Continuing in the thread of website basics, it’s time to delve into a couple of additional facets of the online game. We’ll have a look at two website components, your navigation, and the images which you use to compliment your content.
The navigation of your website, while a basic component, fulfills a number of other functions as well. Depending on the visual aspect you desire for your site, your navigation can fill in an accent role in a color scheme, to being an active engaging portion of your site. But while you’re using your navigation to help make your site more appealing, you need to bear in mind that people aren’t the only visitors to your website, you have to think of the search engines as well. It’s not unusual to find new clients whose navigation menus have been built with fly away java scripts, animated roll overs, or even a menu built entirely in flash. While these elements sometimes provide a great visual experience, when the search engines are concerned your navigation menu is invisible. Many of the fly aways and flash aspects for your navigation can actually be written by CSS scripting, which is all text to the search engines, and they’re sole goal is to index text. When you’re building your site, or having it revamped, be sure to take the time and spend the extra dollar, and have your navigation built as much as possible via CSS. You’ll thank me later.
Secondly, the images which you use on your website is an important feature to bear in mind. While you’re building, or updating your website it’s good practice to pepper your content with images which can be used to accentuate your content for quick consumption. The number one point you need to bear in mind, is the size of the image you wish to include. The internet is often referred to as being a system of tubes, and if your images are too large, you can slow down your websites performance. A good way to keep your images under control, is to have your graphic designer provide you with a jpeg or a gif version of your completed image. Graphic designers often work with very large file types, and website owners try to upload these images directly to their site and then become worried why their pages begin taking much longer to load. To give an idea of how large some of the graphics become, it’s not uncommon to receive a finished image in the area of 40 megabytes and up. In terms of comparison, the average jpeg file is only a few kilobytes, it’s like filling a shot glass with water from a tap as opposed to a bath tub. The more appropriate way to be able to link your large, beautiful images to your website, is to embed the jpegs within your content, and create a link to your larger image, so that it’s not loading each time your site is brought up.
When you’re looking at building a website, there are the fundamentals you need to take care of. Do you have your content ready for the site? Basically, have you written more than just a few lines of your idea, have you actually fleshed it out, to make it meaningful both to your target audience, and to your ideal theme. Once you have the words, you need to take the time to get together the visual aspect, do you have your images? Are they clear and easily display what point you’re trying to get across? Or do they clash against your written content by not clearly showing what you’re trying to convey.
Once you have those two very basic points together, you need to then consult a web designer to help bring your dream to life. And it’s at this stage, that it seems that there is a general unknown aspect to the process. It’s not enough to have an amazing idea, product, or service anymore, you also need to consider two more, somewhat major, components which will make up your online persona. The first you need to consider, is your website address, or URL. Ideally, in a perfect world you could create your address (domain name) out of a keyword or perhaps two, which is simple to remember, and relevant to your business. The odds of this happening however, get slimmer each and every day with the ability of anyone to purchase any domain name, provided it hasn’t already been scooped up.
But lets pretend that you had no problems snatching up your domain, and now you’re ready to build. This is the key point where even a little knowledge can help your cause greatly. You have your content and pictures, you’ve managed to snag the perfect domain name, now you need somewhere to park yourself. Your own little corner of the internet where you can upload everything and make it accessible to the world. You need a web host, and as simple a step as that may seem, there are some points you can cover which will make your online life immeasurably simpler. Procuring a web host isn’t an insurmountable obstacle, and if you take the time to look around you can very easily recoup the costs of having a quality host. Web hosting works very similar to SEO on the cost to quality scale. If you cheap out on picking up a host, chances are pretty good you’re going to have issues with them. It can be anything from slow website performance, to improperly configured servers. Spending a few extra dollars on a web host can net you a fully accessible, fully configurable host with unlimited bandwidth, extremely flexible architecture to build your website with, and nearly 100% uptime for your site. Nothing is more embarrassing than directing someone to your website as your primary contact point, and having to explain to them that your site performs poorly, just so you could save a couple of dollars.