Website and Intranet Design
It really is software.

Anyone can learn basic HTML (HyperText Markup Language) to compose a simple web page, but a good website requires much more, including:

User interface and visual design skills

Design tip:
Don't be "color happy". Use the guidelines in our design pattern Color Is Information.
Due to its interactive nature, the design requirements of a website are like those of any software product. All of the concerns about user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), including visual design, navigation, performance, and error recovery apply just as they do to software systems. Web surfers will quickly teleport out of a site that is hard to read, poorly organized, boring, slow to perform or difficult to navigate — and they'll likely never come back. Poorly designed Intranet sites will increase rather than decrease overhead. Websites should be designed as complete interactive software systems.
Knowing how different web browsers display pages differently
You may be horrified to see how terrible your beautiful website looks with browsers you don't use.
Websites using advanced or non-standard web technologies, including HTML, CSS and JavaScript, that are supported only by some browsers may look terrible with other browsers. Older browsers do not fully support the latest versions of HTML (now HTML5), and they all render HTML tags, fonts, forms, tables and graphics differently. Futhermore, many browsers frankly have bugs and poor implementations of HTML tags (and CSS, and JavaScript) that a good website must work around. One of the biggest challenges in website development is to best utilize advanced HTML features while ensuring it works for the lowest common denominator of browser capabilities.
Anticipating the effect of different computer capabilities
Responsive design for
The same web page can be rendered quite differently on different machines, from mobile devices and low-end PCs to high-end workstations. Even with the same browser program, preformatted text, tables, forms, and colorful high-resolution graphics will look different on machines with different display capabilities. A web page that looks dazzling on a high-end machine may not display well on low-end machines with limited horsepower, color depth or resolution. Handheld devices such as phones and tablets present problems such as small screens and touch interfaces. (Mouseover won't work on a touch screen!)

Here again, the challenge is to guarantee that the website reads and performs well with the capabilities of all computer systems. If your market is the general population, your site needs to support old desktop browsers and versions of HTML and CSS. If your market is strictly mobile users, your site only needs to support HTML5 and CSS3, but you have other problems such as device support. If your market is both, your site needs Progressive Enhancement and/or Responsive Web Design (RWD).

Understanding the underlying Internet technology
The majority of websites are hosted by a LAMP (Linux, Apache, mySQL and Perl/PHP/Python) server configuration.
Knowing how the Internet works, including email, TCP/IP, domains, client-server technology, HTTP daemons (such as Apache) and web server operating systems (primarily UNIX class systems such as Solaris and Linux) leads to good systems design decisions. This is is critical even if you don't install your own server (and pay for its maintenance), an option not affordable for a small businesses and organizations. It doesn't matter how good your site reads and looks if the underlying technology makes it slow, unreliable, insecure or full of bugs.
Programming and scripting skills
Do you need image processing, PHP or AJAX expertise? Check out our Interactive Image Editing solution using JavaScript and AJAX with PHP.

Do you need a slide show on your website? Check out our AJAX-like JavaScript Slide Show solution.

Do you need an automatically generated table of contents for a document collection? Check out our JavaScript Navigation solution.

Problems maintaining email addresses? Check out our JavaScript Email solution.

Need KML for Google Maps or Google Earth? Check out how we can help you visualize geographic information with KML Graphics.
An advanced website really is software, not just HTML. CGI (Common Gateway Interface) and other server-side programs are typically written in C, C++, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, Java or even calls to UNIX/Linux shell commands. With increasing interactive web technologies, even the client side is becoming more a software implementation.

Creating websites that are efficient and easy to maintain requires understanding good software design and engineering practices. If your online software tools, forms and scripts don't work well it reflects poorly on the products and services your website promotes.

"Dynamic HTML" (DHTML) requires understanding JavaScript and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). Unfortunately supporting older browsers is a headache; even browsers that claim to be W3C compliant implement these differently. And complex browser detection and browser-specific code is not the answer!

Advanced so-called Web 2.0 sites require an understanding of AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) technologies, as well as understanding the hype and buzz. AJAX does not require data formatting in XML, and preventing unnecessary page loads to enhance interactivity and performance can often be accomplished without an XMLHttpRequest to the server.

Designing, configuring and maintaining large complex websites
Do you need help with your web software package such as Sirsi Unicorn iBistro running on UNIX, Solaris or Linux? Send us an SOS!
Many advanced websites are essentially complex commerical software packages consisting of web server, database software, a suite of programs and scripts, a set of web page templates, a WYSIWIG web page editor, and configuration files. These packages are typically beyond the technical skills of the organization's staff, requiring specialized and often expensive training, or hiring web specialists whose full time jobs are to maintain the website system. The web server itself might run on an operating system (such as UNIX, Solaris, Linux or Mac's OSX) that is unfamiliar to nontechnical staff whose only experience is at the user level of MicroSoft Windows.

The challenge here is for the suppliers of these packages to provide facilities that the "mere mortal" can use to configure, customize and maintain the system. Even then, the end-users of these packages may find that outside training and consulting is the most cost-effective way to get the biggest bang for their bucks.

Small and medium size business sites
Examples of a small business site we developed:

1. A minimalist responsive web design for Wynn Landscape Architects, Inc., featuring project portfolio slide shows.

2. A web content publishing solution for, featuring buying guides for computers, smartphones and more.

Websites for small and medium size businesses need not be "cookie cutter designs" using packaged templates, themes and skins that make them look and feel like dozens or hundreds of others. Capitalizing on free open source software (FOSS) these businesses can have websites whose functionality rivals those of large corporations. (In fact, some websites for some major companies are built on this same web software.) Our web design and engineering experise enables us to create unique sites for small and medium businesses that look, feel and function with the sophistication of major complex sites.

The more content you can provide the more affordable it will be, but we will make suggestions for the text in concert with meta tags for search engine optimization (SEO) so that people can readily find you.

Responding to the unique marketing factors of cyberspace
As a marketing medium a website is unique. As the web has become more more ubiquitous since the mid-1990s, the demographics of the typical web surfer have normalized. Today at least one PC with web access is a "must have" appliance in almost every household. But the younger population, especially those who grew up on the web, and "early adopters" who are quick to embrace new technologies are still more likely to use cutting-edge web technologies, such as broadband and wireless access or mobile and hand-held platforms. These differences have implications for marketing as well as browser and device support.

Unlike TV or print publications, the web does not provide a captive audience — it's not as simple as "if you build it they'll come". Your website must provide a reason for cruisers to visit, and it must be easy for people to find through links from other sites, web directories and search engines. This is so important that search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) has become an entire industry in itself. In addition, social networking on sites such as Facebook and Twitter now provide a new kind of word-of-mouth advertising.

Our experience with software development and engineering, user interface issues, visual design, marketing, and a whole systems design methodology, provides us with web design capabilities that are unique in the industry. To get expert help for your internet, intranet or extranet design needs call Design Matrix at (310) 455 3107 or

Joint projects with other software and web designers are welcome.