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WEB Design Mistakes

Where to start?

I'm not saying that this site is fancy or looks great but I can tell you for certain that it will generate tons of unique visitors and that's the name of the game. Especially if I can get them to visit more than just the home page. I can track that so I know how it progresses.

Not enough meaningful text on the home page. I say home page, but what the search engines, (SEs), are really looking for is a page called home or index with either an htm or html extension. A page called default isn't going to work as well. Make certain that page has all the words in it that pertain to your business. As pointed out elsewhere on this site it's possible to have a flash opening page and still have the text needed to provide something for the SEs to index. The whole idea is to generate back-links. Those are links on any given search engine, (organic links), or other WEB, (referral links), site that has a direct link to your site or a link to a site's page that has a direct link to your site. Without back-links, (link popularity) you aren't very likely to be noticed.

Don't assume the resolution someone is using on their monitor. This site appears without scroll bars at the bottom at 640x480 - 800x600 - 1024x768 and 1280x1024 and higher. Here is a site that looks almost OK at 1024x768 Madison The City however, when it's viewed at 800x600 there is a long scroll bar at the bottom, (here is a screen shot of the entry page as it appears at 800x600 so you can see what others might see), and you can only see the page by scrolling back and forth. Make the prospective customer do much work and you lost them at the home page. It is very easy to make the page fit any browser or resolution by making the element positions relative rather than fixed. Don't use inches or other fixed attributes for the design, if you can help it, percentages are better.

Make certain the information at the top of all your pages, (this is an area that the visitor doesn't see), is correct. This includes meta tags, titles and page structure, (html type). Look at the example from the previous paragraph again, (Madison). At the top of your browser it says it's "new page 1". That's exactly what will display on the SEs. Pretty descriptive? NOT! The page you are on says "WEB Design Mistakes" certainly better. While you're on the Madison site, view the "source" for that page. See how long it takes to scroll down to meaningful text. It's mostly code. Guess what? That's exactly what the SEs see. Not only that but the header information is almost entirely missing. Look at the "source" for this page. Once you get past some page information that the SEs are looking for and a few other statements loading some items such as Google tracking you get right to the subject.

There is more code involved in this page than for the Madison page but I'm storing it in files that are external to the page. Keep it clean. Some people will say that the meta tags at the top are not required or important. Nothing on this page is, and Google doesn't pay that much attention to the keywords and many of the other tags but most of the other SEs do, particularly MSN search. There is a clear correlation to the number of times you will appear in MSN Search, (one of the top 3 SEs), and the format of the meta tags. No meta tags and you will slide down so far you could fall completely off the radar. I could provide link after link of pages that are worse than the Madison page from a search engine point of view but one thing stands out. It was originally constructed with Microsoft Word. Word leaves a lot of code that is totally unnecessary for the WEB page to display correctly. This adds to the confusion of the SEs and causes the page to load more slowly. If you think about it, there is actually a lot of junk in the source view considering what little you see on the page.

I don't mean to pick on that home page, it looks very nice, but if you want the SEs to find you and index your page and your not a well known "destination" site, that's not the way to do it.

Don't use blinking text. That's a sign of an amateur attempting to get attention but it annoys many users and isn't supported in most current browsers. The better WEB site design software doesn't even offer the "text blink" option.

Some people feel that if you build a beautiful site, they will come. Eventually some will. An important search engine rule is that you need back-links. Back-links are sites that have a link to your page. The best link is one that's in context. If your site sells furniture then a great back-link is from a site that has something to do with furniture. The most important back-link are from search engines themselves. If you get yourself listed in a few of the better SEs, other SEs will pick those links up and the ball starts rolling. This site Arion Systems has been running since December 2003. Great site but only 6 back-links from the top 5 SEs. You can't locate this site anywhere in the search engines for 2 primary reasons. First is most of what I listed earlier, (lack of meta tags etc.), but it's also difficult to tell what this company does by looking at the home page. This site Lou's Photo Journal had 20 back-links from the same 5 SEs in the first 4 weeks the site was up. (Yes, I designed it). At the time I'm writing this it's not ready to be found but only because it's so new. In another couple months it will begin to appear in many SEs.

All sites need fresh content. The more you can change or add to a site every couple months the better. In fact, a little tip is to change the page description twice a year. Some search engines will pick the same site up more than once. Make certain the descriptions are different on each page. I've seen sites that haven't changed in years. The SEs will tend to ignore some of them after a while.

If you Google (7 deadly sins WEB design), you will have more links than you could imagine. Everyone has their own idea of what is and isn't a good idea for WEB designs but here is a list boiled down from some of those pages of things you shouldn't do:

Using frames — Excessive use of long dynamic URLs — Flash Intros or Flash WEB sites — Using Image Maps for Navigation — Javascript Rollovers for Navigation — Creating Pages Using Only or Excessive Graphics — Splash Pages or "Enter Site" Pages — Lack of proper or well formatted header Information on all the pages.

That's only a few but you get the idea. The SEs simply can't make heads or tails of most of the items on that list so It's no help. Most generally accepted rules or mistakes only apply if you want to be found on the Internet. If you don't care, don't bother.

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