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Responsive Web Design & Development Services

 

In this guideline, my objective is to share some useful information based on my personal experiences and observations related to the designing and developing of a business website.
Your website can be a value-adding factor for the development and growth of your business.

Summary of this article

  1. Definitions of key terms and why they are important to understand e.g website, Server, HTTPS, SSL, Domain name, DNS, Hosting, and SEO.
  2. Types of websites and features involved which can help your businesses
  3. Logo designing options
  4. Several website options i.e hosted solutions vs open source
  5. DIY or hire someone to implement website
  6. Website promotion via PPC, social media, and SEO (is it worth the money?)
  7. Last but not least, Accounting treatment of website costs

Key terms defined

  • Website: It is a collection of digital web pages and related content i.e. images, and text, etc. coded together all sitting on a specific computer on the internet also known as a web server.
  • Web server: is a computer on the internet that runs special software and holds other files related to a website, such as HTML documents, images, and JavaScript files. If you go for a hosted solution, it is all taken care of else you will have to pay for a web server under a shared or dedicated hosting plan of your choice.
  • Hosting: The core purpose of Web server hardware is to host and connect to the internet to allow data to be exchanged with other connected devices.
  • HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) is the set of rules for transferring files, such as text, graphic images, sound, etc between connected devices. This is a special protocol used between devices to handle website viewing requests.
  • Protocol, as per computer science, is a set of rules or procedures for transmitting data between electronic devices, such as computers.
  • SSL: or Secure Sockets Layer, is an encryption-based Internet security protocol. It is for the purpose of ensuring privacy, authentication, and data integrity in Internet communications. This makes http to httpS, which is essential to make the website more secure and rank well on google.
  • Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is an extension of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). It is used for secure communication over a computer. The little padlock sign especially on checkout pages to make sure the connection is secure from hacking.
  • A domain name is a website name. A domain name is an address where Internet users can access a website. It is used for finding and identifying computers on the Internet. Computers use IP addresses, which are a series of numbers. However, it is difficult for humans to remember strings of numbers. Because of this, domain names were developed and used to identify entities on the Internet rather than using IP addresses. A bit like mobile numbers saved under names.
  • DNS: Domain Name System is a mechanism where IP addresses of computers hosting website files, servers are converted to domain names.

Things required for the website to work

  1. Domain name
  2. Web hosting
  3. Web site files and content

A domain name can be any combination of letters and numbers extensions, such as .com, .co.uk, .net, etc. The domain name must be registered before you can use it. Every domain name is unique. No two websites can have the same domain name. If someone types in https://www.faradaykeynes.co.uk/, it will go to my website and no one else's.
The domain name must be pointed to the web hosting server’s IP address via DNS setting so that user requests for a domain name can reach website files and content. 

Now how to get the domain name.

There are many websites on internet handle domain name purchase. You can check your domain name availability for your business. Once the required name confirmed to be available you can pay for it to reserve it for your ownership. Companies like 123reg or GoDaddy offer domain name registration, they also offer to host as well. Many hosting companies offer domain names too for free or some extra cost.

Tip: I would suggest keeping the domain name separate from the hosting company in case something goes wrong with the hosting company you can change DNS to the new hosting company to carry on business as usual by keeping downtime as short as possible.

Web hosting

Many companies offer web hosting at different prices and levels, you can run through your business requirements, i.e expected website traffic, the bandwidth required, disk space, speed of the server, shared or dedicated hosting, size of the website, location of the webserver, etc. Many factors to take into account. We can help you with this to make an informed decision about hosting requirements. Here is a link to our favorite hosting provider with excellent customer service, speed, value for money, and up time if you are looking for your own hosting instead of a hosted option.

