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Webmaster

webmasterSo you want to become a webmaster, do you? You’ve been surfing quite a bit, perhaps make a homepage or two, and now you’ve got the bug. Also, perhaps people have been telling you how much money you could make from the internet …

Cool. But being a webmaster means more than just using Frontpage and slapping up a site. No, it means you are devoted to your task, it means making your site meet it’s primary goals.

What are those?

  • Your site must have good content. Whatever it’s about, whether it be Star Trek or pornography, you must offer something that people want to see or read.
  • If your site is commercial, you have to remember that the primary goal is to SELL something. If your site is not commercial, then I presume you are trying to SAY something. Don’t forget this.

That’s it. You’ve got to offer something, and you’ve got to sell or communicate something. Those are your goals.

How is that accomplished?

  • You must offer your visitors a reason to stay on your site. Remember how easy it is to hit the back key and keep in mind how many other sites there are.
  • You must offer a reason to come back to the site. The web is constantly changing and so must your site. Static sites will die.
  • You must advertise it and promote it constantly using all means available to you. Use Metatags, the description and title tags effectively.
  • The site must load quickly. Remember that the majority of your visitors will be on a dialup line.
  • You must include good navigation.
  • Remember that most search engines will spider ALL pages on your site, so visitors can wind up anywhere. Plan your navigation accordingly.
  • Graphics are cool, but always keep in mind that unless your site is artistic they are not the primary reason your site is visited. Don’t sacrifice load time for graphics.
  • It’s a good idea to stay away from any exotic plug-ins. These are just reasons for people to surf elsewhere.
  • Remember Internet Explorer is not the only browser. It may not be possible to make your site work perfectly in all browsers, but it should at least look okay.
  • Generally, I follow the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid.
  • Test your links. Try and test them at least every couple of months.
  • Give your visitors a way to communicate with you. An email address is best. And please, respond to them quickly.
  • Keep an eye on your statistics. You need to know which pages are being visited, how people are surfing through the site and how they are getting there.
  • Keep your site legal. Remember the copyright laws, and don’t steal bandwidth.
  • Learn several HTML editors. Frontpage 2000 is okay, Dreamweaver is better, and simple Notepad (yes, I said Notepad) is often good enough.

And please

  • No more of the 900 number one page piece of junk sites. There are probably hundreds of thousands of these and we don’t need anymore.
  • No brochure sites please.
  • And everyone is so tired of multi-level marketing schemes, pay-to-surf or pay-to-whatever programs and all that other junk. No more …
  • Avoid ActiveX like the plague.
  • Avoid Java menus.
  • If you must make a pornographic site, use the various ratings systems and take precautions to keep out children.

Is there a “right way to do a site”? One webmaster recently gave a new webmaster the following advice:

You should do it the way that lets you have the most fun, and makes you happiest. All of our first sites, if we could redo them, we would do differently now. But we had fun doing them, and that is what is important. That is how you learn.

Of course, this applies to sites which are created for personal reasons. For a business site of any kind your primary motivation should be simple – get your visitors to your site, get them to buy something, and get them to come back. That’s about it.