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Web Design Tips Tricks

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Website Design Tips ...

Based on experience gained over many years I have compiled the following list of Website Design Tips. The list is not exhaustive and perhaps never will be but I will be adding to the list on a regular basis. If you consider that there is any web design subject that would merit a 'tip' in this section and I have not included it, then please contact us and I will either include the subject here or reply to you personally.

The latest W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) standards mean that there are dramatic changes coming to the world of web design, in both the medium and long term. Most sites that I have visited that talk about web design, do not appear to have an understanding of the implications of these changes and as an example, few people realize the number of currently used HTML Tags and Attributes that are becoming or will become depreciated in the future. Also, few seem to understand the future implications of their web pages not meeting W3C validation standards or accessibility guidelines and if you would like to learn more about this subject then you might do well to start by visiting our Validation and Accessibility Testing page where you will have the opportunity to test your own Web pages.

What I are really trying to say is that any advice I give is not only based on previous experience but also on my understanding of the direction in which the world of web design is heading and that applies not only to these Website Design Tips but also to information and advice provided throughout the Web-Wise-Wizard site. If you fail to plan your site correctly then this can lead to serious problems when you come to promote your site at a later stage.

Domain Name

When planning a website it is important to remember that a proper Domain name is essential for a serious Website. These days, sub-domains and free hosting Domain names are just not taken seriously and many of the search engines will not even index pages on them, let alone give their pages a good ranking. You can register a Domain name for as little as $8.00 US per year but you should think carefully about the name as this can be crucially important to the success of your site. For example, if your site is about web design then consider 'keyword friendly' names like 'best-web-design.com', using dashes (not underscores) to separate the keywords that make up the name. This will give your site a flying start with the search engines because it will enable them to focus on the relevance of the content of the site from the outset. A secondary advantage of having your own Domain name is that both your Website and Email addresses become transportable. This means that you can change your ISP or your Web Hosting provider as often as you like with little disruption to your Website or email accounts.

Domain Extensions

More correctly called 'top-level domains' they fall into two main categories, international top-level domains (COM, NET, ORG, etc.) and country specific top-level domains (US, UK. AU, CA, DK, etc.). The criteria for selecting a top level domain is simple and straightforward. If you want to target your site content to users Worldwide then you should choose an international top-level domain (e.g. '.COM') and if you want to target your site content to users in a specific locality or country then you should use a country specific top-level domain (e.g. '.CO.UK'). Do not make the mistake of thinking that you are obliged to choose a country specific top-level domain simply because you happen to live in that country.

For example, if your site is about web design then it is likely to be of interest to users all around the World and this means that you should choose an international top-level domain. At the opposite end of the spectrum, if for example you are a local window cleaning company then it is just not useful for your site to appear in search-engine listings thousands of miles away in other countries and this means that you should choose a country specific top-level domain. Choosing a country specific top-level domain name will give your site higher search engine positioning to searchers in that country and is likely to mean that you get preferential listing in local and area directories, etc. These factors can be very useful for a locality based business.

Failure to select the correct type of top-lever domain can result in great problems when it comes to promoting a web site or the product it sells.

 

Canonical Issues

If you own your own Domain Name (e.g. web-wise-wizard.com) then most DNS (Domain Name Service) servers are set up to allow users to address the Domain in two different ways:

  1. http://www.web-wise-wizard.com/

If you allow both methods of addressing your site come into common usage then you could be creating real problems for the future and these could damage your site. One example of such damage is that from the point of view of PageRank™, Google will treat these two methods of addressing your site as two different entities. This in turn means that if each method of addressing a page has ten links pointing to it then each version of the page will have a PageRank™ based on ten inward links rather than the twenty inward links the page deserves.

This type of problem can cause even worse problems if search engines like Google start treating the two entities as duplicate content and penalize your site accordingly. In extreme cases you have to take special steps to resolve one entity into the other and one method you can use to accomplish this is to use HTACCESS files. You can learn more about this method by viewing the following page.

 

Textual Content

When planning and building a website it is essential that you remember that textual content is King!  In their own way, both human users and search engines read and understand textual content on web pages better than you think so make sure that all your pages are rich in well written, textual content that is pertinent to the subject you are writing about on that page. Make sure your pages are spell-checked and re-read them several times to check for grammatical errors. Try to make your descriptions as simple as possible and make sure the page tells a story that is logical, complete and will make sense to anyone reading it.

Focus Keywords

Make sure that each of your pages concentrate on one subject only. Select the keywords you want to attract search engines referrals for and concentrate on writing around that subject. For example, if you want a particular page to attract hits from search engine users who type in the search term 'barber shop' then make sure that the page discusses 'barber shop' and does not also cover 'classical', 'punk' or what is on offer at the local supermarket this week. If you want to write about these other subjects then create a new page for each subject and provide descriptive links to each of the pages. Always remember that it is Web pages that attract search engine traffic, not Websites.

Selecting appropriale keywords is central to the success of a web page. Promote the right keywords and traffic will be driven to the page. Failing to understand the importance of using keywords or promoting inappropriate keywords will mean that your page will attract little traffic.

Focus on using two or three primary keywords on each page. Use these keywords in the page TITLE Tag, the META Description Tag, the META Keywords Tag, the H1 Header Tag at the beginning of the BODY section, in the first two or three paragraphs of the textual content of the page, in the Title Attribute of outbound links on your page and in the Alt Attribute of your page images.

Also, provide two to four outbound links to external pages that have a similar content to your page. Finally, when posting links to to the page from other Websites you should try and ensure that the link description and Title attribute reflect your chosen keywords.

