done, how many bells and whistles you want to include. If you are on a tight budget, tell us your parameters and we’ll be glad to let you know what is feasible for your level of resources. Unless alternative arrange­ments are made in advance, Constel­la­tion Design charges by the hour at a compet­itive rate. As a general rule, smaller sites (say, less than 10 pages) work out to be in the neighborhood of $150-$175 per page. Larger sites often break down to less per page when there is standard formatting throughout the site. If you fill out Constellation’s preliminary Website project form, it will help to gauge how complicated your project will be.

For more information or general queries, please contact Constellation today!

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