More musings on web-building

Looking back I don’t think I was very clear, so I’ll steal someone else’s words to clarify a little:

  •   Themes define the look of navigation buttons, page banners, fonts, font colors, styles, horizontal rules, bullets, and a few other features. By applying a theme to your web, all of these features will be changed. 
  • Page Templates, on the other hand, specify a specific page layout. They may incorporate Theme elements (for example, navigation bars), but have a pre-defined page design. It is then up to you to add your own content and create a web site with more pages. 
  • Web Templates help you to create a new web. Using a Web Template will create a web that has a certain navigational structure in place already, with several pre-designed pages. Using the Web Template will help you to get started; it is then up to you to add your content and add or delete pages.

 Home Page

 

Your Home Page will probably receive more hits than any, and may be the only thing people see before they surf on. 

 

It needs to

  • load quickly (not too many big images, etc)
  • be welcoming (so they know they have found the right place) 
  • be easy to navigate from (if they want to dig deeper).

 I like the sheer clarity of Google’s first page (which hides huge complexity, and assumes people mostly want just one thing).

 

For an example of a complex but well designed front page (which assumes you WILL want to dig deeper), I guess Amazon is good.

 

 

Consistency or surprise

 

Of course, if you aren’t selling anything then a website can be an art piece, and can have quirky attitudes (for instance, generally when you click on a thumbnail you see a larger version of the same picture – I occasionally break that rule for the element of surprise…for instance, if you click on the picture of me at the age of 4, you get a morpher image – 4 to 58 in a few secs!)

 

My front page is a mess, but invites you to rummage and browse, because my site resembles my den.
If you click on internal links, the next page opens in the same window, with the same navigation bar up the left hand side…so you can wander around…and not get lost…and either use the Back Button, or the Home link, etc.

 

Links to external sites open in a New Window, so that it is clear you have left my site, and can wander OFF, but when you finally close that side-trip window you’ll find mine still waiting where you left off.  Just my own idea.

 

Navigation

 

As well as some kind of navigation bar, or tabs, or buttons – it helps if the page has a name (I also add a note of when the page was last updated).

 

Without learning any code, you might want to consider adding a few details at the HTML code level (i.e. hidden). 
  • A page name here means that if people save a Link/Bookmark/Favourite, then it has the title you have given it. It is also the name that Google will display. 

<title>Toby Philpott’s Home Page</title>

 

  • A page description (which Google will display). If you don’t do that, Google samples the top of the page, which might be boring buttons, etc.

<meta name=”description” content=”Toby Philpott never settled for a straight job or a simple life, and made his living as a comedy juggler, then later as a film puppeteer“>

 

  • ‘tags’ with keywords people may search for. They got so misused (with people putting sex sex sex sex ,  to climb the Google charts) that they aren’t crucial, but I think they are still useful.

<meta name=”keywords” content=”Jabba the Hutt, juggler, juggling, puppets, Toby Philpott, magic, Sixties, NoFit State Circus”>

 

Contact

 

If you want (or need) people to contact you easily, you have to publish an email address, and this will get spammed by robots.
People sometimes try to confuse bots by putting (say)  toby at gmail dot com – but you can confuse the user just as much. 
I have used a simple (free) encrypter on my front page, so you see the email address, and it opens your email software when you click…You could even fill in a subject line (mine just says ‘Contact’ right now), but is secure from non-humans.
Or simply have a completely different address for the website, from your personal one…(Gmail, or Googlemail as it gets called in the UK, has good spam filtering.)

 

Site Counter

 

The (free) site counter is there because it amuses me to know where people come from (by countries, as well as by referring links that led to me.   It tells me the commonest browsers, screen sizes, etc that people use (if you can’t control all layout issues, you can favour the majority at least) It can imply business, although you can start the clock at (say) 2000, so don’t trust them! A useful tool, though.

e.g. On my website

 69% of visitors use Internet Explorer, another 18% Firefox

Most people use Windows XP, and have Java enabled (for fancy effects I don’t yet use)

They usually look through either a 1280×1024 resolution screen or 1024×768

  

People visit from all over but don’t (in my case) always come in the front door (the Home Page is always called Index, by the way) but they often find the Star Wars Jabba page first (when I am active doing interviews, for instance)

  

Miscellaneous

 

 Get a free website! (chatty but helpful)

 

Dreamweaver Templates (some free, some you pay for)

 

Another Dreamweaver tutorial

 

Dry but realistic assessment of users, and site usability

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