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spacer There are many things to think about carefully prior to taking the plunge onto the web. This page has evolved over several such conversations with various friends and family members and, I think, offers some good advice. Please feel free to email your suggestions on how to make this page better, more complete, etc.

SO YOU WANT TO DO A WEB SITE?

Some things to think about, so that what you put out is not "taken advantage of":

  1. Never put out your social security number, drivers license number, birth date on your web site. If you are interested in giving friends the ability to buy you birthday gifts via gift services, such as Amazon.com, you can shuffle your birthday around a couple of days (so if your birthday was April 1, you could say April 3'rd or some such). Also, you should never post the names of any of your family unless you have okayed it with them first.
  2. Sit down with a paper and pencil and see if you can get a general idea of what you want to show and how you want it to appear prior to involving me. In short, if you can get a general view ready (colors, backgrounds, etc.), you will save your web site developer (and yourself) a bunch of time. If you do not have anything setup yet, visit my Redline Credits Page section to get a few ideas.
  3. All of your pictures/graphics/etc. should be in either .GIF or .JPG or .JPEG format. This will allow them to be viewed on the web with the greatest of ease for the greatest number of people/browsers. Most scanners and digital cameras already know about this and will generate it by default. However, some graphic arts programs do not, by default, generate these formats. You have to "export" to that format. Additionally, you can add various clip art. to your web site, if you wish. However, it is my opinion that clip art typically looks bad, makes your page slower to download, and should be used sparingly, if at all.
  4. How widely do you want your URL to be known? This goes into how much stuff you want to put in place on your web site, as well as how many search engines you have to inform of the existance of your web site. The more you want it known, the easier you want it to be found, the more work that has to be done.
  5. What is your tollerance for junk e-mail? My own tollerance is zero. Let me suggest Junkbusters.Com. Using their wizard, you get pre-formatted letters to Lexus, TRW, etc. to get you off of their junk mail lists, as well as you get a pre-formatted web page that basically copyrights your personal information and preferences for junk mail. This, I have found, cuts down on the amount of crap.
  6. Do you intend on having any "not for youngsters" type of pages? Here, I am not talking just about naughty/dirty pictures, but also foul mouthed language, discussion of adult topics (adultery, love letters, etc.) and the like. If so, there is yet another group you should go to to get "rated" so that kids who's parents have "kid safe surfing software" will not see it. Using the wizard at RSAC.Org, you will receive a small snippit of HTML/JavaScript code that you simply place on your web pages. If you have different levels of "adultness" on differing pages, you can get different ratings for the different pages of your web site. In any case, each page of your web site then gets this little code snippit. Those browsers that are then configured to look for it will know what is and is not appropriate to display to their users.
  7. What kinds of trendy "fluff" do you want on your web site? By this, I am typically refering to hit counters, guest books, Java applet games (punch the monkey, et.al.), and the like. Some of these affect what hosting service you use. Many of the better "free" ones will provide you with this sort of stuff. Others severely restrict your use as it drives up their bandwidth utilization. Up to you...

Additionally there are a couple of big design criteria that all good web sites attempt to embody in their design.

  1. Have something to say, a service or product to offer, or at least keep the site up to date. There is nothing that will turn off visitors more than having dead or broken hyperlinks off of your site to something that they want to get to.
  2. Be willing to change the look and feel of the site about every three months or so. This is typically eazy to do if you have a server side scripting language at your disposal, such as ASP, Perl, et.al. This can also be easy to do if you have a web site management package, such as Microsoft Frontpage 2000 , Allaire HomeSite or many others. These packages allow you to do global substitutions across many web pages in a single key stroke, provided you use their tools from the start. Unfortnately, these tools are rather expensive. There are several other free and or cheap tools, each with differing levels of support. Among the better ones are: Amaya (by W3.org), Arachnophilia 4.0, and ScriptWorx 5.
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The website "Redline" by Roland J. Stolfa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
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