Know the Basic Vocabulary
||A web page address
|Internet Protocol (IP) address
||Numerical website address
||A computer that hosts web pages and communicates with a web browser
||The company or individual providing and maintaining the web server
|Domain name server (DNS)
||Converts text-based domain names into numerical IP (Internet Protocol) addresses
- A computer program that allows the user to view web pages
- Web browsers interpret and display web page files
||A collection of web pages located at a particular domain
||A single document on a website
- The first page that will appear at a given domain
- Also called an index page
|Uniform Resource Locator (URL)
- The address of a website
- Entered into and displayed in the location or address bar of your web browser
||A word or graphic that, when clicked on, causes the browser to display another location on the same web page, another web page on the same site, or a web page or at another website
Web Page Construction
|Static web pages
||Web pages whose content is changed only by changing the web page code
|Dynamic web pages
- Web pages whose content changes in response to visitor input
- Usually interact with web pages
- Commonly used in e-commerce
- Also called active server pages
- Server-side dynamic web pages run the program on the application server of the website instead of on the visitor's computer (i.e., CGI, ISP, PHP, and ASP)
|Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
||The computer language used to construct web pages
- A picture file
- GIF - most commonly used for simple line graphics
- JPEG - most commonly used for photographs or graphics with many shades of color
- PNG - portable network graphic; combines some of the features of GIFs and JPEGs
- Slower to load than text
||Characters rendered by the browser rather than stored as picture files
Searching the Web
Return to Table of Contents
||A website that provides a searchable directory or index for people seeking web page links to a particular topic.
|Directory, i.e., Yahoo!, Looksmart
- A search engine that collects website listings by direct entry, rather than automated indexing
- May be fee-for-listing based
- Listing evaluated by human editors
|Web crawler, i.e., Google
- Also called a robot
- A program that visits websites and indexes their contents for a search engine
- Indexing is based on the title of a site, the information contained in the description and keywords section of the web page header, and the text content of the site.
- The word or phrase for which the user to a search engine is seeking information
- Also called a keyword or phrase
Know What You Want
Specify Your Budget
Upfront costs - the initial design and construction of the site
Maintenance costs - initial and annual (or biannual) domain name registration
Monthly or annual web hosting costs
Cost of regular updating/revision of content
The amount of money available budgeted for the website should be directly proportional to its size and the complexity of its functions. It's better to spend a certain amount to do less better than to spend the same amount to do more poorly.
Identify the Purpose(s) and Function(s) of the Website
- For employees
- For business partners
- For potential clients/customers
- For existing clients/customers
- Enrollment in an organization
- Registration for events/services
- Providing customer service
- Providing a computer-based service to visitors, i.e., access to on-line programs or classes
- Updating information
- Input of transactions
- To potential clients/customers
- To new clients/customers
- With business partners
- To the public at large
Identify the Website's Target Audience(s)
Note that all external pages are accessible internationally, but sales and service sites must decide what countries they are willing to do business in and be aware of any relevant laws pertaining to that business in those countries.
- Internal, i.e., intranet
- Limited external, i.e., business partnerships
- External, accessible to the general public
- Local, domestic, or international
Sites that are truly targeting visitors internationally should have translation functions or different versions for different languages.
Frequency of use - many one-time visitors and/or frequent return visitors
Identify the Means by Which You Expect Visitors to Find Your Site
Based in part on the site's target audience and the type of business
- Employee/business partner access
- Local/national advertising through other media
- Search engines/directories
- Links for other, related sites
- Advertising on your printed materials/ads, i.e., business cards
Develop a Site Map
- Identify the main sections of the website.
- Identify the particular topics to be covered on each page.
- Show the relationships between the pages/sections.
- Develop main and submenus.
- Identify pattern of links.
- Identify individual pages, including the classes of pages in which data from databases may be included.
Identify the Corporate Identity (Branding) You Wish the Website to Project
This may be based on existing logos, letterhead, advertising in other media, etc.
Often based on type of business, i.e., more conservative for financial institutions, more avant-garde for art sites.
Identify Hosting Options
- Requires access to major ISP, domain name server
- Requires sufficient technical staff to ensure reliability and security
- Usually less expensive
- Often more reliable
- Contracted host provides Internet connectivity, DNS, and technical staff
Select a Domain Name
Choose several possible names in case one is already taken
You may register several domain names and have the alternate name pages re-directed to the "main" name.
Register the Domain Name/Contract With the Web Host
If the domain name is registered with one company, and the site is hosted with another, there may be a fee to transfer the domain name to the DNS for a different host.
Return to Table of Contents
Know Something About the Technical Considerations Inherent in Website Design, Construction, and Traffic Management
The construction of web pages such that they are useable by voice or text-only browsers
- ALT tags giving text labels for graphics should always be included
- Table summary tags should identify the content/purpose of tables used in the web page
- Keyboard shortcuts may be provided.
- Legal issues with government websites not being accessible
Not everyone uses the same web browser.
Web browsers interpret HTML, so web pages may appear or function differently in different browsers, or even in different versions of browsers.
This may affect the colors, layout, and/or functionality of the web page and client-side dynamic elements.
To the maximum extent possible, a web page should be constructed so that its appearance and functionality are acceptable in all of the major web browsers, both current and older versions, including text-only browsers.
- Microsoft Internet Explorer
- Netscape Navigator
- "Web-safe" colors should be used when possible.
- Proprietary HTML tags should be avoided (see Standards below).
