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Good Site Design Practices
In a newsgroup to which we subscribe, comp.infosystems.www.authoring.site-design, we came across these principles of good site design, thoughtfully compiled by Tobias C. Brown, with assistance from Alan J. Flavell, Sue Jordon, and Susan Lesch.
"1. Write for multiple Web browsers to provide easy access to the widest possible audience.
The World Wide Web is a multi-platform, non-browser specific medium. It should not matter whether people browse your web pages using Netscape Navigator 4.02, AOL Browser 3.0, Lynx 2.7, or NetPhonic's Web-On-Call.
Each browser ought to render your informational web pages without problems. If a Web page is designed properly, blind individuals using text-to-voice or Braille web browsers can easily access and review your work.
2. Condense textual content to fit the time and attention constraints of today's busy Web users. Take a look at Thoughts on Web Style,
3. Use small (byte-wise) graphics so graphics load more quickly in graphics-capable browsers.
It is not advisable to use GIFs for everything. It's of the first importance to make the right choice between JPEG and a palette-based format. Avoid blindly choosing GIF and then trying to rescue yourself from the resulting problems.
4. When using graphics, provide textual alternatives for image disabled or text-only web browsers and indexing agents.
5. Run Web pages through a validator to test their compliance with HTML standards.
Modify pages until they validate, because compliant pages have a better chance of being rendered by various Web browsers, as the writer intends.
However, if you intend something that is impractical with HTML, it will be no less impractical for being syntactically valid.
Work with the strengths of HTML rather than trying to batter it into a WYSIWYG page design system.
7. Spell check your documents.
8. Establish a routine to help you locate and fix broken internal and external Web site links.
8. If your web site URL or eMail address will change occasionally, consider using a service that provides eMail forwarding and URL redirection.
9. Submit your Web site address to an appropriate newsgroup for a critical peer review.
10. Promote your Web site by adding your URL to search engines and directories. To ensure that people can easily find your Web site, it may be necessary to modify your pages to take best advantage of current search technologies."
Thank you Tobias et al.
By monitoring the surfing habits of a randomly selected "media panel that is representative of the entire Web population" Relevant Knowledge claims to produce the most comprehensive and reliable statistics about the Web to date.
We know that Web statistics are notoriously unreliable, if only for the essentially decentralized nature of the Web.
Nonetheless, we found the Top Ten sites for October quite interesting, if only because they tended to support our theory that site traffic "cascades" from a small number of key destination sites.
Obviously, having a link from one of the sites listed above will do wonders for your site traffic. The question is really, however, whether or not it's the right kind of traffic. As a recruiter, for example, you may wish to attract high-level MIS profesionals to your site. In which case, you would probably prefer a link from (for example), TechWeb.
Think quality rather than quantity.... --John Blower
We received an eMail from Digital ShowBiz of Penzance in England a few days ago.
It alerted us to a couple of "semi-free programs to search for leads, watch your competition, discover PR disasters in the making and "keep an eye on things"."
My antennae went up. "Semi"-free? As one with an interest in language, I was intrigued. I mean, something's either free or it isn't. It's a bit like describing someone as "semi-follically-challenged". (Hey! I'm in California...).
Anyway, I trolled off to the site to take a look.
In essence, these two applications are:
To be fair, the licences are modestly priced at between $89 and $129.
Do they work? Well, like so many other applications, they're not available for the Mac, so I can't say...
Check out the download section of this rather wordy site to see what other products, as well as the two mentioned here, are available. --John Blower
Hits, Visitors and Stats
Assessing a site's popularity through the compiling of statistics has become a veritable cottage industry. Whole edifices of numbers are built to demonstrate that one site is more popular than another.
As in all media, Web stats are often a blend of wishful thinking and hyperbole. They are often backed up with complex analyses of "hits/day", "page requests/day" and so on.
But do these numbers mean anything?
There are a number of reasons why the interpretation of statistics from most common stats programs is fundamentally flawed. The reasons range from the phenomenon of "caching" at a number of levels, to the "misuse" of legitimate stats.
Jeff Goldberg of the Cranfield Computing Centre at the University of Cranfield in the UK has published a paper on the ins and outs of using and interpreting site statistics.
The paper is somewhat old in Web terms, but it nonetheless dispels some popular misconceptions in this area and, as such, is worth a read. --John Blower
Take a look at the Archives. We've indexed all the past issues with topic pointers.
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