Blue Link Webs produces small and medium Web sites for business. We're experts at database-driven Web sites using LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) and AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML).

The Blue Link Webs Philosophy

It might seem strange to think of so small an organization having a philosophy, but we all have principles by which we live and work. Our philosophy is important to you because knowing about it will help you decide whether you want to work with us. We have a few core beliefs that guide our work:

  • The Web is primarily a written medium
  • It's the client's site
  • Good planning makes good sites
  • Adherence to standards makes good sites
  • Powerful tools make good sites
  • Words belong in HTML documents
  • Data belong in databases
  • The details are important
  • Remember The Principle of Least Astonishment

The Web is primarily a written medium. Most of the ideas conveyed by most Web pages are conveyed with words. So, things that flash, twirl, make noise, or otherwise distract from reading diminish the utility of a Web page. Pictures and other graphics can be used to illustrate and sometimes to decorate, but they should support the central idea of a page, not distract from it. Some ideas can best be illustrated with animation, video, or sounds. Motion and sound should support the central idea, and be under the control of the reader of a page. Deliberately obscuring what the reader is trying to read is rude no matter why it is done.

It's the client's site. There are two layers of meaning in this statement. First, we'll give the best advice we can, but in the end, design decisions belong to the client. Beyond that, we believe it is unethical to try to hold a client hostage through controlling relationships with domain name registrars or hosting organizations, or controlling access to site updates. We won't get in the middle of third-party relationships like domain name registration. One of the tools we recommend allows clients to make many kinds of changes without our help.

Good planning makes good sites. We believe that time spent planning up front is more than repaid in the removal of rework near the end of a project. If you check our project methodology, http://www.bluelinkwebs.com/projects.html, you will find that, of the ten steps in a project, five are planning steps. Planning will save you money and leave you better satisfied with the final result. We'll apply our experience to help you plan effectively.

Adherence to standards makes good sites. Standards on the World Wide Web are set by the World Wide Web Consortium and in a few cases by other organizations like the Internet Engineering Task Force. Adherence to standards means avoiding the proprietary extensions some software makers use to try to differentiate their product. Web documents that adhere to the appropriate standards will work in any modern browser and look about the same regardless of the client platform. They'll also be accessible to the disabled who use assistive software to navigate the Web. Using proprietary extensions can shut out five to twenty percent of potential readers.

Powerful tools make good sites. An expert developer can create better HTML than any tool we've seen. However, when more than half the effort of creating a Web page goes into layout and formatting that's identical across dozens of pages, it doesn't make sense to reinvent the same wheel dozens of times. We create HTML templates by hand, then use software to apply the templates to many pages. Similarly, we've developed libraries of JavaScript and PHP routines that can be reused from client to client. Web sites built this way are finished sooner, cost less, and are more robust than those made entirely by hand. As an example, adding another page to this site, including changing the navigation on all the existing pages, would take about twelve minutes, exclusive of content development.

Words belong in HTML documents. HTML is the native language of the World Wide Web, and the only language you can be sure is readable from any browser on any computer. With a very few exceptions, content that originates in some other form, such as a word processing document, should be converted to HTML before posting on the Web. If you create many multi-purpose documents, we can help you use XML for documents that are to be displayed in different media.

Data belong in databases. Sometimes it is necessary to store data between page views. This can be for a shopping cart, or just to remember who's logged in. Sometimes the contents of pages themselves need to change, as when inventory is added or sells out. Use of a database management system may seem like an unnecessary complication, but it is the most robust, and in the end the most cost-effective way to store information that can't be represented with a static Web page.

The details are important. Check our own Web pages... we've paid attention to the details. You might find a problem with one of these pages, but if you tell us about it, we'll fix it fast! We treat client's Web pages the same way. While some people may think that little flaws don't matter, they actually send a very clear negative message to readers of flawed pages.

Remember the Principle of Least Astonishment. In any decision about an information technology product, the designer should make the choice that will least astonish those who use the product.