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Web Design Tips

There are a number of items that when done correctly make a website complete. Here are some of my thoughts in no particular order..

1) 'robots.txt' file. When search engine robots come to your site they first look for a file in the main directory of your domain called 'robots.txt'. This file lets the search engine robots know which agents/robots/spiders/crawlers are welcome and what files and directories are legal to index. A site on the Internet you might want to check out that explains how to do this is ..

here is the robot.txt file that I use for one site that I host .. ------------------------

    # robots.txt for

    User-agent: *
    Disallow: /images/
    Disallow: /backgrounds/
    Disallow: /java/


The second part of dealing with robots and spiders is in side each page in the header section. See Item 7 below.

2) In addition to the web pages you design, you want a default404.htm (or some name to that effect) web page that is defaulted to when there is a 404 (page not found) error on your site.

3) You will want to keep in mind that as time goes by, you will be using different types of files for your project. graphics, sounds, photos, java, etc. In terms of good all around ease of maintenance, I suggest that, when you are in the process of setting up a site, that you create the domain directory and use it to house all your webpages, then a subdirectory folder for each separate type of item you will use (images, photos, sound, java, etc). When you start getting 50+ pages, images, java, etc. all in the same directory it starts getting awkward to maintain. Be kind to your self. You will thank me if you do this from the start.

4) Keep in mind that 20% of the monitors out there in the home market are still 800x600 resolution. 60%+ are 1024x768. So when you are designing pages, you may want to design for the lowest common denominator. Change your screen resolution to different settings to see how you pages will look. Most all of the professional sites keep their width to 700 or 800.

5) There are a number of child protection filters in use out there. If someone has such a filter in use on their terminal and they hit your site and your site is not rated, then their browser will stumble on every page, 'Warning this page you have selected is not rated and etc. etc.' So I rate every one of my pages as free of anything that may offend.

    <META http-equiv="PICS-Label"
    content='(PICS-1.0 ""
    l comment "RSACi North America Server" by ""
    r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>
    <META name="rating" content="general">
Do a 'View Source' on this page and look at the header section of this page.

Now if there system has such a filter, it won't stumble when it hits any of the pages. Translates it the user having a pleasant experience.

6) If, as time goes by, you end up having some kind of registration where people or customers register at your site and you want to use cookies it is customer friendly if you give the user a choice to accept a cookie.

7) As time goes by you will want to keep in mind at the beginning of each new web page, whether you want to give the user permission to come this pages directly from the web or only from another page on your site. Consequently you will want to have some kind of include file that checks a) Can come directly from the web, b) can only come from another page on our site, or c) can come from anywhere, but must be authenticated (user name and password). As a second part of 7 here, you will also want a meta tag the will also tell the search engine robots what to do it they stumble across this particular page.

    <META NAME="robots" CONTENT="all,index">
    <META NAME="robots" CONTENT="noindex,nofollow">

This latter means, don't index it and don't follow any of the links on
the page.

8) Your work will in some part eventually undoubtedly be copyrightable. If so, yuou don't want just any one snagging your work and using on their site without compensating you. So some copyright include file in a nice save precaution from the get go.

    <!-- This file copyrighted 1999 Wendi Turner etc. etc. -->

9) Keep all banners to no more than 400 or 450 pixels wide and under 10K is size if possible. All the graphics on any one page should not be more than 80K-100K combined. There are some nice graphics programs out there that will allow you to manipulate the image size so that its quality is not deminished, but the size is. I use Paint Shop Pro by But there are others that are pretty good to. Generally I try to use jpeg files where I can. They are usually smaller than their .gif counter parts.

10) Other meta tags that I use are...

    <meta name="distribution" content="global">
    <META Name="description" Content="Happy Canyon Homeowners Association - Colorado">
    <META NAME="Keywords" CONTENT="Happy Canyon, HCHOA, Happy Canyon Homeowners Association, Castle Rock, Colorado">

11) I have a nice little site on my server for publish a website to the search engines when you are ready..

12) If you use frames in a page, you will want to be careful to use absolute positioning (width=50)and not relative positioning (width=10%). This way, no matter how wide someone one's screen is your page layout still looks the same. If you have your content left justified, then the wider a screen is the more dead space there will be to the right of the content. Another issue is you don't want to have to much dead space on the screen, it represents wasted space that could have been used for content possibly. Ideally you can detect the width of someone's screen and deliver a page with content appropriate to width.

13) You will want to start evey page with its confirmation line the very first line of a page...

    <!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//Netscape Comm. Corp.//DTD HTML//EN">

What standard the pages adhears to so that the browsers will have an easier time interpretting the page. There are a dozen or more types of these lines, I don't understand them. If you ever can look at the rules for these and explain them to me, please do so. I think one thing it does is tell the browser that the page is written in and is to be diplayed in english.

14) If you are going to be developing a site with a large number of pages where some of them may be restricted access or have special values at some point in the future, have a little section of code at the beginning of each page that tells you, the programmer, what class or category, this page fits into for future possibilities.


    <!-- General Public --> .. or ..
    <!-- Restricted Access level II -->
At some point in the future, if you want to add more code for 'Access Level II' users you can easily do a search for all relevent pages. Or if you are really thinking a head you may be able to just do a search and replace over 100 pages for all pages that have a certain search string sequence in them. It is no fun at all to have to go back through 250 pages and find the ones that are for a special purpose and then manually enter an 'insert' statement or some block of script. You will thank yourself if you can automate this as much as possible.

14) File Organization is a must. You may be creating hundreds of web pages, graphics and other type files over time. Organizing them correctly from the start is a nice way for you to be kind to yourself. My suggestion is create your main directory for the site and place all WEB Pages in that directory. Next create a separate sub directory for each category of supporting file you will use (backgrounds, images, sound, java, etc.). Next name all Web Pages for the site you will be working on. If you will developing web pages for a company called Wilderness Trips, after the home.html page name all supporting pages starting with the initials of the website (wtSchedules.html, wtSignUp.html, wtTestimonials.html, etc.). If your web pages use any inserts, name them iTitle.hti, iCopyright.hti, etc. In this way all pages are grouped in your directory listing and are very easy on the eye to find and retrieve. Finally, if your web site is connected to a database, name the related tables in the database along the same lines.. (e.g. tbl_WT_Members, tbl_WT_Payment, etc.). Over time this will make your maintenance of the web site MUCH easier.

These are some of the things that pop to mind. Hope some of these help..

A word of warning. Every web page you design is like a painting that an artist has started. But never finishes. If, over time, you have 100s or 1000s of pages that you have put your hand to, then these all can be viewed as unfinished works of art, leaving one (you) with nagging thoughts of going back and tweaking them a little here or there. This can become an all consuming tug of war if you are not strongly disciplined about ones (your) work. Do it and then leave it.

Finally, there are many very good sites out on the Internet that offer design and development tips ... Here are a few ...
Web Developer
Chami Tips
HTML Compendium
Web Monkey HTML Tricks
iDocs HTML Help
Web Developers Virtual Library
Doctor HTML
HTML Goodies
Do HTML Yourself
Beginners Guide To HTML
HTML/Graphics Help
Quick and Dirty HTML Guide
Java Computing
Barebone HTML
HTML 4.0
Netscape HTML Extensions
The official HTML specification
Millers DHTML Guide
WWW & HTML Developer's JumpStation
Matt's Script Links
Keep Essentials Up To Date
Merchant Account

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