Building a webpage takes a whole lot of time, and can be tedious. Maintaining it takes much more time (a fact which surprises many people) and can be even more tedious. Here are some very important tips to consider when building your web page (with or without website builder).

Take time and build something unique

First and most important, whatever you put on your web page, it has to be of interest to you. If you are not passionate about, or at least interested in, the topics your site covers the whole process can lose its appeal rapidly. Its exactly like crocheting a large afghan project as a present for someone else when you personally hate the pattern you’re building.

Providing unique or hard-to-find information is exactly the thing you want to do. If it appears as if that’s the track you are headed on, don’t loose your step, rather keep at it! Doing so will make your site extremely valuable.

Make sure your page looks good everywhere

Once the site is ready, look at it on as many platforms, screen resolutions and browsers as possible. If someone with a small screen has to scroll side-to-side, they will not come back.

Most important on your home page, not quite as important on secondary pages- you must capture your viewer’s interest in the first 4 inches of the page. That’s all that shows on many viewers’ web browsers.

And if they’re not interested, they won’t take the time to scroll down to see what else there you have to offer.

Webpage speed is important

If your site is intended to be used by people from home, make sure to try it out with someone’s ADSL connection to see how fast it loads. Or run a page load check to see how efficient your page load is… or isn’t. Here is a tool to help you out with this task

You have 3 seconds to get something interesting loaded up, otherwise people will leave the site as fast as they arrived.

Try looking and navigating the site with image loading turned off. Is the site still usable? Not pretty, just usable. People with slow Internet connections often browse with images off.

A pet peeve of mine about many *commercial* web sites…

An amazingly large number of sites make their business contact information extraordinarily difficult to find. Sometimes the address is buried 5 levels deep on an order form, the email address is hidden behind an icon pointing to a CGI script, and the phone numbers are buried on an about us page.

I usually wonder, “Don’t you *want* people to be able to contact you?! My record so far is the time I spent 20 minutes trying to find the street address for a store from their WWW site. I never did find it. I know I could have sent email and asked, but that would have been cheating. 🙂 And then there are those sites where they don’t mention the business name (I’m not making that up!)

So, to anyone with a commercial site, selling a product or service, put the following on your front page or have a link on your front page pointing to one page with the following information:

-Business name
-Street address and/or PO Box
-Every phone number that applies- toll free, regular, ordering.
-Fax number
-Email address, spelled out in text.
-URL address for the site.

This might not appear to make sense at first, because they’re at your site already. But maybe they want to print the page out and save it as a reference.

When were those articles updated?

Always put a “last modified” date at the bottom of each page. Doing so, your viewers are assured the web page content they’re viewing is recent and updated. No one wants to find themselves wasting valuable time on old, outdated material and there’s certainly no use in getting a reputation as OLD HAT. Always remember this… the Internet is extremely date and time sensitive.

Give options to your users

If you are going to play background sounds/music, provide a way for the visitor to TURN IT OFF!  I hate it when some site takes over my sound system, drowning out the CD I had chosen to play that night for myself on my computer.

BBlinking, flashing, and animated things on a web page annoy many people. Not everyone, but it is definitely something to keep in mind.

I’d suggest that your site have a clearly stated reason for being other than just your photos online for public viewing.

Become an authority

You need to have a reason for your site to be linked to by others, you need to have a reason for people to return to your site weekly or so, you need to have a site that will turn up on search engine results. Consider how often you have visited “gallery of photos” web sites; how many of those do you continue to visit on a regular basis?

If you read newsgroups regularly, you’ll have noticed that many subscribers there have such web sites. They post frequently, they mention their site in their posts, they post to say it’s been updated, they run photo of the week contests and post to announce the contest winners.

My subjective interpretation of this promotion is that having a gallery isn’t interesting enough in and of itself to keep repeat viewers coming back. I think other content is necessary, but you have to have the idea which is compelling enough to keep “you” interested in creating new content on a weekly basis.

I have no clue as to your interests or abilities. My own experience is that people come see photos once or twice “as photos” but that text or content which is informative and updated weekly keeps visitors coming back for more. (if the text is relevant to their needs or desires)

Become an authority on the content your provide your viewers and they’ll keep coming back for more, along with their friends, acquaintances and associates. Content is always KING of the Home Page.

No matter how compelling the images, they eventually lose their impact after repeated viewing. You may well have the ability to create compelling images with lasting impact, in which case I am entirely wrong; today, however, my bet is on content other than photographs that will fuel your web site with a valuable stream of dedicated viewers.

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