- Web pages should be tested on as many computers and browsers as possible (see Testing below).
Computer Monitor Variability
Computer monitors vary in:
Be very careful About Using shades of yellow and orange, which have a tendency to be extremely variable between computers.
- Color rendering
- Consider using "web-safe" colors, which are designed to render similarly on different computers and in different browsers (see Browser Independence above).
There are standards for the construction of web page components.
Adherence to these published standards for all components of the web page (HTML, dynamic web pages, etc.) improves your chances of achieving accessibility and browser independence.
Some HTML-generating programs (i.e., Microsoft Word "Save as Web Page," Microsoft FrontPage, Adobe GoLive, Dreamweaver UltraDev) may generate non-standard HTML and/or active elements.
Factors affecting loading speed include:
- The amount of time it takes a web page document to load the first time it is loaded by a particular browser.
- Faster after the first time because a browser will "cache" the page's components
- The cache can be manually emptied to test loading speed again using that same browser. (Method for doing this varies by browser.)
Rule of Thumb: About one-third of your visitors will leave your site if the majority of the page they first see has not loaded in eight seconds.
- The total size of the web page, which is the sum of the sizes of:
- the HTML file
- all graphics files used in the document
- About graphics:
- Many small graphics load faster than one large one
- When possible, use text instead of graphics; it loads much faster.
- The speed of the network connection of the user, which depends on the type of connection (in order from slowest to fastest):
- Dial-up with modem - Note: Although there are several different speeds of modems, the effective loading speed between them is approximately the same.
- Cable modem
- T-1 or T-3 (business)
In order to ensure that a website is browser and computer independent and that the load speed is acceptable, it is important to test the website:
- On as many different computers as possible
- With as many different monitors as possible
- With as many different browsers as possible
- With as many different network connection as possible to the extent that these are likely to vary among your visitors.
Increasing Site Traffic
If are relying on search engines to guide visitors to your site, then you'll want your site to rank highly when visitors search on specific terms related to your site.
Ranking and visitor numbers are affected by:
- The listing of your site in web page directories, such as Yahoo!
- The indexing of your site by crawler-based search engines such as Google
- The link popularity of your site (the number of other sites that link to it)
- Sponsored links based on keyword bids or impressions
Optimizing Your Site for Search Engines
For directory-based search engines:
In order for your web pages to rank well in crawler-based search engine indexes, they should be constructed with certain components:
- Submissions are made manually, and include your site's URL, the title of your site, and a brief description.
- Commercial organizations may have to pay to submit their site, or may wish to opt for paid submission to get your listing evaluated or listed more quickly.
- Titles and descriptions should include key search terms, although these may be edited by the human editors who evaluated submissions.
Note that the use of multimedia (i.e., Flash) presentations on the home page reduces the chances that your site will be indexed (or indexed well) by web crawlers.
- Descriptive titles
- META tags, which give information about the page's content and construction to the web crawler
- ALT tags, which give textual descriptions of images
- Text, which includes the search terms that you would expect someone searching for your type of website to use
- Heading tags, which emphasize the most important information on the page
- Links to other pages within the website, which will lead the spider to index those pages as well
- The website directory structure should be no more than three levels deep, since few web crawlers will go any deeper than that.
Link popularity may be increased by requesting that your site be added to directories related to your topic, or by link exchanges with other, related sites.
Return to Table of Contents
Know How to Evaluate Web Contractors
How to Find Them
You can locate various types of web consultants via:
- Word of mouth
- Traditional phone directories and ads
- Web directories
- Web searches
- Credits on websites you like
Local Versus Virtual
Web page design, construction, maintenance, and traffic management can conceivably be done from anywhere in the world.
- Development of logos and graphics
- Development of custom layouts
- Development of multimedia presentations, i.e., Flash, Quicktime
- Frequently use HTML-generating programs to develop web pages, which may produce browser-dependent and slow-loading pages and applications
- May be unfamiliar with the technical aspects of web page design and construction, search engine optimization, and testing
Computer applications programmers
- Should be more familiar with the technical aspects of web page and website construction, search engine optimization, and testing
- Can manually create and/or optimize HTML for browser independence and loading speed
- Less likely to have the artistic background or experience with graphics software to be able to create original art
- Less likely to be extensively skilled in computer applications development techniques
Traffic management/search engine optimization consultants
- Skilled in dynamic web page construction and testing techniques, usually specializing in server-side applications development
- Less likely to spend time on other aspects of design or construction
- And you wouldn't want them to - their rates tend to be higher than those of graphic artists and HTML programmers
Choose the type or combination of types of contractors that will allow you to do the most with the requirements you have specified and the budget you have allocated
- Search term/keyword selection
- Optimization of pages for web crawlers
- Search engine directory submission
- Pay-per-click management
- Specialty area - must know some of the other techniques in order to do this effectively
Beware of "hybrids" - People who have taken classes in graphics, HTML-generating and/or applications development software, and have purchased search engine optimization tools, but have not been trained in the technical aspects of any of them. In these cases, you will often get none of the strengths and all of the weaknesses.
- Training - particularity competency in areas that you feel are especially important to your business
- Availability - initial design, maintenance
- Estimates are only as accurate as the information you give the web consultant
- Prepare a request for proposal (RFP) containing all of the information from the Know What You Want section above
Estimates may be given:
- By the hour
- By the project
- For maintenance: on retainer for a contract period
Return to Table of Contents