Some of the web tips below may not apply to every website because there are several different purposes for websites. For instance, when we suggest keeping images to a minimum, this may not apply for a photographer whose sites' purpose is to sell or show photography (there are ways to keep file sizes down and you may want to consider suggested options below). At any rate, the following are suggestions to keep in mind when considering developing a website.
Flash and other moving objects
Do not get over zealous with moving or blinking objects on your website's pages. There is nothing more distracting than text or moving cartoon people blinking on and off continually on a page. Some people are more concerned trying to impress viewers with these objects, rather than with the content a person should be reading. A flash header is fine. Use it tastefully and, if possible, keep other moving object on the page to a minimum. If the eye has too many moving objects to concentrate on, it is hard to try to read the static content. Also, realize that a large flash file along with other moving files will slow down the loading of a page. Many viewers will not wait more than a few seconds for a page to load before they move on to something else. If you do want flash, keep the file size to a minimum.
Do not over use images. Keep the file size of your pages below 60k. If your page takes a long time to load people will skip your website and move on. If you have several images, use thumbnails (smaller versions of an image) that can be clicked on to go to a larger version of the image. The thumbnails load faster and the viewer can still see the larger image by clicking on the thumbnail.
Keep your website design pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate
Try to use the same color scheme, fonts and navigation placement throughout your website.
Do break up large amounts of text by using bolded headings, bullet points, lists and images. This makes the text easier to read and follow. Condense text as much as possible while still being thorough. Say what you need to say, but say it simply and with strong keywords in your content for search ability.
Make sure to use large enough fonts for easy reading.
Use fonts that can be read on any computer
Not all computers have all the same fonts loaded. If you must use a certain font for a title that you positively want to make sure is seen exactly the same by every viewer, make it into an image. This will not be able to be seen as text by the search engines, so use an alt attribute telling what it says. (See "ALT Attributes " below.) It would not be a good idea to make all the font of web content, on a page or site, be an image as the search engines would dismiss it as an image.
You can specify a list of potential font names to be used in the order of most preferred. The browser will then attempt to use the first font in the list that matches a font installed on the user's computer.
Make sure to include a "Call to Action"
Make sure to include a "Call to Action" (Phone number, email address etc...) that is clear and easy to see, so the viewer knows how they can contact you without having to search for the information.
Avoid having too many decision makers to create the site.
It is best to have one main person in charge of making decisions and working with the website project manager. If you ask five people how they like a paragraph of text to be or how a web page layout should be, you will get five different answers. It is hard on the project manager to try to deal with all five partners and all their changes. It is best to elect one person to make the decisions if possible.
Using frames in a site
Frames - Some websites like to use a framed in area, containing an interior scroll bar to contain lots of content on one page. We do not recommend frames in most situations, for many reasons. They do not always print out, they cannot be bookmarked easily, security of the content in the framed areas is questionable, and often the extra scroll bars make the page design look "tacky". In a few cases, they are useful: (1) to display large databases of information, (2) purposely hide URLs of content pages, (3) send visitors to other sites while making it easy for them to come back.
Interaction in a site is good to keep visitors coming back and adds change in website content by adding comments or blog links. Search engines like to see content change in the website pages.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Understand search engine optimization, it is mentioned several times on this page and can be important for people to be able to find you on the web, without your web address.
"SEO" definition (from wikipedia) - "The process of improving the volume and quality of traffic to a website from search engines via search results. Usually, the earlier a site is presented in the search results, or the higher it "ranks," the more searchers will visit that site."
Playing the search engine game can involve many different strategies. I will touch on the basics below.
"Web crawler" definition (from wikipedia) -
(Also called "web spiders") "A program or automated script that browses the World Wide Web in a methodical, automated manner. Many sites use spidering as a means of providing up-to-date data.
Web crawlers are mainly used to create a copy of all the visited pages for later processing by a search engine that will index the downloaded pages to provide fast searches."
Many search engines use these spiders to crawl through documents and pages of websites. They follow links and information in the documents' content and index it as a list of words. This index is updated by recrawling the site periodically.
Some of the many ways the search engines index your website on their lists:
- Meta tags - Meta Keywords and the description of your business go in the Meta tags of your websites' code. "Web crawlers" search the meta tag for your description. The description also comes up when your site shows up in the listings. Use a strong description of approximately two sentences including keywords, in the site code. Include keywords you would type in search boxes to find your type of business or organization. Keywords have also been used in the meta keywords. The debate over whether this is
any longer is discussed below. If you do include keywords in the met keyword tag, make sure the keywords are present in the content of that page and or the description of your site. You can use different keywords and descriptions for each page of your site.
We can help you come up with keywords and descriptions. You are welcome and encouraged to come up with the majority of them yourself. You as the business owner know more about your business and what people are looking for in your business or organization.
*keyword debate - There is a debate over whether keywords in the meta tag code is actually considered by the search engines in rating your site on their lists. This is a hot topic because Google concurs that they do not use the keywords in the meta tags to help determine a websites ranking. They do consider a "good" meta description and important keywords used in the description. Keywords are most important in the content of your page. Many people were more concerned about "stuffing" keywords in their meta tags than they were about what their content text actually said. Search engines have caught on to this and some dismiss the keywords in the meta tags (not in the content area where keywords are used in information about your site) except in certain circumstances, which we will elaborate more on in the near future.
- ALT Attributes - Alternative text description for images should be included in code with images. (Internet Explorer shows the alt attributes when the mouse is held over the image) Alt attributes were developed for users of nongraphical browsers (used by people with disabilities who use assistive technology, users of handheld devises and for people with low bandwidth connections) to learn the content of your graphics. Alt attributes text are picked up by web crawlers and can help with higher indexing with the search engines. Good Alt attributes should contain phrases that are descriptive of the image. Meaning, yes, you can include keywords in your Alt attributes but make sure it does describe the meaning of the image. Do not over stuff keywords that have nothing to do with the image area.
- Content and keywords - Make sure to have rich content that contains good keywords for search engine optimization!!!! Have we stressed the importance of this enough? This can make or break your website interest from searchers. You not only need to attract your visitors to your website, you need to keep them there as long as possible and keep them interested enough to want to come back, or even to recommend your site to a
Make changes to you site periodically. It keeps viewers coming back and helps to rank you higher in search engines.
- Reciprocal linking - Reciprocal linking involves you adding your link on to someone else's site and they add theirs to yours. (Usually someone who has a site of interest to yours) Always have the link open in a separate window so when the viewer clicks back out of that link, they are back at your site. This keeps them from getting lost. If you have many links to other sites, have a separate links page. The more your site is viewed, the higher you can be on the listings of search engines. Having strong, frequently visited links on your sites attracts search engine web crawlers also. We will discuss the importance of linking to your site in the near future.