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theBusinessNet WEBSITE DESIGN

First these tips...

Keep it SIMPLE!  You web pages must be attractive to the eye... well organized... and full of GOOD content.  If you try to dazzle the visitor with awesome graphics, sound and animation... they will likely be tired of waiting for the page to load... and then so overwhelmed with the astounding presentation... they will miss the content and leave!  KEEP IT SIMPLE... make it quick & easy to find what they want.

Your first or home page (usually index.html) is the starting point... but every page has its own URL or internet address.  Someone can enter your site in the middle... this sometimes happens when searching the net.  So it is important they be able to navigate your site from any page.

COPY!  Search the net for web sites similar to what you want yours to be... and when you find a site that works... don't be afraid to copy!  Of course you can't copy and use material that is copyrighted... and when I say copy I don't mean download someone else's work and use it for your own.  But you can copy style... layout and organizational technique.

Do not use SOUND... unless your site requires it as part of the content.  Sound files are huge... and take up valuable space that is needed for your business content.  And... many people get irritated when your favorite music bombards their senses... or won't have the software to hear the music or whatever anyway.

Do not use FRAMES... unless there is no other way to accomplish the layout for your site.   Some browsers can't use frames... but more important... MANY people hate frames.  This site uses tables... tables allow you to do most of the layout techniques of frames and almost all browsers do recognize them.

This page is made up of a large table (600 pixels width to display correctly on most any resolution or configuration) with a graphic background (the spiral notebook) and centered. Nested inside the big table is another table (549 pixels) aligned to the right... it holds all the copy and smaller tables for placement and special attributes of special content such as the newsletter registration panel below.

The navigation bar at the top of this page is merely a six cell table with a yellow background (if you are using IExplorer... in Netscape it will be white). Each cell contains a link (HTML, GRAPHICS, etc.) to a section of the page. These links are called "bookmarks" or "anchors links"... when clicked they scroll the page down to the that particular section.

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HTML

HTML is the language used to write web pages. It is simply text with special words or tags that a browser recognizes and acts upon. HTML can be written in most of today's word processors or text editors.  It is not necessary to learn HTML to design your website... however... the more you learn about HTML the easier your design task will be and the better your site will be. I recommend you get a good book or turotial to help you along the way. Here is where you can download or use online an excellent free HTML manual...

TrainingTools.com

Most of the free website hosts listed in the ActionNet provide online software that does the HTML code for you. If you need your own free "what you see is what you get" web design software... I recommend AOL Press... you use it like a word  processor... just layout your page and it writes the code.   Although AOL Press comes from "America On Line" it is free and doesn't need AOL to function... you can download it from AOL PRESS... but you will find it and many other page editors and tools at...

COMPLETELY FREE SOFTWARE

Another great WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) web page editor is IMS Web Dwarf. It has excellent features including... drag and drop... importing from word processors... snap to grid positioning for page components... and much more. It takes a little time to learn... but once mastered is an exceptional tool. It's free... here's where you can download it...

http://www.virtualmechanics.com/

Arachnophilia is a great HTML editor.  It is not "wysiwyg"... but can copy and insert just about anything from a word processor and convert it to HTML.  Of course it's free... but it is loaded with features you usually only find in the costly commercial editors.  You will find it at COMPLETELY FREE SOFTWARE... or you can find out more and download it directly from...

Arachnoid

You will find many other places for  free software... HTML guides and tutorials... tips for website design... and all kinds of things in...

ActionNet Resources

The tools I recommend here are all for the PC and are Windows based...   if you want to do your work on the MAC... you will have to search the net for free software... it is out there.  What ever method you use to design your business website... follow these rules...

1. Plan your site... write out the content... lay out the design on paper.

2. Put your site on your computer hard disk just as it will be on the net. You should have a special directory for all your images (preferably called images).

3. Check and double check grammar and spelling.

4. If possible... preview your web pages in both 640X480 and 800X600 screen resolution.

5. If possible... preview your web pages with Netscape and Explorer browsers.

6. Take your time.

7. KEEP IT SIMPLE!!!

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ultimatepromotion.com



graphics play a big part in building a website

As the old saying goes... Pictures GRAPHICS are worth a thousand words!  And it's true... but don't over use them.  They slow down your site.

If you want to create or edit your own graphic images... a good free graphics editor is 20/20... you can download it at COMPLETELY FREE SOFTWARE above... or you will also find it and other free graphics software at...

