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Web design is the branch of design devoted to planning, developing and maintaining Internet sites. Through graphic tools, special software and practically applying theoretical knowledge and imagination, the Web designer creates a design object admitting functions and graphically representing a company. The Web design work object is the Internet site. However, this activity alone does not conclude the process of creating a site: the Web designer is restricted to the graphical aspect of the page, while the programmer gives it functionality. The topic of this section will be thoroughly introducing this branch of design from the features and functions of its work object. We will begin by the features defining a Web site and thoroughly explaining why it is needed. Then, we will move on to the introduction of the three main functions of a site and how to get the most of them.

Presence on the market: Internet is the medium most used when searching for products, companies and services. having a place on the Web is, thus, essential and vital. An appropriate Web site design will result in a significant progress for your company as regards image and advertising. We cannot deny that both factors directly influence how your company is placed on the market where it works. Working on the Web to make a site be aesthetically pleasant and well-placed is directly influencing on the market and the target group you wish to conquer. This item about presence on the market is the simplest one of all the ones dealt with there: having a good place on the most consulted medium influences directly and positively the market you are working on.

Virtual office:

in the past, each community used to have a company or factory working on the area. This company was known by all the community members through its building. This building used to be the city key commercial center, as were churches in the Middle Ages; business activity was around the company, all in one place. As time went by, given the advancement of industrialization and globalization, this corporate identification through the building where a firm operates disappeared. This material item represented the company for years, it allowed the public to have a material item to grab to think about the company and it is a great introduction for the company. However, not everything is lost: much to the contrary. Nowadays, companies are not known by the building they use, or the workers going there every day, etc.; companies are an abstraction, a body only existing when thought by consumers. However, consumers will not be able to think about anything if they do not have an actual reference point to grab (as the building used to be). Web sites came to fill that gap: a company's page will be its thought material support: the necessary condition for the public to think about the company and give it existence, earnings and market. Your company's Web site will be the virtual building or virtual office replacing the previous building, made of cement and brick.

But this is not all: for small and middle-size businessmen, this change in consumers' reference points brings about excellent news. For a long time, buildings represented companies, that is to say, they were more expensive: no small company could compete with a big corporation building. Now, when we talk about Web sites, the small or middle-size businessman could invest not too much money on its corporate site and make it as good as the one belonging to the most famous company worldwide. Chances are endless and you have a tool at hand to exponentially and extraordinarily promote your company's image.

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Interaction:

a Web site has a feature not shared by any other design: interaction with recipient. Any design conveys a message from the company to the recipient and this is the path it covers. The recipient is passive when information is transmitted. However, that is not the case for Web design. For instance, when you get a flyer on the street, you cannot choose how to get related with it: you read it and that is it. But a Web page gives you the chance to be related with different parts of the site without needing to go over it all. You can only go to the section you are interested in or you can go over the entire page. In one way or the other, the site user adjusts its information to make it become what he wants it to be, it changes the original site idea to convert it into what he needs. This could be called user-site interactivity.

However, that is not the only interaction made through a Web page: there is what we call user-company interaction. In this case, the user does not relate with an inanimate object taking part in it but he gets in contact with a company. Through the contact options offered by the site, the user could bring doubts, comments, grievances, questions, preferences, concerns, etc. to the company. In turn, the site manager could reply to the customer, thus establishing an interactive relationship. The customer will be able to reply to the company and so on.

This relationship created from the Web site is highly important for the firm. Not only because it makes customers feel good and makes the company become familiar and accessible for them, but also because from that communication channel, the company collects highly important data related to the customers' preferences. These data could be used on a later marketing campaign to improve the company's sales and advertising.


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