Checklist web page

A few things to review, before launching your pages on the web.

Titles and Meta Tags

Page titles are very important, craft them carefully, include the main search term for your page. Concentrate on what the page is about, keep as short or targeted as possible.

Meta Keywords are ignored by the major search engines -a few keywords are still a good idea, not more than 6-8.

Meta Descriptions may or may not get used by the search engines to describe your page.

Keyword Density

A search engine is looking for a relevant page to the search term/phrase employed, so it looks for occurrence's of these "key words". It used to be that lots of these were a good thing. Now they are looking for a natural distribution of them - in the text, in headings, linking text or image alt text. - each search engine seems to have an idea of what this is, and it varies over time. A simple approach is to write naturally clear concise copy about your subject, link to it, use headings and subheads where appropriate, and hope it works. The next step is to compare your page, in a search results page or utility, that highlights keywords, and compare it to highly ranked pages in your category. This is not scientific, as the pages you compare to may be highly ranked for another reason (such as link popularity).

Colors

At one time there was a cross platform color palette - no longer relevant with only 4% of folks browsing at 256 colors, and other advances and changes in monitors, operating systems, etc. However, most image editing, and authoring tools still use a default color palette from the "web safe" days. Still, worth keeping in mind that may users may not be using a 22 inch monitor at 32 bit color, that older monitors may be significantly darker with less contrast - so pushing the edge on contrast between type and background not recommended. See Un-safe color palettes for a fuller discussion, and remember to check your site at different color depths.

Tags

H1 - H4 tags indicate a heading, so some search engines assign them a little more importance than body text. H1 and H2 tags are too large for most uses, but you can redefine them using CSS.

Image alt txt tags - not that many folks browse without images anymore, but they do offer you a chance to mention your blue widget again, and some browsers show them as tool tips. Search engines like them.

Liquid Page Design

Does the page resize with with changes in browser window size? For netscape 4 versions a javascript resize fix may be necessary. In most cases a problem with the width not adjusting will be a width set where you don't want it, or a fixed width set that should be a percentage.

Compatibility

Check Target Browsers, local and external links, and page "liquidity" - that is does it display at different resolutions, browser widths. Liquid design refers to pages that adjust in layout according to the browser window size, particularly width. Check page without Javascript enabled.

There are a couple approaches to what compatibility to shoot for - everybody limits the technology available to the majority, etc. Statistics are available on browser usage, and of course, for an existing site, you can see what your visitors are using by checking the server logs.

Footer

It is usually desirable to include a small credit/copyright line at the bottom of a page, perhaps with a link to contact info.

Page weight, size.

There are two things we are concerned with here, the size of the html file alone (which the search engines see), and the total page size (weight) which is the html file, plus all the images, and any external css or javascript files.

Some search engines (Google, Fast, for example) seem to prefer smaller pages (say, 10k html ) - I think on the theory that they load faster, therefore the search engine experience is faster, must be a better search engine. Others will tolerate 20-30k html. Total page weight is with images, and also should be kept in mind. I generally try and keep main images less than 15k where possible, total page weight less than 50k. Exceptions can exist, web has gotten faster- but if folks have to wait for your first page, you risk loosing them. I have redone a site to convert to CSS and seen average html page size cut in half.

One easy way to check total weight of a page is to "save as" it into a new folder from a browser. Check the properties of the folder for total size, it will be within a few bytes of the page total weight.

When to make a page into two? Depends on the content. A page of "research" text can be three times as long as a page of "sales" text - your visitor is interested in the details. However, unless you have hooked your visitor, a long page of text can send them elsewhere - too much work. (Still with me?)

A lot of pages have been getting larger lately, with corresponding increase in web rage (like road rage, for web surfers). Keep that size down!

Above the fold

Does your page state clearly what it is about in the top of the page, visible in a smaller monitor?

Spelling and Grammar

Even the best wordsmiths and spell checkers stumble. A fresh pair or two of eyes helps.

Etc.

Privacy policy, copyright, link logo to home page, validate html and css.

Admire your work.

Oregon web site design and promotion guide

May 24, 2002

ML WEBB, web site design and promotion, Eugene, Oregon
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