Creating a Website

Once you start working on the content and features of your website with your chosen web designer there are a few things to keep in mind when creating a website:

Heading Structure

Heading structure is important not only to present a clear structure visually to the web page but also in consideration of those using text readers and the search engines.

Heading tags are used to define the headings in your page. There are 6 available, h1 set of heading tags being the biggest and boldest and the h6 set being the smallest.

These should be used as you would if you were writing a book or article and not to highlight text in your page.

Incorporate a clear heading structure when creating a website to make it easy for visitors to scan the web page contents, so those who use screen readers understand the structure of the page and to incorporate search engine optimization.

Not Designing for Most Common Screen Resolution

When creating a website, you have to take into consideration what are the most common screen resolutions for the intended target audience of the website to determine what web page width is suitable for the website.

Have you visited a website that has a web page width too wide for your monitor or browser window? You have to use the horizontal scroll to go back and forth reading and/or looking for information on the page. This makes reading the website very hard and can be very annoying if the website has some information the visitor is interested in.

Website Graphics

Web graphics play an important part in the presentation of a website.

Using the correct type of web graphic which has been optimized for optimum download speed and web hosting space conservation will affect the performance of the website. Sites containing lots of images will be slow to load and require more web hosting space.

Recycling images throughout the website will conserve web hosting space, be less costly and make the page appear to load faster if the visitor has already been to a page containing the same image.

Keep in mind that search engines do not read images (neither do screen readers that the blind use). This means all important text needs to be actually coded into the web page to take advantage of it’s content.

Flash Based Websites

Flash is a technology originally by Macromedia (now by Adobe) that creates animations, interactive websites and other fancy features that can be embedded into a web page.

The Flash file is called a movie file. Once the file has been downloaded it will “play”.

You probably have already encountered websites containing Flash movies. Some designers use Flash to create an introduction movie (also known as a splash page) or will create the whole website in Flash.

Search engines don’t read flash movies so putting important information such as your headings and content of the page within a flash movie would not be a good idea. Also, the website visitor will have to have the flash player installed. Adobe boasts that flash is installed on most machines now, but there are still the ones without flash installed to consider. This is something to keep in mind when creating a website.

Uncommon Fonts

Using uncommon fonts when creating a website can be a problem.

Windows based and Mac based computers come with different fonts installed by default.

One problem web designers have is that they forget that the average computer user may not have the same fonts installed on their machine.

If you have your heart set on using a fancy font when creating a website then the text can be done as an image. Keep in mind though, search engines don’t read images, so this wouldn’t be a very good idea for your headings.

Effective Colour Contrast

Have you taken a serious look at the colour scheme chosen for your website? Are all parts of your web page visible to everyone?

Some times when we pick a colour scheme for our website we forget that there are people with poor vision and colour deficiencies. Even website visitors with “normal” vision can have difficulties reading a web page that has poor contrast between the colours used.

Colour contrast is an important consideration when creating a website.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is a hard concept for some website owners to understand. If you are representing a product (say Mary Kay) and are given sample text to use on your website this is not going to help your website. Every other Mary Kay representative will be doing the same.

  1. Any one searching for the product is going to see a hundred other websites with the same description/text in the search results then pick the first one. If you are not number 1, you have lost the opportunity to make a sale.
  2. The search engines are smart enough to know who had this text up on their website first. Any subsequent websites with the same text will be considered duplicate content.

This principle applies to articles from sites where you have permission to put them on your website.

To avoid duplicate content penalties when creating a website, write your own original website content.

Using Javascript on Websites

Javascript is a scripting language used to insert special features on a website, preform certain tasks based on what browser the visitor is using, open new browser windows when links are clicked or check forms before submitted, to name a few uses of Javascript.

Be aware that the website user must have Javascript enabled, the search engines and screen readers can’t read Javascript and if the script is not tested properly it will not work.

Disabling Right Click

Some websites use a script to disable the right click function of the mouse (the right mouse button). This is done to try and stop people from stealing your images and/or content. Actually, it doesn’t. There are ways around this script if the person is that determined to steal something from your website.

Cross – Browser Compatibility

How does your site look in any of the major browsers? Not everyone is using Internet Explorer to surf the Internet. Are you prepared to loose visitors because your website uses proprietary coding or just doesn’t render properly in all browsers? Can you afford the lost sales?

Your website should work in at least Internet Explorer and Firefox as these are the most popular browsers at the moment. Also, there are two versions of Internet Explorer being used right now so have your website checked in IE6 and IE7 to make sure it works in both. If you have a friend using a Mac, get them to check the website also. Check the website in as many browsers and operating systems as you can while creating a website.

Does Your Website Have to be Accessible?

Accessible websites have come to the forefront of people’s minds with legal actions being taken against websites that are not accessible. As a website owner you may think this doesn’t affect your small business, association or non profit website but it does. Looking beyond the buzz word accessible, there are legal requirements of having an accessible website and legal repercussions if you don’t. If you have your website built to be accessible, it will also be more user friendly and search engine friendly. Three areas covered by implementing one set of techniques!

As you can see, there are many things to consider when creating a website. This is no where near an exhaustive list but will get you started on what to consider as you discuss your website with your chosen web designer.

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One Response to Creating a Website

  1. JasonE Says:

    I agree with you, using heading tags does make it easier for visitors to navigate a website. I am surprised how few webmasters actually use heading tags on their websites. I always use them on mine where I can. Thanks for the great info!

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