Volume 15, Issue 1, 2002
Maintaining a Web Site: Ten Top Tips
[Sidebar to "Setting up an Economics Web Site: A Beginner's Guide" by Martin Poulter]
- Get the content right first: that is what will make others link to or bookmark your site.
- If your HTML editor has a template facility, use it. Otherwise, you can speed up the creation of pages by making a page with your preferred images, colour scheme and so on, saved locally as template.htm . To create a new page, open this file, immediately save it with the new filename, and start adding content.
- Bookmark some tutorials or reference documents in HTML and whatever other languages you'll be using and, if necessary, keep them open in another window, or printed out in front of you, while working on your site.
- Prominently include an email address so that people can contact you - either to tell you about problems or congratulate you!
- Prominently include the dates when content was created and when it was last updated. At least if you don't update your site for years, people will see that it was good for its time.
- Look at the site from the perspective of someone who stumbles on it not knowing where they are. Is the purpose of the site clear? Does it invite them to continue?
- If yours is a regularly updated site, look at the site from the perspective of a return visitor. Is it clear what has changed recently and where the latest updates are?
- Write in a way which makes sense when printed out or read out loud. Avoid "click here".
- If you have more than one Web browser, use them all to view your end results. You can't guarantee that the site will look just the same in each, but you can ensure that it is readable in each.
- There are many tools for checking the quality of your work. A link checker such as the freeware program Xenu's Link Sleuth (http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html) will weed out broken links. A validator such as http://validator.w3.org/ will point out incorrect HTML or CSS. Bobby (http://www.cast.org/bobby/) will give advice on how to make your site accessible to disabled users.