Creating websites, a subtle art
It’s not complicated to create your own website; it only takes a few hours to publish your first website on the internet. But something is problematic with this approach. Your website may not meet several criteria to be legally compliant and be able to withstand cyberattacks.
That’s why at Gweny.be, we take everything that lies behind the appearance of your website very seriously.
Here’s how we proceed: The first step is to rent a server to host your site, so it’s accessible from anywhere in the world (provided there’s internet access). To do this, we rent our servers from one of the largest existing hosting providers to ensure optimal use and stay up-to-date regarding the server side. As a bonus, this host is also dedicated to minimizing its ecological impact, thus being environmentally conscious.
Next, we need to purchase a domain name. This is also done through annual payment and allows you to have your own domain name, which looks very professional.
The second, more common method (which we use), is to use a Content Management System (CMS) to create your website from a pre-made foundation. Using a CMS allows for quicker focus on design and easier integration of additional elements like website translation, caching, cookie banners, etc. Most importantly, a CMS enables the owner to make simple modifications without having to learn coding.
The next step is designing the website. This is our favorite part, as it’s where your website stands out from all the others! It allows for attractiveness and uniqueness. However, we won’t dwell on this part in this article, as it’s mostly a collaborative process with you to bring your idea to life.
Returning to what lies behind a website, here’s the order of things we need to set up after the design phase.
Legal standards (cookies)
The first important thing, not necessarily widely known among the general public, is to comply with local legal standards. This involves following rules established by the government (depending on the country) and the European GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). GDPR, in effect since 2016, allows every user to freely choose how we handle their data. More concretely, it mandates that any website used in the European territory displays a banner during the first visit to ask for agreement or disagreement to store useful information (cookies) on our site. Cookies are data stored in small files, allowing, for example, tracking how often someone visits our site, how long they stay, etc.
Our websites can be translated to make them accessible to a wider audience. This takes a lot of time because there’s no magic solution. Each page must be duplicated and then translated one by one (yes, each one). So, a 5-page website suddenly becomes a 15-page website if you want to translate it into two other languages. This requires adjustments to provide a smooth experience for users and is typically done after the site is completed.
What does SEO mean? “Search Engine Optimization” (for example, Google, Bing…). It’s an important part of your website because it helps your site show up when someone searches for it on the web. Google is the most well-known and widely used search engine globally, so it holds significant power over how we present our website, ensuring it stands out instead of someone else with a similar name. Our team has known the best SEO practices for a long time and does excellent work in this field.
Caching and speed optimization
Another important aspect for search engine visibility and providing a pleasant user experience is having a website that loads quickly. What’s worse than waiting for a page that won’t display? So, there are numerous methods to make your website as fast as possible, from optimizing images and code to regular server maintenance and using a system that preloads your pages to load them faster on subsequent visits. This part is highly technical, and we strive to keep our websites as optimized as possible.
Responsive layout for all screens
The final point, often highlighted in the web design world, is automatic adaptation of pages based on the device used (called responsive design). This is typically done last. The process is straightforward: when the site’s appearance and overall content are created, you adjust all elements based on screen size. Generally, a website’s design is developed for a computer screen, and to make it user-friendly on smaller devices (like tablets), a “breakpoint” is added. This is a critical point where the page layout changes if that size is exceeded. So, you end up creating three different designs: one for computers (the base design), one for tablets, and one for smartphones. Then, the browser automatically selects the most suitable design based on the screen used. This last point is generally done last to avoid multiple back-and-forths between the three designs, thus streamlining the process.
So, these are the main aspects of a website that might not be well-known by everyone. It’s about creating a user-friendly site that stays at the forefront of the latest technologies. That’s why it’s recommended to engage with an agency and not embark on this adventure alone!