Hotfreeware

Most of the freebie website hosts offer an archive of banners... buttons... backgrounds and other graphics to use... but you can find just about everything you need at our ActionNet sister site. It is a large directory of the best graphics available on the net...

Free Graphics Directory

There are 100's of free graphics sites on the net... they come and go.  If you surf and search for free graphics... be certain the site allows the images to be used on a business site.

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Javascript can make you web pages come to life

JavaScript is the magician of the Internet!   Put your cursor over the title above... if you are using Netscape or Internet Explorer 4... the text will change color and a message will pop-up in the status bar below.  If you are using an older version of Explorer you will only see the message in the status bar. 

Like just about everything you can use in website design... JavaScript doesn't work exactly the same for every browser. In fact some browsers won't recognize JavaScript at all... so it is important that scripts be written so as to not cause an error in non-javascript browsers.   That is done by simply putting in the script hidden as a comment... later version browsers read and act on it... older browsers ignore it.  This is done by enclosing the script in comment tags... <!-- script goes here -->.

Fortunately... you don't have to learn to write JavaScript.  There are sites full of free javascripts you can put in your web pages.

Javascripts can do a lot of things for you... get visitor information... forms... email... search the web or your site... manipulate text and images... and much more.  Use the simplest script possible to accomplish the task... and this word of warning... incorrect or incomplete javascripts can wreak havoc on your pages.

Here are some of my favorite JavaScript sites and most of them include tutorials...

Java Goodies JavaScript Repository... http://www.javagoodies.com/

JavaScript World... http://www.jsworld.com/

JavaScript Source... http://javascriptsource.com/

The FreeSite... lots of Javascript links... http://www.thefreesite.com/freejava.htm

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COUNTERS and TRACKERS

Having a counter is a must... it keeps track of the number of people who visit your site... and other information you will need to fine tune your online business.  I recommend you use a hidden or invisible counter.  When you start out... you don't want people to come to your site and find out there have been only 10 people there before them... not much of a confidence builder!  Free invisible or hidden counters are hard to find.  My favorite is The Counter!  It can be totally invisible... no banners... no icons... nothing visible on you pages.  And it will give you a wealth of good information... how many hits/visitors you've had today... this week... this month... forever.  Plus... where they came from... what search engine they used (if any)... their browser... their screen resolution... and much, much more.  The service is totally free.  You can check them out at...

http://www.thecounter.com

Most of the freebie hosts offer counters... problem is... they can't be hidden.  There are many other counter services out there and maybe you can find another one you would rather use... just search for counters.


FORMS

A guestbook form is a very reliable way to get feedback from visitors to your site...  most of the freebie hosts provide them and if yours doesn't... there are many free guestbook services.

However... I don't use a regular guestbook service.  They have the same problem as most counters.  They allow people to browse through your guestbook... it doesn't look good if you have no entries in your book!  Instead... I use a free CGI forms service.  It allows me to design the form just the way I want it... and nobody can look at past entries... they are all emailed to me.  Take a look at this example feedback form... it pops up in a new window... just close it when you are finished.

I use a completely FREE service called Mailform... it has no advertising.  The only disadvantage to Mailform is that you have to write out the form code yourself... but they give you a step-by-step tutorial and examples.  All you have to do is register your email address.  Here is the link...

Here are some other free CGI form services that are a little simpler to use... but do have ads on the forms...

Freedback... http://www.freedback.com

Free-Mail... http://www.remote-software.com/free.mail.html

Response-O-Matic... http://www.response-o-matic.com/home.htm

The best part about the free CGI form services is... even if your freebie host doesn't have CGI... you can design any kind of form you need for your particular business.  And they also give you a real email setup for your visitors.


CGI

In order to use your own CGI scripts... your website host must allow you to have a cgi-bin directory on your site.  And... since most CGI scripts are written in perl (programming language)... the host must have perl available on its server.  Perl scripts can be a real pain to install... but most free scripts have intructions included with the script.  If your host allows you run your own CGI scripts... you will be able to do things you won't usually find on the CGI remote services.

If you are just starting out... it takes a brave heart to install and use your own scripts... but it can be worth the trouble.   Here are a few sites where you can find some very good perl scripts and tips on how to install and use them...

Cliff's Perl Script Collection... http://www.shavenferret.com/scripts/

The CGI Resource Index Programs and Scripts Perl

BigNoseBird.Com's Free perl CGI Scripts Archive Page



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