At Leading Technology Solutions, we design websites using a range of cutting-edge Open Source technologies, and believe in creating websites that are designed well.
In order to provide the best solution for your IT needs, we will work with you closely to define your requirements. Throughout this process we provide guidance on the various possibilities available to you. We then use these discussions to determine an appropriate design solution.
This stage is where we build your IT system to an agreed specification. Of course, the only certainty in software design is that the specification will change, therefore we are committed to showing work in progress to ensure that your needs are being met.
After delivering your IT solution and handing over to your staff, we can provide extra support such as staff training, routine maintenance and callout support if problems arise in the future.
If you have an existing website and are unhappy with it, Spiral Technology can work with you to redesign your site. We can move your site and all existing content to a Content Management System, such as Joomla, and can then offer you a wide range of services integrated with your website, such as a bulletin board (phpBB) and member subscriptions.
A CMS will also let you easily keep your own site up-to-date through a simple online interface, thereby saving you money by reducing your reliance on a third party to make simple changes to your site.
If you have outgrown your existing bespoke website, we can either add functionality to the existing framework or, if the changes required are substantial and the existing site structure too restrictive, rewrite the whole site from the bottom up, to your specification.
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to optimising websites for search engines, known as Search Engine Optimisation or SEO.
The first approach is to fool google.com and other search engines into giving your website a good ranking. There are various tricks that help to achieve this, including the addition of hidden keywords within the pages of your site (increasing your page's perceived relevance), using wikis and blog comments to link to your site using your chosen keywords (increasing your page's PageRank), and others. This method can cause your site to reach the top of the rankings fairly quickly, but has a major problem - google and the other search engines are actively working to defeat this method of 'cheating'. You might find one day that google has released a fix to their PageRank algorithm which causes your site to lose its high ranking, or worse that google blacklists your site as a known 'cheating' site and you have little or no hope of ever obtaining a decent ranking again.
The second approach, and the one which LTS uses for our websites, is to ensure that each and every page within your site is well planned out and gives the relevant information required - and nothing else.
Firstly, the URL for the page should reflect the contents of the page. For a contact page, a URL of http://www.lts.co.nz/contact is going to look better to google than a page with a URL of http://www.lts.co.nz/index.php?option=com_contact&Itemid=3.
As an example of how our approach can work, a global search on google's NZ server for Leading Technology Solutions shows our site's homepage as the top ranking site. Similarly, a search for LTS currently has our site in second place. This has been achieved without using any 'tricks', but simply with attention to detail and a well-crafted design.
For our websites the pages are structured using minimal and correct HTML, so the page's main title will be in a H1 header tag. This way, google knows that this is an area with important key words. So, a title of
<h1>Welcome to Example.com</h1>
will rank better than
<font size="2" face="Verdana">Welcome to Example.com</font>
This approach is used throughout each page of the site, allowing google to more easily read the site and index it. All style information is moved out of the HTML document and into a StyleSheet.
Using this Semantic approach to design has other benefits:
- Firstly, the size of each page is normally reduced by 50% or more compared to an identical-looking page which uses tables and styling in HTML. This brings down bandwidth requirements, and as a result reduces hosting costs.
- Semantic HTML is easily read by Screen Readers, and as such gives blind people easy access to your site.
- Percentage sizes are used for fonts, so that text size can be easily increased and allow easy reading for people with poor eyesight.
- The use of CSS StyleSheets allows for multiple styles to be available. A high contrast colour scheme can be offered in a separate StyleSheet, further aiding people with poor eyesight.
- We employ a separate stylesheet for printouts. This removes un-needed images and menus and generally simplifies the layout to aid printing. For an example of this, just click on File, Print Preview to see how this page would look when printed.
- A StyleSheet for mobile devices can be created which reduces image sizes, simplifies menus and organises the page vertically, allowing the page to fit horizontally on the screen.
- All sites are fluid width, unless you specify otherwise for your site. This means that a visitor with an old 640x480 screen is going to find it as easy to use your site as a visitor with a 1600x1200 screen.
The use of popular Open Source Content Management systems by LTS (Joomla, Drupal, CMS Made Simple) has some implications regarding security. As these solutions have been written by teams of highly motivated and skilled invividuals, the programming quality is high and as a result the producsts are very secure. At the same time, no product is bug-free. As the above-mentioned Content Management Systems are all high profile products, bugs are quickly reported and patches or updated releases are released. Our release strategy at LTS ensures that after compatibility testing these updates are rolled out to all of our production websites.
Our websites are hosted on Linux servers running the Apache web server. Apache has a long history of being a very secure web server, and is the most popular choice of web server in use in the world today.
When we have finished setting up your website, we are able to remove any access we have to your site if your security policy requires this. If problems arise later on, we will be more than happy to walk you through the steps required to give us temporary access to your site, in order that we can help you to resolve your problems.
As Internet Explorer is not the only web browser around, we test our websites on a variety of browsers on multiple platforms. Our standard suite of tests includes Internet Explorer (versions 5, 5.5, 6 and 7), Firefox, Opera and Safari on Windows and Firefox and Opera on Linux. Below are recent statistics from Wikipedia showing browser popularity:
Mozilla Firefox has been consistently gaining market share for the last several years, and both Safari and Opera have enough of a share of the browser market that they can't be ignored. With the slow uptake of Internet Explorer 7, it's easy to understand why we use so many browsers to check that our websites display the way we want them to.
LTS can also expand these tests to include mobile devices, more obscure browsers (Lynx, Konqueror) and any other medium you expect your site to be viewed on.