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Is Your Website Ready For Prime Time?
By: Rich Smith
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    So you think its ready to go live. After all of the hard work you’ve done registering your domain, making hosting arrangements, planning your site, and actually creating the pages. Who cares if there is a section or two of the site that aren’t finished yet? We can fill in the rest as we go. The important thing is people need to start seeing our website. Are you sure? Is your website really ready for prime time?

    One of the biggest problems facing websites today is trying to attract recurring traffic. The key to most successful sites, is not only to attract people to your website, but to keep them coming back. Unfortunately, many websites are launched before they are complete.

    Imagine this, if you will. A new show airs on TV, the previews sound ok, so you decide to tune in and check it out. When it starts, you find out that it really hasn’t been completed. The props are cheap, the effects are lacking, and a final cast hasn’t been decided on so for the first few episodes you will see different people playing the same role. Does this sound like a show you would watch again? Would a television network release a show before it was ready for release? A cute little barricade sign with a flashing light reading UNDER CONSTRUCTION in the bottom corner is not going to make up for the obvious lack of completeness to the television viewers watching the show.

    This happens every day on the Internet. Individuals and companies alike are in such a rush to start getting traffic on their websites that they will put them out there before they are complete.

    With the expansion of high-speed Internet access, web surfers have the luxury of being able to hit many sites in the time it used to take to download only one page. What does this mean to the website owner? If your site is not complete, a small “Under Construction” image will not make up for missing content. The surfers that hit your website in this time will probably never return, even after you have completed the missing areas.

    The problem doesn’t only apply to websites that aren’t completed. The same problem exists for websites that have been finished. There are many areas that need to be taken into consideration and addressed before a site goes live. Here are some of the biggest examples:

    One of the most common mistakes on a website is spelling errors. Though they might be small, spelling errors are viewed as very unprofessional. With the wide availability of spell-checkers, there should be no excuse for misspellings on your website. Spell-check your content!
    Another common mistake is HTML errors. Although they may not be noticeable when you are testing your site, HTML errors can cause serious problems for your target audience. Not everyone uses the same web browser, and most of them have their own proprietary engines for rendering the HTML. Some of these web browsers may be very forgiving when it comes to incorrectly formatted HTML, but some are very strict. This means that something that your web browser allows might be a serious issue for another browser. So make sure that your HTML is properly written, and that it will work across all popular web browsers.
    Broken links present another huge problem. No, I am not talking about golf. Every spot on your website where you can click to go somewhere else is a link. And each of these spots is a potential problem. It is very easy to make mistakes with the links on web pages, especially when you are in the early stages of creating your website. But to a web surfer, who sees what looks like a cool link, clicking on it and getting a “Page Not Found” error is just unacceptable. Chances are, that surfer is going to catch a wave to the next website on the search engine to find what he is looking for. Check and re-check all links on every page.
    Are you planning on submitting your website to different search engines? If so, make sure it is ready for such right away. Make sure your pages have meaningful and descriptive titles, and that your META tags are properly formatted. This will greatly increase your chances of getting hits on search engine searches.
    Finally, you need to make sure that your web pages load quickly. I know that with the proliferation of high-speed Internet you may be tempted to load your pages with tons of content, but do so in moderation. It has been determined that the average web surfer will wait up to 8 seconds before going to another website. Keep in mind that less than half of the country has high-speed Internet access available to them. Less than five percent of those who it is available to, actually subscribe to it. Make sure your web pages load quickly, even for dial-up, and you will be able to retain visitors.

    There are hundreds of websites available to help you build a successful website. Some offer articles and guides, others have tool and utilities, and others contain libraries of existing code that can be plugged in to your website to enhance it’s functionality. Depending on the site, and what features it has to offer, there may be a fee to access the services found within.

    What is the bottom line? Make sure your website is ready for prime time before putting it on the air. Make your website is complete and error free, and you have the winning cast to make your site a hit.

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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