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Ten Hints for Better Websites
by Daniel Clarke © Copyright.

Here's a checklist of 10 ways to optimize your website for peak 
performance:

1. Load Time

It's probably the most important reason people avoid certain 
web sites and for sure one of the main reasons for lost sales.

The generally accepted maximum time for a page to load is around 
10 seconds. Here is a free service that tells you how long your 
web page takes to load:

NETMECHANIC
http://www.netmechanic.com/cobrands/FutureQuest/load_check.htm

Your pages should be no more than about 25Kb in size. To 
calculate the size of your web page, highlight the HTML 
document, then click on 'File' and 'Properties' and notice 
the file size. Then do the same for any graphics you have on 
that page. Then add those numbers together to get the size of 
that page.


2. Browser Compatibility 

You may be surprised at how your web pages are displayed in 
different web browsers or different web browser versions. It's 
possible that your web pages may not even be visible in some web
browsers. Display differences can be the result of how various 
web browsers (Internet Explorer, Netscape, Mosaic), or versions 
thereof, interpret HTML code or handle HTML errors, screen 
resolution, and the computer platform used.

You need to look at your website through other people's browsers. 
I do this regularly and, on occasion, I've been shocked with what 
I saw! Try this, it'll help:

ANYBROWSER
http://www.anybrowser.com


3. Browser Safe Colors 

The Browser-Safe Palette is the actual palette that Mosaic, 
Netscape, and Internet Explorer use within their browsers. 
The palettes used by these browsers are slightly different 
on Macs and PCs. This palette is based on math, not beauty. 

The Browser-Safe Palette only contains 216 colors out of a 
possible 256. That is because the remaining 40 colors vary 
on Macs and PCs. By eliminating the 40 variable colors, this 
palette is optimized for cross-platform use.

Here's a good palette of web safe colors: 

WEB-SOURCE SAFE COLORS
http://www.web-source.net/216_color_chart.htm


4. Broken Links 

About 4-5% of all links on the Internet are broken. A site that 
contains broken links gives a bad impression to visitors and is 
a frequent cause of lost visitors. Also, the major Search Engines 
and Directories may not list your page if it has broken links or 
missing images.

You can check your links with these free link validators:

LINK SCAN
http://www.elsop.com/linkscan/quickcheck.html

NET MECHANIC
http://www.netmechanic.com/maintain.htm


5. Meta Tags

What are meta tags? They are information inserted into the 
"head" area of your web pages. Meta tags, for example, can tell 
a browser what "character set" to use or whether a web page has 
self-rated itself in terms of adult content. 

The meta keyword tag is also useful as a way to help your page 
come up for synonyms or unusual words that don't appear on the 
page itself. 

The Keyword Tag should contain about 5 to 10 keywords that 
appear on your page. Never include words that do not appear 
on that page - in some Search Engines your website will be 
penalized for this. Do not repeat the same keyword - this is 
called 'keyword stuffing' and is also frowned upon by the 
Search Engines. 

Separate your keywords with spaces (not commas). This allows 
the Search Engines to combine your keywords into phrases, for 
people who do 'phrase searching'.

Here are some programs that will generate your Meta Tags for you:  

META MEDIC
http://www.northernwebs.com/set/setsimjr.html

MULTI-META-MAKER
http://www.multimeta.com/tools/multimetamaker.html 


6. ALT Tags 

What are ALT tags and why should I use them? You have a web 
site. Your designer did an excellent job and it looks great. 
You have plenty of images, including one containing your 
business name, logo and slogan.

Though your site may look fine, it's not optimized to score 
high with search engines. Since search engines don't index 
images, they won't index any text your web site presents in 
image format -- in this case the above-mentioned business 
name and slogan. To fix this problem, there are ALT tags, 
which are basically image descriptions.

Always add ALT tags to your images to make sure search 
engines recognize all the content on your site. ALT tags 
filled with keywords can also be used to boost your keyword 
frequency and help you achieve better rankings.

Note: ALT tags also make your site more accessible to visually 
impaired people using text readers. That's because text readers 
can't read images, but can detect text in ALT tags.


7. HTML Optimizer 

Another way to make your page load faster is to compress (or 
optimize) your HTML code. An HTML Optimizer removes all blank 
spaces in your HTML code and also removes certain unnecessary 
tags.

The result is shorter downloading / uploading time. Pages 
will appear in a client's Internet browser in exactly the same 
way, but they will be about 20% smaller. 

A word of caution: in most HTML Optimizers you will find an 
'Options' menu that tells the program to ignore certain parts 
of your code. Make sure your Optimizer does not compress embedded 
script tags - if they get compressed, the script will usually not 
work. 

ADVANCED HTML OPTIMIZER
http://www.pcbit.com/htmlopt/?htmlopt


8. HTML Validator 

Validating your HTML will help ensure that it displays properly 
on all browsers. Most of validator tools read your web pages 
directly from your site.

Always check the validity of your HTML. Some Search Engines give 
lower rankings to pages that have poor quality HTML (such as 
incorrect nesting of elements). 

Here are some free online validators: 

HTML HELP
http://www.htmlhelp.org/tools/validator/ 

BOBBY
http://www.cast.org/bobby/ 

WATSON
http://watson.addy.com/


9. GIF (or JPEG) Cruncher 

Shrinking the size of your images is one of the best ways to get 
a faster-loading web page. You can usually reduce a GIF or JPEG 
image by 40% to 50% without losing any significant definition or 
sharpness. 

SPINWAVE
http://www.spinwave.com/crunchers.html


10. WIDTH, HEIGHT and BORDER Tags 

The WIDTH, HEIGHT and BORDER attributes are essential for each 
image that you have on your website. When you hyperlink an 
image, always make sure that the BORDER attribute is set to zero 
(BORDER=0). If you don't do this, your hyperlinked image will 
have an ugly blue border around it. 

The WIDTH and HEIGHT attributes allow your page to load faster, 
since the browser knows in advance how much space the image 
requires. To find out the width and height of any image, just 
double click on the image file. This will automatically open 
'Microsoft Photo Editor' - your image will appear, with the 
width and height of your image (in pixels) displayed on the tool 
bar. 

================================================================
Daniel Clarke is the webmaster of TorontoBizGuide.ca .He wants 
to share with other webmasters how to build a successful online 
business. Subscribe for your free Newsletter at: 
http://www.torontobizguide.ca
================================================================


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