Ten Web-Publishing Dos and Don’ts - dummies

By Bud E. Smith

When you write Web content, you might think that anything goes, but following guidelines will help you create a better Web site. After all you want to keep your readers coming back to your site.

  • DO think about your target audience: Before you begin creating your Web site, choose the right look and feel, and a style of presentation that is appropriate for your audience.

  • 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?

    More basics:

    • Have a useful, search-engine-friendly title for each page.

    • Include your e-mail address on your Web page or Web site.

    • If you create a Web site of more than 5 to 7 pages, add a site map.

    • Make the important information prominent.

    • Include a copyright notice, usually in this form: © 2008 MyCo Inc.

  • DO think before you create: If you want to make a good impression on the Web, sitting down and thinking about the following things really pays off:

    • Page layout

    • Graphic design

    • Relationship between pages

    • Target audience

    • Content structure

    • Link grouping

  • DON’T “borrow” without asking: If a Web page doesn’t explicitly say that its content can be freely borrowed, assume that it’s copyrighted.

  • DO use links to outside sites: No matter how great your content is, you’re wasting the most important feature of the Web if you don’t include links to sites outside your own.

  • DON’T abuse graphics and multimedia: Many folks around the world still receive Web pages via a more limited 56K or slower dialup connection. Keep your page size — including text and graphics — under 50 KB.

    Here are ways that you can keep down your page size:

    • Resize photos and convert them to JPEG format.

    • Use simple icons and banners in GIF format.

    • Combine small graphics into one physical graphic that includes the white space

    • Limit the graphics on any one page; add pages if you need to display more graphics.

    • Provide text alternatives to meaningful graphics.

    • Use thumbnail icons to give access to larger images.

  • DO test your pages: Look at your pages on your own machine before posting them on the Web and test them in different browsers.

  • DON’T break netiquette rules: Avoid spamming, flaming, or posting potentially offensive material without a warning.

  • DO ask for feedback: Put your e-mail address on your home page and ask for comments. You’ll be amazed by what people say about your pages.

  • DON’T let your site get stale: The best sites are those that continually provide new and interesting content. Include pointers to information that’s frequently updated, such as “Thought for the day” or “Links to new, cool sites.”