Web site files and content
 This is another crucial element you need to look into i.e. how to generate files and contents for your website.
You have many roads to take from here

  1. Logo design
  2. Hosted solutions with website builders software
  3. Hosting with open source CMS
  4. Custom design and hosting ( This option is mainly where you hire a developer for the complicated project and sensitive hosting requirements with a relatively high budget in place)

The logo is a very important part of the business. You can search many online options to create a logo, some are free and some are not. Similarly, you can hire a logo designer to get the job done, many freelancer websites are out there for this kind of venture OR you can take the bull by the horn and do it yourself self-using some excellent software that cost nothing like Inkscape, GIMP, paint-net or even Microsoft publisher. There is a bit of learning curve here but you will earn skills that will go long way in term of not only generating logo but graphics which can be used on your website and business later on. (Like the one above I did as an example). There is one of my favorites, AAA logo, its paid software, very good for a logo especially, and great value for money.
Hosted solutions.

 These are solutions for a website where you subscribe to a particular platform’s hosting plan and based on the price you want and pay you to get features of the website accordingly. There are many on the market, to name some 

  •  BigCommerce (for e-commerce)
  •  Shopify (for e-commerce)
  •  WordPress.com (for e-commerce + static content & Blog)
  •  Weebly
  •  Squarespace
  •  Wix
  •  GoDaddy Website Builder

It's best to visit the website for each provider and study the pros and cons. As you compare the website builders, it’s a good idea that you write down what you want from your website? Your goals and features you would like to have on your website. The list of these providers is long and so are the pros and cons. To summarise globally here are some benefits

  1. Drag and drop page builders
  2. No need to learn extensive HTML, PHP, and CSS codes though know-how will help a lot
  3. Free professional quality images
  4. Responsive predefined templates which can be a downside as well if you want to customize it
  5. live support 24/7
  6. logo making options
  7. Contact and lead capture forms
  8. Email marketing plans
  9. Built-in support for eCommerce
  10. Some do offer in-store POS, which means you can sell products at your location while accepting all credit cards and taking advantage of their inventory, shipping, marketing, and stats management tools.

Cons

  1. Third-party add-ons cannot be installed to website to add new features, you are stuck with add-ons provided by the site builder
  2. Hiring a developer to significantly modify website design or add new features to your website is not always possible.
  3. Site migration to other platforms or hosting companies is not always possible unless starting from zero again with the new system.
  4. Prices can depend on the number of pages or products listed on the site.
  5. There might be a transaction fee for use of default payment gateways.
  6. Overall price plan can be expensive in long run considering business expansion compared to open source + own hosting route

Hosting with open source CMS

Open source: mean in general software for which the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified.
CMS stands for “Content Management System” is an option where open source software is used to create a website and manage contents
Web pages are written in HTML, PHP, JavaScript, and CSS programming languages. Open-source CMS takes care of all this with the flexibility of customization.
To name a few open sources CMS here are the most popular ones

  1. WordPress
  2. Joomla (my favorite, for both e-commerce+ contents + blog)
  3. Drupal
  4. WooCommerce
  5. Magento (for e-commerce)
  6. PrestaShop (e-commerce)
  7. Opencart (one of the best e-commerce open-source options, see our live website for IT products,  technur.co.uk )

Benefits of Open-source CMS

  1. Easy to use
  2. A lot of templates option both free and paid or create your own via 3rd party apps
  3. Easy to import and export data for further analysis
  4. Extensions and add-ons are feature-rich modules/widgets which can enhance website functionality to great extent with customization as a flexibility option. These can be added and removed as and when needed. E.g I added a Dividends calculator to my website
  5. Dedicated CMS based support is limited to FAQs/documentation but the plus side is a big supportive community and the option to hire developers to sort out any complex issues
  6. Most CMS platforms are completely free. Some charge a monthly fee. Even with free ones, there is often a need to pay for third-party extensions, designs, and/or web hosting services.
  7. Most web hosts offer a 1 click installation
  8. An E-commerce store can be run as extensions or some CMS are dedicated e-commerce platforms

Cons

  1. Flexibility comes with the cost of a learning curve
  2. Compatibility issues if you have a lot of different extensions and modules installed.

