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Zach's Notebook
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10 things to remember when creating your web site

This is a list of what I believe to be some of the most important factors to remember when creating a website. Hopefully you will keep these in mind when creating your site.

  1. Frames, don't use them. I used to see a lot of sites out there using frames, now you don't see as many. There are several reasons why I say don't use frames. First of all, believe it or not, just because you have the newest version of Netscape or IE, doesn't mean that all of your visitors do too. Some of the older versions of browsers, do not support frames, and if this is the only way for visitors to get around on your site, then they're sunk! Secondly, users can't bookmark specific pages on your site. Lastly, they are just plain annoying!
  2. Proof read and check all of your pages for bad grammar and spelling before publishing your pages to the net. Especially if its a business page. For one thing it makes you look like an idiot and another thing its very unprofessional. I admit that I am a perfect example of this, I can't spell worth a flip, so I constantly make errors.
  3. Maintain a regular pattern from page to page. For example, on Zach's Archive, almost every page is the same except for the content. This reminds visitors that they are still at your site. Some times when I am at poorly designed sites, I click on a link to another page of their site, and I think I'm at a totaly different page, it just does'nt look good.
  4. Have an easy way for your visitors to find what they need, fast. Design a good form of navigation that you can place on every page. I like to use the left border navigation on my sites. Also, don't overwhelm the user with options when they arrive at your page, have everything in categories. Some people will go to a site and right when they see all of these links they quickly hit the back button, lowering your sites traffic. Having your pages in categories will also increase the popularity of all of the pages on your site.
  5. In order to improve your site, you must know what users like and dislike about your site. Set up monthly polls on your site asking your users what they like and dislike about your site and then use that information to make your site better. Also make sure that there is an easy way for your visitors to be able to contact you and give you their suggestions. Feedback from your users is one of the most helpful things you can use to improve your site. I also suggest that you set up a tracker on your site. This can help you determine how popular your web site is, when the most people come to your site, user screen resolution and color settings and many more helpful bits of information. I recommend using Extreme Tracking, which is a great free tracking service that gives you all sorts of helpful info on your site.
  6. Load time is an important determining factor of how long people stay at your site. Have you ever been to a site where there are so many large graphics on the main page that you are waiting 3 minutes just for the page to load. Like me, most people get tired of waiting for a site to load after the first minute. Try to keep your load time under 30 seconds. If you have a slow loading page there are several ways to speed it up such as limiting the amount of images on each page, using a free service such as GifWorks to reduce the colors in your images, and avoid using big Java applets and scripts.
  7. Use tables! Tables are a wonderful part of HTML. They load fast, they look nice, and they help organize your site. Tables are used on every page of Zach's Archive believe it or not. Instead of using big slow images for headers just use tables. I can't say a lot more on this topic other than they are very helpful. So use them!
  8. Promotion, perhaps the most important issue in designing your site. No matter how good your web site is, it's worthless unless you promote it. Try to get your site listed in all of the major search engines. More importantly get your site listed on big sites such as the ones that list free resources. Tell people about your web site, tell friends to tell people about your web site, get other webmasters to trade links with you. All of these things can greatly increase the amount of traffic your web site receives.
  9. Make sure your web site is always "fresh". Add new content regularly, try to update your site at least twice a week if not more. Make sure that your content is something that will make your visitors keep coming back to your site, again and again. For example you could have a monthly contest or start a weekly newsletter.
  10. Stay on the topic of your web site. For example, if your web site is about Sci-fi, don't have trivia pages about cheese. Instead have pages about sci-fi movie reviews or pictures of characters and scenes from Sci-fi movies. I think you see my point.

"10 things to remember when creating your web site" (c)1999 Zachary Jorgensen Reproduction of this document in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission from Zachary Jorgensen is strictly prohibited. If you would like to use this on your site just ask me first.