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Vol. 1 issue #23 Aug 15, 2002

 

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Top 10 Webmaster Challenges
© 2002  William Nabaza




Webmasters deal with a myriad of complex design challenges every day. This article will discuss the top ten challenges and provide solutions and tips for solving each problem.

  1.  Browser Compatibility You must design your Web site so that it is viewable on both browsers: Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE). Netscape Navigator is very strict when it comes to HTML tag completion, but IE isn’t. You need to view your site first using Macromedia Dreamweaver before publishing to the Web. Make sure you’ve run the command convert to ensure your site is version 3.0 browser compatible. If you’re using Netobjects Fusion to create the layout of your site, make sure that all layer objects are converted into tables. This is highly recommended if you want to reach a broader and wider audience.

    Online resources:
    A) Dr. HTML, located at www2.imagiware.com/RxHTML/
    B) Web Site Garage to check your links, located at websitegarage.com

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  2. .Graphics Optimization
    Web graphics play an essential part in your Web design, because it conveys the emotion and impact of your site. Always make sure that all of your graphics are in .gif and .jpg format. Unless your site deals with photography, minimize the use of the .jpg format. You can use Macromedia Fireworks to minimize the file size, especially the slicer feature if you need to place a large photo on your site. Another option is the export preview of Macromedia Fireworks. This allows you to remove unwanted colors in your graphics, thus decreasing file size.

    You can also do this online by using one of these online utilities:
    A) GIF Optimizer by Media Builder, www.gifoptimizer.com
    B) JPEG Cruncher and GIF Cruncher, www.spinwave.com/crunchers.html
    C) Windows-based graphics optimizer, CyberView Image Lite (JPEG Compressor), www.cyberviewcd.com/cvimage/index.html
    D) Advanced GIF Optimizer, www.gold-software.com/ago.html
    E) Photo Crunch (JPEG Compressor), www.imroncorp.com/photo.htm
    F) JPEG image compression FAQ, www.faqs.org/faqs/jpeg-faq/part1/

  3. Keeping the Site Fresh
    I think this is the bulk of a webmaster’s work, if you want your site frequently visited. You can keep your site fresh by really working on new content on a daily or regular basis and by making it interactive. As with content, you can make use of www.moreover.com, www.subportal.com, www.newshub.com, and other content syndication sites to provide the content for your site automatically. Let them do the hard work for you! If you place a tag, they will email you with new content. As for the interactivity, offer your visitors web-based email accounts, a message board with a chat room, a search engine crawler, and banner ad rotation. This is easy, and provided by Everyone.net. Searching your site is another way to easily provide information to your visitors. You can get a site search engine from www.picosearch.com and www.atomz.com.

  4. Pushing Information to Your Visitors
    A Web site is a “pull” promotion, but as a webmaster, you also need to be thinking about how you can “push” information to your visitors, users, or subscribers. You can publish an ezine on a weekly or monthly basis just to let your users be informed about the latest technology you’ve added to your site. As for the mailing list, you can get a free mailing list from www.egroups.com, www.topica.com, or you can choose a paid service such as www.aweber.com or www.getresponse.com. As for the content, you can get lots of articles from bbs.weblord2000.com, or try one or more of my articles that can be found on the same Web site.

  5. Driving Traffic
    Webmasters shouldn’t forget to announce your Web site. Accomplishing this is easy for Web sites that already have a lot of traffic, but even sites that are starting out with 5 or 10 members can benefit from the viral marketing of online recommendation software. Services include www.recommend-it.com, www.evite.com, and www.ewomp.com.

  6. Dealing with Spammers Unfortunately, the reality of the Internet is that people will spam and flame on a daily basis. Web-based email addresses like the ones set up by www.everyone.net are spam-proof. You can set up your account so that any emails sent without your address in the “to” box can be directed automatically to the trash or spam folder. However, flames and hate emails are a different field. You shouldn’t try to get even or retaliate. These people are not a joke. It might cost you your ISP or your e-life. Instead, check out www.spamcop.net. It does the nitty-gritty work of automatically reporting misbehaving people to their postmasters. Usually, it’s helpful to get the ISP, or at least the IP address of the suspected person.

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  7. Stickiness!
    Webmasters are also faced with the challenge of keeping their site sticky. CBSMarketwatch.com is a good example of a sticky site. This stock/investment related site contains timely news and excellent company data. The vast amount of information results in a good number of page views per visitor. Plus, visitors return on a daily basis to get the latest-and-greatest market news and stock data. Lots of page views per visitor AND repeat visits. now that's what you could call really sticky.

    Here are some additional suggestions:
    A) Make your site a portal of information. It encourages your visitors to return and stay. Hotsheet.com is one example of a one-page portal.
    B) Add games to your site. You can get some here: www.uproar.co.uk or at www.pogo.com/affiliates.
    C) Make your site interactive with a guest book, forum, tell-a-friend link, webring, customizable news, contests, polls, e-card, and free for all links. Bizland.com allows you to sign up for an account and place the code on your site.
    D) Provide links to freebies, get-paid-to-surf sites, contests, incentives, jokes, quotes, mp3, and gnutella. Just don’t forget to opt in for at least their email address before they can actually download stuff from your site.


  8. Find Your Web Host
    It's critical to find the right Web host. Although you may need to get your own server when your site gets one million page views per month, most sites that are starting out do not require the complex and expensive task of managing your own servers. There are many Web hosting providers that are willing to provide starting at 40gb of Web space. You can also look and compare different Web hosting providers on these sites: www.webhostdir.com, www.hostfinders.com, www.hostindex.com, www.hostsearch.com, and www.findahost.com. I always recommend the advanced search, which allows you to specify your budget and the specific features you will need.

  9. Think Globally
    Keep the site international in its appeal. Babelfish.altavista.com allows you to place snippets of code into your site that will automatically translate your English site to a different language, such as Spanish, Italian, German, or Polish. As webmasters, we must remember that we cannot filter countries on our site. We must be able to communicate with them.

  10. Search Engine Submissions
    Webmasters love to promote their sites on message boards, newsgroups, link exchanges, and even email, but they often forgot the best source of traffic. Submission sites like www.jimtools.com, www.weblord2000.com/submit.htm, and www.beseen.com can be used to submit your site for free. You don’t need to submit to all of them, only to the major ones, like Yahoo, AltaVista, Google, Hotbot, Infoseek/Go.com, Lycos, and Northern Light.
I hope that you have found these tips helpful. For more information, please visit my site, www.webtor.org.




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