Web-Building - Lessons I've Learned

Fri Nov 28, 2008 6:38 pm

I've just gone live with the 4th website I've created. It's not perfect (or even nearly finished!), but it's miles ahead of the first three I did. And learning from previous mistakes, it was much simpler and quicker to complete.

Here are a few things I've learned:

1) Use CSS (cascading style sheets). It creates a standard for text and formatting, so your pages maintain a uniform, professional look. You'll save time, too, because you won't have to add formatting tags to your code, and your code will be tons lighter and cleaner.

2) Use "includes" for info that occurs again and again (example: menus, header, etc.). Included content is created in a separate file, then referenced in the html code to appear wherever needed. For example, in my new website, the majority of each page is included content. The header, the navigation menus, the side content, the footer, even the Google stuff are includes. Why does this help? Because whenever I want to change a menu item - or anything else that occurs on every one of my site pages - I only have to change it in one spot: the include page. All the other pages update automatically. This has saved me hours of work! And better yet, web pages load faster.

3) Create a file called reference.txt (or any file name you choose, actually) in your web, but don't publish it. This is a great place to store affilate info, file notes, site colors... any reference info you need while working on your site. I've been able to eliminate dozens of sticky notes, and my info is easier to find.

4) Start with a template that's closest to your ideal. Since you're reading this forum you obviously enjoy web design, as I do. But we know that it's content that makes good sites. By working with a template that needs only minor adjustments, you save valuable time. http://www.OSWD.org has over 2000 free CSS templates, and they're quick & easy to download. (No, I'm not affilated with them in any way. I just think they're great.)

5) Worry less about beauty and more about content. Just like in real life, beauty's only skin deep. :D Our visitors want content, so write, write, write! We can continue to tweak the visuals as we go. A beautiful site is beautiful, but it doesn't make money - unless you're selling web design skills.

Hopefully this helps someone. I'd love to hear what you all have learned, too. Thanks!
Dana K
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2008 6:29 pm

Fri Nov 28, 2008 10:25 pm

Hi Dana, Welcome to the forum! Good tips.

There's another tip you could add... Always check your site in different browsers. If you're talking about the site in your signature, have you checked it in Firefox? Looks odd to me.
Site Admin
Posts: 6299
Joined: Wed Jul 02, 2003 6:27 am
Location: Winter: Australia Summer: New Zealand

Sat Nov 29, 2008 12:11 pm

Excellent reminder, Allan. Thanks! The original template was tested in all browsers, but after all my tweaking, must have gone out of whack.

I'll download Firefox & some other browsers right away. Thanks for taking the time to look.

*** Update after viewing ***

AAARRRGHGH!! Okay, it looks more than a little "odd" - that was way too kind. What a great lesson. I actually took the site down until I can fix it.

(Trust me - it looks great in Internet Explorer!) :oops:
Dana K
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2008 6:29 pm

A free resource that may help

Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:00 am

Hi Dana

What about using http://www.BrowserShots.org? It allows you to preview your web pages in a large number of different browsers - free of charge. I was alerted to it by Christina Hills, the Shopping Cart Queen a few months ago.

It's much simpler than trying out all the browsers yourself - and is cross-platform.
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:53 am
Location: Sydney, Australia

Thu Dec 04, 2008 6:18 pm

Thanks, Annie! I'll definitely bookmark that site.

By the way, the problem was due to FrontPage extensions I used for the include pages. I had to re-do them all in standard HTML. Still haven't checked all the other browsers (just IE & FF), but will shortly.

Here's another thing I learned: MS FrontPage doesn't always play nice with others. I'm movin' on to something else, as this isn't the first grief it's caused me!
Dana K
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2008 6:29 pm

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