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

The concept behind SEO is an organic ranking of the website on search engines especially google. It is a long-term game nothing happens overnight.
The basic level starts with selecting the right keywords and descriptions for your website pages. Several tools available for keyword searching based on how many impressions, clicks, and expected ranking difficulty. Good homework is required before launching a website to optimize with correct and relevant keywords as getting it wrong can cause more damage to website ranking than bringing any good. Google’s own keyword planner is a good starting point.
The intermediate level is to run the site through several SEO tools to check codes under the hood are all SEO friendly and error-free. This is done to make sure the site is being read by search engines as per ranking criteria. To name some tools, Google Site speed test and mobile user-friendly test are must at least.
Here are an example of both above based on my minisite “ Milton Keynes Accountant” 

Google Page speed test (anything above 90 is decent)
  
Mobile-Friendly Test

Google data structure test

Advance Level is for best left to SEO experts, this can cost a lot of money as its long term game and a lot of things involved including unique content creation, Link building (both non-follow-href and follow-href) and preferably, guest posting, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, etc. 

Apart from SEO, you should not neglect pay per click advert, social media sharing, and networking

Last but not least how to account for all these costs above in your books and accounts

Accounting treatment of website development costs 

An issue that is generating debate is the accounting treatment for software and website development costs. FRS 102 does not address the classification of software and website development costs and therefore in the absence of specific guidance, reporting entities are required to develop and apply a suitable accounting policy to classify such costs as either tangible or intangible fixed assets.

Software and website costs that are being developed internally are dealt with under Section 18 of FRS 102 as research and development costs. All research expenditure (pure and applied) must be written off to profit or loss as expenditure; there is no option at all to capitalize on research expenditure. This is because, in the research phase of a project, an entity will be unable to demonstrate that an intangible asset exists which will generate probable future economic benefits.
Once the research phase has completed and the project has been moved into the development phase, the entity may recognize software and website development costs if, and only if, an entity can demonstrate all of the following:

  1. The technical feasibility of completing the intangible asset so that it will be available for use or sale.
  2. Its intention to complete the intangible asset and use or sell it.
  3. Its ability to use or sell the intangible asset.
  4. How the intangible asset will generate probable future economic benefits. Among other things, the entity can demonstrate the existence of a market for the output of the intangible asset or the intangible asset itself or, if it is to be used internally, the usefulness of the intangible asset.
  5. The availability of adequate technical, financial, and other resources to complete the development and to use or sell the intangible asset.
  6. Its ability to measure reliably the expenditure attributable to the intangible asset during its development.
  7. Micro-entities reporting under FRS 105 The Financial Reporting Standard applicable to the Micro-entities Regime cannot capitalize any development costs; all such costs are written off to the profit and loss account as incurred.

Website development costs should only be capitalized if they meet the recognition criteria of an asset; one of those criteria being that ‘it is probable that the expected future economic that are attributable to the asset will flow to the entity.
To assess whether costs qualify for recognition on the balance sheet, the entity must look at the overall functionality of the website. If the website will allow third parties to place orders for goods or services, then this creates a revenue stream for the business (i.e. economic benefit). Provided the cost can be measured reliably and none of the expenditure relates to research costs, then the website may be capitalized on the balance sheet as an intangible asset and amortized over its useful economic life. Please note that under FRS 102, intangible assets cannot have indefinite useful lives.
If the website does not generate income for the business, then it will fail to meet the asset recognition criteria and the costs must be written off to profit or loss.
Care must be taken with the accounting treatment for website development costs because mistakes can be costly (especially if the incorrect tax treatment is applied).

Conclusion

Good homework is important for getting the right results, having a glamorous-looking website is not enough, having a lot of traffic alone is not good either unless that traffic is converting to revenue. It is a good idea to pick the brain of an expert in the industry to make an informed choice. As once system and setup selected shifting from that is not an easy thing for growing business. Please feel free to contact us for FREE initial generic consultation. I am sure we can be of great help.
I leave it to my client to pick whatever accounting software they want to use based on their needs and comfort after consultation and then work with them instead of pushing them to a particular software option.
 
If you need any help with your website for whichever option you pick, I am happy to assist you based on my experience and expertise on the subject for a nominal fee.
 
Kind Regards
Omer
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