 
+++ Profound Thinking +++
Man is a slow, sloppy and a brilliant thinker; the computer is fast, accurate and stupid. ~ William M. Kelly
 

Splash Pages

I personally consider splash pages to be a total waste of time. A few years ago I created a Website that had a splash page as the Home Page. It contained a small amount of supporting textual content and links that led to about ten content pages. Even with a carefully crafted TITLE Tag, META Description Tag, Keyword Tag and IMG Alt attributes, the page did not receive a good ranking in any of the search engine indices but many of the other pages which were rich in textual content, started receiving hits from search engines. The end result of this was that the site was a success in spite of the splash page and the site logs showed that very few users ever visited the Home Page. Instead, they entered and exited the site via the content pages and my conclusions from this experience was that splash pages should be considered as 'vanity pages' that detract from the overall ambience of a site. The Home Page (Home) should be 'first among equals'.

Flash Animation

Some would argue that Flash animations are appealing to users and I am sure that they are at least, partially correct. However, they are also a good way to alienate a large section of your potential user base. The first group that will be alienated are those who do not have the correct plug-in installed and have to wait for several minutes when they try to load the page. Although the page will eventually offer to download the required plug-in most of this first group are likely to use their browser's Back Button to return to the previous site. The second group that will be alienated are those (mainly the over 30's) who simply do not like this type of animation and again, these users are likely to use the Back Button to return to their previous page. I also understand that many Websites are banning Flash advertisements out of hand, presumably for the reasons outlined here. If you do include Flash animation on your web pages then at least make sure that you learn how to use scripting to detect whether the users browser supports Flash. If it does not then use scripting to switch to a non-Flash alternative page.

Graphics Optimization

One of the most important aspects of a web page is the time it takes to download the page and the page graphics. You often see pages load and then have to wait for quite a while for the images to download and be displayed. This reason for this is usually because the images are far larger than need to be for displaying on a web page. I am not talking about the dimensions of the image although this is also important, but the size of the image file. You often see pages that contain images that are up to 10/15 times larger than they need to be and download times for overlarge images are likely to be a real turn-off for most users. All your web images need to be optimized and in particular, photographs need to be optimized to below 15KB. If you are including images on your web pages then make sure that you learn about image optimization.

English Language

There are an increasing number of Websites written in the English language by authors, many of whom it is obvious that English is not their first language. This can produce humorous grammatical errors or cause the author to mislead users or fail to make users understand the point the author is trying to make. If you are writing web pages in the English language and English is not your first language then I would recommend that you get someone who is proficient at reading English to check your pages before you publish them.

upon reflection ...

Having written and reflected upon the statement above, I think that I would also recommend that native English speakers should also ask someone who is proficient at reading English, to check their pages before they are published. On the wider scale, that should really start to improve the quality of the World Wide Web.

JavaScript Version

Most web pages benefit from some JavaScript scripting, even if only to preload page images. Other pages that include a considerable amount of interaction might require a larger amount of JavaScript scripting. As with the rest of your web page authoring you should aim to make your pages work in a range of browsers and browser versions and current opinion states that your pages should 'work' in v4 or v5 browsers onwards. You should note that at the time of writing, the latest version of Internet Explorer (v6) supports JavaScript 1.3, the latest version of Mozilla (v1.7.7) supports JavaScript 1.5, the latest version of Netscape (v7) supports JavaScript 1.5 and the latest version of Opera (v8) supports the entire ECMA-262 2ed and 3ed standard, with no exceptions (JavaScript 1.3/1.5 core).

My solution to meeting all these requirements is to write my own JavaScript scripts to comply with JavaScript 1.2. In spite of their being later versions, JavaScript 1.2 is stable and does everything I want it to, and my scripts work in all browsers from v4 onwards. I have no scripting problems at all and my pages never throw scripting errors for reasons of version incompatibility. If anyone is interested I can provide them with a copy of the Netscape JavaScript 1.2 Reference Manual which I use as a 'JavaScript bible' when I am writing JavaScript scripts.

To further reinforce this viewpoint it is worth noting that the HTML SCRIPT Language Attribute is now depreciated (e.g. language="JavaScript1.3") and this means that a web author has no way of telling a browser which JavaScript version their scripts are written to. This makes it even more important to make sure that your scripts work in the widest possible range of browsers.

Use URL Rewriting

If you are creating your site pages using one of the systems that creates web pages dynamically then your site could be at a disadvantage in comparison to a site that has properly named, static HTML web pages (or appears to have properly named, static HTML web pages). It is true that Google and some other search engines now index dynamic pages but in my experience they never rank as well as their static HTML equivalents. The reasons vary with different dynamic systems but the disadvantages include the use of search strings (question marks) in the URL, the dynamic creation of different URL's for the same page, non-descriptive URLs, no clear link path or link structure for search engines to follow, etc. It is generally understood that search engines do not trust dynamic web pages as much as they trust static web pages.

Example URL for a dynamically created page ...

http://www.spoof-site.com/free.php?in=us&asin=0764548417

Example URL for a static HTML page ...

http://www.spoof-site.com/internet-help/http-codes.html

One way of dealing with this problem is to use URL Redirection to redirect static URLs to the dynamic URLs required by the dynamic system and this can be achieved using HTACCESS files. One caveat though is that you can only use HTACCESS files on Apache or other HTTPd compliant web servers.

 
 

Link Directly To This Page ...

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Many users prefer to link directly to individual content pages on Web-Wise-Wizard. If you would like to do this then we have provided the following HTML/CSS link script which you can copy and paste directly into your HTML editor. Alternatively, you might like to use our New Dynamic Link Generator to create a link that more fully meets your own particular requirements.

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Web-Wise-Wizard - Web Design Tips and Tricks This is a 'must read first' if you are planning, developing or promoting a Website. Required reading if your site is being ignored by search engines, Web directories or quality link exchange partners.

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