Simple is not always easy

under the hood
Dave Wright - Web ManagerWritten by: Dave WrightWeb Manager

"I just want a super simple website - that should be easy to make, right?"

There's a lot more that goes in to making a website than most people realize. Everybody is familiar with using websites, and the best websites make it easy for you to do whatever it is you want to do. Imagine a restaurant website that shows you the location, hours, menu, and phone. Maybe it even makes it easy for you to make a reservation online. Simple, right?

Or, even better - Google's homepage. You want to search for something on the internet? Just type what you are looking for in the box, click the button, and it just works. Simple. You might have already guessed my point: the behind-the-scenes part that you don't see is about as complex as it gets.

We're guessing that you probably aren't looking to build a new Google competitor, but you just might be looking for a website for your new restaurant. Maybe you've even tried to do it yourself, but you got frustrated and gave up. Why does it have to be so difficult? Just like a car, it would be quite a challenge to build your own from scratch even though the interface is so simple: just turn the key, put it in drive, and hit the gas.

Even if you're not ready to build a full-featured website for your restaurant, you may want to put up a simple splash page with your logo and a short message saying that you'll be opening the doors next year. To make it easy for a future customer to contact you, there would be a form on the page, with a few boxes to enter contact information: name, email, and a message. Maybe an option to join your mailing list to get updates could also be included. Just a one-page website - simple, right?

not so fast, speed racer

Let’s take a moment and look under the hood. What happens when someone clicks the "Send Message" button? There should be some indication that the message was sent, so we'll need to redirect the visitor to a success page. What should that page look like? Then we have to generate an email to you, so you actually receive the message. Since the web server will be sending that message out, the best option to handle that is a content management system (CMS). So now a CMS must be installed. What if the message doesn't show up in your inbox? If the administration area was set up properly, you could see a list of all the form submissions to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.   And what about an autoresponder — do you want to send a “Thanks for contacting us!” email?

Signing up for a mailing list should be simple, but there's some setup involved there as well. Mailing list services require a “double opt-in.” Without a double opt-in process, a stranger could put your email in a mailing list signup box, and you would start getting the messages even though you never signed up. So, instead, we have to go through a process where a customer enters an email address, then receives an email that says, "Did you really sign up for this?" After clicking “yes” to confirm, the user is taken to a page where a captcha is completed to confirm that the user is a real person. Next step is to be directed to a success page, and perhaps finishing with receiving a "Thanks for joining the list" email.

There are a lot of complicated parts of a website, and sometimes it takes a lot of work to simplify the experience for the person who is visiting the website - but it's worth doing. At Avenue 25, we do our best to work with you to understand your goals, and come up with the simplest solution possible to achieve them. Taking the time to work with professional website designers and developers ensures that your “simple site” will be truly be easy to navigate for your visitors. If you'd like to start a conversation with us to see how we can streamline your website, the best place to start is our quote form.