WEB Site Design Tips
If you have a portal or destination site such as a government page, or something like MSN, Earthlink etc.or if you don't have any competition in your line of business, you can skip this page.
You MUST have a WEB site.... A new study done in the UK by one of the largest WEB site hosting companies in the world indicated that 54% of the people polled said they won't deal with a company that doesn't have a WEB site See this reference.
FLASH! Google is NOT the only search engine in the world. Yahoo, MSN, Alltheweb Altavista and others, (many others), count, more than you might imagine. I pointed a friend to a WEB site that claimed there are more than 70,000 search engines, (SEs). I suspect that figure is low. While I admit that some of those are specialty search engines, that's still a huge number. Most WEB site designers ignore the requirements of search engines when they design a site and most even have exclusions in their contracts from any responsibility for search engine popularity. See our SEO page for more information.
If you feel your main, if not your only, search engine target is Google, even with good underlying design code and search engine optimization, you're going to have a long - long wait.
If you want to be seen on the Internet and you want your WEB site to generate interest and business there are a few simple guidelines to follow.
Keep it simple. A site with lots of text on the home page will be indexed better by the SEs — they are looking for substance, not flash. Most SEs can't read or understand Macromedia Flash, image maps or many other items on many pages. They can't make sense of your java or other code either. Content is King. There are a few people who can't stand Macromedia Flash and have it blocked by default, should those people happen to find your site and you have a Flash opening page, you lost them at the first mouse click.
Keep it lean and mean. Small graphics and small pages are important. This site consists of over 36 items including pages, code, graphics and more but the entire site is less than .75 MB. Yes, MB not GB. There are still a significant number of people on slow connections. If they can't get your page to come to attention they WILL go elsewhere.
Make certain there are no broken links on your pages. One broken link can force someone to leave your site in frustration.
Use your site name for your E-Mail. There is an unprofessional appearance having a site called www.yourdomain.com and having an E-Mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. If there is some valid reason for not having an address email@example.com, fix it. If SPAM is a concern find another hosting company that will control the SPAM or have your site forward your mail to an address that has SPAM control, but for Pete's sake use your company name for the return address.
If you are concerned that using your E-Mail address on your site will generate SPAM check this link. We also have additional information about this elsewhere on this site. Our E-Mail address is coded on our contact page.
Create a page for each subject and make certain the page title reflects each page uniquely.
Have a document statement (referred to as a "Doctype Declaration") at the top of every page. See this page, (W3C.ORG) for more on Doctype. Many sites are missing this statement and if you read the information at W3C and many search engine submission sites you will find that it is only one of several very important items to miss. While Google pays little attention to it many other search engines do.
Make certain you have meta tags at the top of each page that refer to that page or to the site. See meta data on this W3C page. That page has plenty of other very useful information. I've actually seen HTML (Hypertext Markup Language, the language of the Internet) E-Mail that was better formatted than many WEB pages. Meta tags are bits of information about your site that the visitors to your site don't see on the page but the search engines do. Meta Tags are the way you tell some search engines what the site is about in a short format.
Some sites use "contact forms" instead of an E-Mail contact address. There are frequently good reasons for the contact form but if an E-Mail address is all you need, (some people won't fill out a form), you can encode the E-Mail address so that it can't be farmed by the spammers. Go to out contact page and view the source code. You will not see an E-Mail address in the code even though it appears on the page. The E-Mail address is actually that VERY long line of what looks like nonsense, but it works just fine. Search engines see the code, not the text. There are plenty of mail encoding programs out there. I have several available to me that are, (free), extensions to Macromedia Dreamweaver.
Be very careful about playing any kind of music, unless you are a music site. It aggravates some surfers and will cause them to leave. If you absolutely must have music on the site provide a very visible and obvious way to turn it off. The music typically doesn't add anything of substance to the site anyway.
Try not to have the top of your page, (the area that the visitors to your site don't see) filled with java code, cascading style sheet information, (CSS), and other "stuff". The SEs must wade through all that code before they see the King, (the text content). You can use include statements as I have done to have all this extraneous code in an external file. I'll let you find this solution on your own but feel free to follow my lead. You can modify the, (include statement), code I use by looking at the source of any page on this site. If you go to the PC MAX home page and view the page source you see what the search engines see, what you won't see is this which is an Adobe PDF file of ALL the Java code for that page but it's hidden from the viewer, and from the search engines. This is an Adobe PDF file of the Java script for http://www.adobe.com. You will find many sites that have some or all of this code scattered within the page's HTML code. (Note that the Adobe site will be seen no matter how the site is designed. Most sites don't have that luxury). Remember that what you see in your browser isn't even close to what the search engines see.
Make the maximum size for the images on your site no more than 10k and even that should be rare. I manage one site that has one 48k image and no other image larger than 12k. There are actually still users with slow connections. A slow loading home page will be abandoned before it even loads.
Many sites have statements such as "this site best viewed with ......." or at so and so resolution. What are they trying to tell you? Maybe if you aren't doing it their way they don't care about you. Maybe they just designed it for a narrow audience. On this site it can be best, (properly), viewed at whatever resolution and using whatever browser you happen to be using so long as it is Java enabled. which is 99.8% of systems) no matter what the operating system or browser. In other words YOU can see it without doing it our way.
There is a very strong case for using cascading style sheets, (CSS), code for your site. It make future site management when things change much easier. If I wanted to change the font or link properties on all 38 WEB pages on this site it would take a 5 second change in one file to affect the entire site. This is not the same as template file but has the same result, it's just much easier.
This is a site created entirely using CSS so you can see what the possibilities are. For those who know what these terms are, there are no frames or tables on that site. Even Microsoft is coming out with a new STANDARDS COMPLIENT WEB design tool to replace Front Page that centers around CSS.
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