Managing a website is fun if you have the right skills. If you are
just learning the skills as a beginner, then you have come to the right
place. If you are an expert webmaster, then this might offer you some
different viewpoints as to how The-OnRamp.Net manages its web pages.
Where does one begin? Management of a website often
starts in different places, but I think we should start with the web
It is common, that an Internet Service Provider
(ISP) will offer personal web hosting for their dialup customers, and
commercial web hosting for both current dialup customers and non dialup
customers. The cost can vary from ISP to ISP, but the rates should be at
the market price if not a little less. Once you have found a web hosting
provider, then you need to consider your web hosting management style, and
that can be tricky based on your skill level.
following is intended to provide you with an overview of required skills to manage a
website from an ISP and existing web hosting customer's perspective.
Let me break
down the requirements into sections.
This is not an exhaustive list, but something that I
think will work for now.
The most critical part of managing a website is the planned management
of it. You can have a good or bad plan. It doesn't matter. A plan is
required. The plan can be created for a website setup, revision of a
website, or the migration and deletion of a website. Here are a few
recommended planning ideas.
- Design a plan that meets your time and commitment
level and keep that to yourself or internal with your team. Then, as
far as going out into the world and communicating your web hosting
requirements, consider the #2 and #3.
- Find a good ISP — look for smart and savvy
support, low downtime, and excellent speed and bandwidth.
- Find a good price — Not all ISPs are the same,
and price doesn't equate to a good web hosting ISP. The-OnRamp.Net
offers great pricing and great expertise to hosting your website. Try
us. You can just check out our site and see how and why we are the
number #1 ISP here in Northern Nevada.
The web pages that are located on a website need to be carefully
designed. The basics of web content is not that you are using the best web
development package, but you know how your website performs to the user
who has a connect speed of 26400 or a user who has a business connect
speed of 10MB/sec or higher. Your content should be designed to support
the low end connect speed user. Here are the critical requirements
that will guarantee satisfied users:
- Content should be simple to follow and concise.
- It is best to keep a standard format for a user
so they can become accustomed to your site content and learn to expect
content in one area versus another.
- Use colors carefully. Don't overuse striking
colors like red or bold text. Keep your color selection to 3 or less
and keep in mind how colors work with each other. Think of
complementary colors, shading, gray scaling, etc.
- Use punctuation carefully. Don't overuse
exclamation marks, semicolons or compound sentences. I once heard that
online technical documents, new briefs and such were written so an 8th
grader can understand it. That might still be the standard.
Most users will not wait for more than a few seconds for a web page to
begin to load. That is why is it critical that you know how an Internet
browser displays web content and in what order, but before explaining
this, you need to realize that above all else, there are restrictions that
will allow yourself some freedom in web page development.
- Keep your website average web page size to less
- Use the appropriate graphic format. Use GIF for
text labels and graphic images that can be viewed with 256 colors or
less. Use JPEG / JPG for photographic quality pictures. If you need to
show more than two JPEG images on a web page that exceeds 200Kb
combined, then consider using thumbnails of the JPEG pictures that
will reduce the page preview to 100Kb or 75Kb.
- Test your website on different computers and
configurations. Try using a Pentium II computer with 32MB, and maybe
an Intel 486DX computer with 16MB and see how the site performs, and
of course, try the site with a Macintosh SE, iMac or G3 or G4.
- Test your website using Internet Explorer 3.0,
4.0, 5.0 and Netscape Navigator 4.05, 5.0, etc on the different
- Design tables carefully. A browser when
displaying a table must load the entire content within it before
finding the close table html tag. If you have a long piece of text
that goes within a table, I recommend that you break the table down
into many tables (not tables within tables, but separate tables
stacked). This will allow the web page to load up quickly and appear
to gradually grow, instead of stalling and appear as if the website or
Internet is stalling.
In all, if you follow those 5 requirements, your
website should perform very nicely for the majority of the users. I would
encourage you to gather some friends or post to a newsgroup the fact that
you want some folks to try your website and see if there are errors,
issues in load speed, etc.
