Once we decide the purpose of our site it is necessary to choose the structural and style features. Choose these features based on the type of information you are presenting and how you will present it. These style and structure features are like a house's foundation. Do not regard these features as finishing touches that are easy to change at the end of the project.
Content Management vs. HTML
At the beginning it is important to understand that a website is not just like any other website. An HTML website is good for certain types of purposes while a CMS or Content Management System is the best thing for companies which have greater needs. If you are offering a service or a few products an HTML website may serve perfectly well. For sites which store information such as university sites, a standard HTML site is not the best choice. A database driven system is more efficient in storing that sort of information. If you will be selling a great number of products or need a section for salesmen to log in and enter sales data, then you will need a CMS or database driven website. I have found that the Drupal CMS is very efficient, powerful and adaptive. The CMS can store data on inventory, sales statistics, customer's comments etc. You may easily structure a CMS in such a way to process a large volume of diverse information so that different groups of people have access to it under different situations. It is important to make these decisions early in the process to make certain that we get off on a proper footing.
Flash vs. No Flash
Some people prefer the use of Flash on their site as it aids a very eye pleasing tone and a liberal use of animation. Flash is an animation technology developed, originally by Macromedia Corporation. Designers use Flash in videos, games and menu systems in web design. However, sites made entirely of flash are at a definite disadvantage in terms of Search Engine placement. A search engine crawler cannot read the content displayed in a Flash display since Flash is merely seen as an object and not as text.
Using Flash in a limited way may enhance your website. Smaller Flash scenes serve to add attractive animation to smaller areas of the site or a side bar. Thus Flash done in this way will not obscure the text for the search engine crawler of spider. The excessive use of smaller flash movies is not a good thing on any site. The use of movement on a page is harmful if it is overdone. It is possible to program a flash header or small flash movie so that it only repeats a several times and then stops. Give careful thought to the use of Flash before launching into the site development.
Fixed Width, Fluid Width or Flexible Width
Ask your web designer about the differences in a Fixed Width vs. a Fluid Width site. Each designer has his/her preferences, on this feature, as I have mine. A fluid width site design has its width set up in percentages rather than pixel sizes. It may take up a bit more or even the entire browser screen, depending on the screen resolution. The fluid width site can expand to unreasonably wide sizes if viewed on a really large monitor or on a TV screen. On a really small screen (800 x 600 in this day) the contents of a fluid width site can seem too compressed with little or no white space. Fixed size items such as pictures and video players may slip down to the next line and look unsightly. This design style takes a lot more work to complete than the fixed width site. The fixed width site will always be the same size in pixels. In the fixed width, everything including pictures, video players will always stay put and will always look nice. In my opinion, the fixed width site is the best all-around site design.
You must make these foundational choices and stand by them once the design work begins. To ask for changes after that will result in added fees.