A website consists of content accessible through the internet. The website of a local seafood restaurant could be as simple as a single homepage displaying the business name and logo, a photograph of the restaurant’s exterior, a few menu items, location and contact information. The website for a multinational consumer products corporation could include entire catalogues for several product lines, interactive graphics, forums, shopping services, databases and whatever else was required to conduct the entire business online.

Regardless of how big or small, complex or simple a website is, there are certain steps that need to be taken to get it up and running, make it successful, and maintain it going forward. First you need to think through exactly what you want to accomplish with the website and who the target audience will be. For example, will you use the site purely for informational purposes, or do you want to sell products over the site as well?

Then you need to visualize how the website will look and feel, and how you would like visitors to interact with the available content. Are static photographs sufficient, or are interactive graphics and animation required? Do the customers need to perform pricing and other forms of calculation? Every function of the website needs to be identified and analyzed for it to be successful. If this is not done upfront, then your site could turn away as many customers as it attracts.

Once this basic description of the commercial requirements of the site is in place, then the technical work begins. The entire website needs to be designed and developed to realize your commercial vision. This includes an interwoven system of software programs that operate the website, including the user interface and all of the text, graphics, and sounds that will be included on the site. Then content must be developed or otherwise obtained and added to the site.

Finally, the programs and content that make up the website must be hosted on a server. This is where the website will reside and be maintained, and where your visitors will be directed via your domain name to view your website content. Typically, websites are hosted on servers owned by external hosting companies, who have the resources to cost-effectively maintain servers of sufficient bandwidth in a safe and secure environment.

There is one last thing to keep in mind when creating and launching a website. Both in the development of the computer programs operating the website, and with respect to the content that appears on the site, care must be taken to ensure that applicable intellectual property, consumer protection, and other laws are adhered to.

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