First impressions of a website not only includes how fast the page loads,
but how easy it is to navigate from one page to another, and find
immediately what the user is looking for in less than a few seconds. Most
people dislike change (I don't want to use a strong word like hate)
and if you continually change the layout of a website, then users will be
turned off. So, unless you are doing a major website revision, make your
changes subtle and planned so the users can expect to find things when
they return to your site.
This leads to some layout ideas:
- Navigation Headers — I recommend that you
create a header for a web page that is consistently the same so a user
can jump around your website quickly. Look at the home page for www.the-onramp.net
and see how the header always is located at the top with a link to the
home page, and while on the home page there is a refresh home page
Tables — Use tables carefully. As mentioned in the Speed section above
#5. Sometimes it would be more prudent to
- Frames — Frames when properly used can be
successful, but I don't recommend starting a website design with
frames in mind. Consider tables or something that matches the effect
you want to deliver to your customer.
Graphics — Consider placing graphics where they should be expected and
consider the number of graphics. That old saying, "a picture is
worth a thousand words", remains true to this day. For instance,
an online newspaper, graphics can be mixed with paragraphs of text; an
online graphics library would provide a matrix of graphic thumbnails
organized into different categories or libraries;
Banners — Position them carefully. If possibly, if the banner is related
an Affiliation program, then position it either at the top or bottom
of the web page, and keep in mind that what is the purpose of the
website. If it is designed to drive your Affiliate program, then be
creative and keep an open mind to how your users are going to perceive
the impact, location, colors, size of the banner.
Monitor / Screen Resolution — Know the screen resolution and color palette
of your users. You can program your web pages to record this
information so you can keep in mind the users who are running 640x480
256 color or higher. The Internet standard today is 800x600 High Color
(16 bit) resolution. The-OnRamp.Net is designed at 640x480 256 color
to support the vast majority of users who are not familiar with or
aware of how to increase their video resolution settings.
- Themes — Don't use them. Too much overhead. A
professional webmaster will find the right web publishing program to
keep the bulky extra web page code to a minimum.
& Error Handling
Websites can be designed with static web pages or to include client or
server side scripts which leads to programming. In managing a website, it
is important to know if there is or is not active content within a web
page before you begin to edit the site.
- to be completed...
- to be completed...
One cannot say it enough, but one must use the right tool to do the
job right. With website management, the following tools need to be
obtained, learned and utilized.
- Microsoft FrontPage — For the beginner to
intermediate user, I recommend this program, and also for the advanced
user who works with a mixed team of professionals who are both
beginner and intermediate webmasters.
- CuteFTP - To transfer files to and from your
computer hard drive, I recommend one of the two programs: CuteFTP
3.5.3 by Globalscape Inc. or WS
FTP Pro by Ipswitch Inc. These two trial ware programs are pretty
easy to download and use.
- HTML Specification — yes, this is a tool. If
you can read HTML code, i.e., the tags, then you are on your way to
really understanding all the concepts of managing a website.
HTML web page.
- PFE32 - Programmer's File Editor 32 is a great
utility for editing web pages.
When a website is properly tested, over 95% of the users and guests
will find the site easy to use. What goes into testing has a lot to do
with how well skilled and knowledgeable you are with the Internet surfers
and the programs one would use to access your website.
- Develop or create a testing team —
- Test using different computers —
- Test using different Internet browsers —
- Test from different parts of the world —
- Test at different times of the day —
- Test regularly, not just on release or on
In all, if you have a good test plan and follow it,
then you will be very successful and less stressed in managing a website.
Requesting and processing user feedback is essential in the management
and growth of a website. One must plan and expect to receive user
feedback. To manage a website, design in and continually monitor the
feedback methods that you have created. Here are some different feedback
methods I recommend:
- Online Feedback Form
- Guest Books
- Bulletin Boards
If you use any one of these methods for feedback, I
suggest you also consider communicating when the feedback is submitted
that if the user does not provide some identification like their email
address, user id, customer reference number, etc., then a response or
action is not guaranteed.
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