Technology and Technique

In today's world, a website has to be equally usable for both traditional desktop and laptop computers, plus modern smartphones and tablet devices.
Responsive/ Adaptive design is a mechanism that enables a web page to resize and rearrange itself to fit on any size or type of screen.

Check out the demo graphic below for a simple example of how a Responsive/ Adaptive site can work (certainly not the only way!)

Responsive/ Adaptive Demo

Responsive refers to the ability of page content to rearrange itself into a pre-determined grid, with rows and columns of specific sizes, based on screen size. At Artisan Site Designs we roll the Bootstrap 3 framework into your site to enable Responsiveness.

Adaptive means that any given element of a web page (an image or block of text) will scale itself based directly as a percentage of screen size.

Installing Responsive/Adaptive technologies in their stock form does not yield a quality site. Responsive/Adaptive (or any mobile web technology) must be carefully planned and deliberately implemented, with mobile and desktop visitors both considered from the very start.

Why do we believe that Responsive/ Adaptive is generally the best choice for the small to medium website?
It's accesssible on all types of computers, phones, and tablets /pads.
There is only one version of website content to maintain, automatically customized to fit on different computers/devices.
No programmers or developers are required, Responsive/ Adaptive employs all off-the-shelf solutions in their stock form.
Having only one set of content means that there is no danger of Google mistakenly penalizing your site for the offense of Site Cloaking.
Visitors to your site do not need to install any special software.
These advantages combine to make Responsive/ Adaptive one of the simplest options for creating a website accessible to all visitors, and this simplicity keeps the cost of creating and maintaining Responsive/ Adaptive design websites lower than other options.

Is Responsive/Adaptive My Only Choice?

Responsive/ Adaptive is not the only method that can be used to make web content accessible on mobile devices; below are two other methods, and their advantages and drawbacks.

Appendix A: Alternative to Responsive/ Adaptive Design: A Separate Mobile Website
Appendix B: Alternative to Responsive/ Adaptive Design: Phone Apps

Scaled Vector Graphics

We have years of experience working with standard photographic and raster type images, such as JPG, PNG, TIF, GIF and others, but we are also advocates of a cutting-edge form of graphics called Scaled Vector Graphics or SVG's for short. SVG's are different from other graphics: They look great at any resolution, from tiny to huge. They can also be animated, and can themselves contain links and functions. Examples of animated SVG's on this site include the animated "Wings" logo on the home page, the Responsive Demo, and the large gear on the Blueprint Page.

Structured Data

In the past, developers embedded "Meta Keywords" as part of their website content, so that search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing would use these keywords to list their sites in search results. These keywords were, and are still, of limited use, but the search engine has always treated them as meaningless symbols to be compared using simple pattern matching.
The search engine robots that crawl the internet, find and index websites, and create search results, have no idea about what these Meta Keywords actually mean (after all they are robots that spend all their time surfing the internet - they don't have a lot of experience in real-world human matters.)

To use old-style Meta keywords, 160 characters worth of words (that's the per-page limit) are scraped together into a long unformatted list, fed to Google, fingers are crossed, and hopes are made that your Meta Keywords will line up with customer Google search phrases.

These days there is a better method, known as Structured Data.

With Structured Data, ALL of the content in your site can be indexed - and understood - by search engines.

Using the types defined by Schema.org, a collaboration between Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo, all the information in your site is marked such that the search engines can index the entire site, and know what type of information it is indexing about your site. The search engine will read your site and not only gather your content, but understand it - all of it, and respond to customer searches more intelligently. Every single data item on your site can become Structured Data, your company name and logo, hours, location, staff, products, services, pictures, events, items, and far more.

Structured Data not only allows far more search flexibility than old-fashioned Meta Keywords, but it enables search engines to intelligently respond to Natural Language Searches like "show me the locations of all the hardware stores in Springfield that are open after 9PM."

But the Structured Data goodness doesn't end there! It gets even better.
The search engine will use its understanding of your website to create "Rich Snippets," pieces of information that you provided through Structured Data that the search engine knows are relevant, and actually present them right there on the search page in a special prominent format! People searching for your competition could see more of YOUR message - before they even click on anything.

Content Management Systems

Manually organizing the pages of HTML code, images, menus, and links that comprise the nuts-and-bolts of a website is a difficult, tedious, and error-prone activity, and we don't recommend it

Modern websites avoid this chore through the use of Content Management Systems, or "CMS's" for short, which are programs that automate these tasks.

Not only do Content Management Systems automate these basic chores, they provide many other benefits that streamline the web development process, they provide for a more secure environment, while providing secure user logins with various levels of privileges. They organize web pages, images, articles, menus, and other website component elements.

Every Content Management System provides an Administrator page, a friendly, easy web interface that allows for changing or adding website content or site component elements (photos, menus, etc). You can login to this Adminisrator page from your office or home from any desktop or laptop computer, at any time.

All types Content Management Systems can have their set of features expanded through a vast array of third party Extensions or Plugins.

Generally we use two Content Management Systems at Artisan Site Designs:

Joomla, and
Wordpress

Joomla is the most popular and widely adopted general-purpose Content Management System.
Joomla is very flexible, can be configured to suit a very wide array of needs, is easy to use, and has a very large number of extensions available.

WordPress is the most popular blog/publication-centric Content Management System.
WordPress is designed around publishing an ongoing series of articles, periodicals, or blogs.

A website can even be implemented to take advantages of both, usually through operating a WordPress instance in a subdirectory of the Joomla instance.

Aside from being the de-facto standards for Content Management Systems, you have all the advantages of using Free Open Source Software, as there are literally hundreds of developers and businesses worldwide that also use these software standards, so you will be able to choose any one of them for future support. You are not locked in to any software vendor, provider, or developer.
Did we also mention that the "Free" in Free Open Source Software means "free" as in "It doesn't cost anything." There is no charge for the software, no licenses to renew.

We are about Empowering you with your new website, and implementing Content Management Systems is a big part of what makes that possible.

The Technologies We Use

We believe that implementing a carefully-chosen array of off-the-shelf open-source components benefits everyone, the most important reasons being that these technologies are well-known, well-supported, and freely available.
The fact that these technologies are well-known and common means that when you decide to use them you are not locking yourself into any one technician, provider, or vendor. There are literally hundreds of other companies and individuals who are fluent in these technologies - you will always be able to get help. For example, the official Joomla repository reports over 50 million downloads and Joomla is the world's most popular full-featured Content Management System (CMS).
Not only are they freely available, they are FREE, as in they don't cost anything.
All of your development is done on your own independent LAMP (Linux Apache MySQL PHP) server on our private development lab network, and we provide you with the copy of this virtual machine on digital media for your use in the future.
Joomla Content Management System and its vast array of Extensions such as Contact forms, inset Google Maps, Image and Content Sliders, Galleries.
WordPress Content Management System, and its powerful Blogging capabilities.
The Bootstrap 3 Framework plus jQuery are used for Responsive/ Adaptive excellence.