In my last article, we looked at Ten Web Publishing DOs, we learned to think about your target audience, to publicizing your site and to ask permission for content. Today we are going to look at the opposite side of the spectrum, and dive into the ten things you SHOULDNT do as a web publisher.
So without further adu, lets get started.
DON’T Limit Your Audience
If using non-standard features is important to your goals for the page, Include links to the software that works with your pages – a link to the QuickTime site if you host QuickTime movies or a link to the RealAudio site if you include RealAudio sound, for example.
DON’T Break Netiquette Rules
Using poor netiquette – the etiquette, of the Internet – is easy to do, and it can bring you a lot of negative attention. If you make any serious offences against good Internet practices, your Web service provider’s server may remove your pages. And you can even get into legal problems.
Avoid the following dubious practices:
- Spamming, or sending unwanted e-mail to publicize your site or sell things
- Flaming, or being fervently disparaging of other people or other Web pages
- Posting offensive material on your page without some kind of warning label
DON’T “Borrow” Content without Asking
Make sure that content you get from the Web to use on your own Web page is labeled as being freely available for reuse, or else get permission to reuse it.
Many people are quite happy to help if you ask nicely and credit their work. The best part is that you make some good contacts with other interesting people. You also keep the law on your side.
DON’T Abuse Graphics and Multimedia
The biggest mistake that beginning Web authors – and some experts – make is overusing graphics on a page. Keep in mind that not everyone has a cable modem or DSL connection wired directly to his or her home PC; many folks around the world receive Web pages via a more limited 56K or slower modem. For most pages, keep your page size, including both text and graphics, under 50K. Here are ways that you can keep down your page size without sacrificing design flexibility:
- Convert photos to JPEG format.
- Use simple icons and banners – images without very many colours or complex textures – in GIF format.
- Lay out your site to limit the amount of graphics on any one page; add pages if you need to display more graphics.
- Use thumbnail icons to give access to larger images.
All these strategies make your pages smaller and faster for others to download. Your Web surfers will thank you.
DON’T Forget ALT Text and Text Versions of Menus
One beginners’ mistake is not offering text versions of menus, which is needed because some people turn off graphics when surfing the Net, and others, who use special software to overcome blindness, can’t see graphics.
Some home users turn off graphics to speed things along, downloading only the graphics that they really need. Other people pay a high hourly rate for their Internet access and turn off graphics to save money on their connection time. Others may be looking at your Web page through a palmtop computer or Web-enabled mobile phone with limited graphics capability.
If your navigation bar or other menu-type items are in graphical form, provide a text version as well. Always use ALT text to provide text equivalents to your graphics. Using ALT text is easy to do and makes it easier for all those people to access your content.
DON’T Forget the Basics
Your site may be the greatest thing since sliced bread, but if you forget to include contact information for yourself in the site, how will you find out that you misspelled “bureaucracy” all over the place? Similarly, you won’t get many orders for your spiffy new widget if you put the ordering information five levels down in a Web page called “Fruit Bat Guano Statistics – 1876.”
- Have a useful, search-engine-friendly title for each page.
- Include your e-mail address on your Web page.
- Include a copyright notice.
- If you create a Web site of more than 5 to 7 pages, add a site map.
- Give credit where credit is due.
- Make the important info prominent.
- Be ready to revise, based on user feedback.
DON’T Start by Setting up Your Own Web Server
You can find so-called “easy-to-use” Web server packages on the market, and Web server capability is being built into many Macs and PCs. But even with these efforts, buying, setting up, and maintaining a Web server can become the most expensive, most complicated, and most frustrating part of Web publishing. Luckily, you can put your content on someone else’s Web server using the free services, or you can use an inexpensive paid service, while you figure out the other tricks of the trade. Then, as your knowledge and experience grow, consider setting up your own Web server.
DON’T Make Your Site Hard to Navigate
Beginners often organize their pages so that their sites are hard to navigate. If your site has more than 5 to 7 pages, you should put some thought into how your visitors navigate it. Nobody likes wandering from link to link with no idea what is where. Likewise, users don’t want to follow ten links to find one piece of information.
Keep the relationship between your pages simple. Make clear which links are internal to your own site and which go out to other sites. Provide a site map or a common menu. And make navigation work consistently throughout the site.
DON’T Forget the “World” in World Wide Web
Remember that your Web pages are available and accessible to the whole world. Think a bit about foreign audiences. Should you include content in multiple languages? Do you use colloquialisms that may not be understood by international Net surfers? How do your pages look to your overseas colleagues who view them through a slow transoceanic Net link? Will you’re humorous or risqué content offend someone in another country or culture?
When you become a web publisher, you also become a global citizen, and your web pages play on a global stage. Think through the accessibility and meaning of your pages in advance.
DON’T Be Afraid to Find Out More
Web publishing is not rocket science. It is computer science, but it’s relatively easy computer science. You’re not trying to land the space shuttle here – and chances are, lives are not at stake. After you have your site working the way you want it to, experiment. Try weird things. Ask for feedback. Never be afraid to figure out complex and hard stuff.
Enjoy designing and creating your own website, and as long as you follow these basic rules, you will end up with a website that will be highly functional, and one you can be proud of.