WEBBING YOUR WORLD II: GETTING FANCY AND GETTING INVOLVED
By Steven Savage
Archives available at The Way With Worlds Home Page
(thanks to Delphine and Netraptor for your help!)
Last week we took a look at the basics of getting a website together: technical terms, finding a host, learning HTML, getting graphics, etc. That's enough to put together a pretty good website.
But there's more. A lot more. I'm a programmer and webmaster professionally, and what's available on the internet surprises me constantly.
There are other resources on the web (again, many free) that will let you do all sorts of fancy things. These are things you could do on your own (with CGI programming, etc.) in many cases, but if you don't want to make that commitment, here you are! Remember these are not the only sources for these services out there, and resources mentioned last week (http://www.reallybig.com/, http://www.thefreesite.com/) can help you find more.
The old standby - counters obviously tell you and your visitors how many people have visited your site. The free ones usually require a small logo or other promotional item on the counters, but some sites apparently are selling advertising on their web pages, so when you visit for statistics, etc., you see ads.
Of course with so many possible choices, shop carefully - it's not so much you're likely to find a bad deal as to miss a good one. A few minutes of surfing will expose you to a variety of counters form various sources.
Some sites to try:
It's not the domain of fancy sites any more - now you can add search capabilities to your website for free (or for pay if you don't want to deal with certain limits or advertisements).
Most of these read and index your site regularly, and you just put some HTML in your page that calls their search engine. However, check the fine details on when these searches are updated.
Seach engines I've seen and used:
Want to know what your visitors are thinking? Put up a poll. There are, again, plenty of ad-drive, free websites to provide polls, and yes, most are ad driven. Like many services, options and limits vary widely, so shop carefully.
A few useful resources:
Another classic - have people sign a guestbook and leave comments and information. There's plenty of sources out there - and be sure to see if your host doesn't provide one pre-made.
Placing your own discussion forum on the web is quite easy to do, and gives a way for you and your visitors to have ongoing web-based discussions.
There are many free sites available, but take a close look at your site host - some provide free services like message boards. Why go elsewhere?
Some free sites to check out for Message Boards:
MAILING LISTS AND
We've all seen listservs and probably been on a few (and watched our email boxes explode from them). Well, a mailing list can also be a part of your site by establishing discussion or just a one-way list for you to announce changes on. There are plenty of services that do this, and also provide extras for community building.
Well your site is built, and you're ready to go. You even have your meta tags ready for search engines to find them. Maybe the site is up and running. You're done, right?
However, just how well designed is your site? There's been several versions of HTML, just how valid is yours? Are you using proper syntax and not just what works? Are those links you put to other pages still connecting?
There are several services on line to help you make sure your site is up to snuff in HTML, syntax, link integrety, and more.
To make sure things are working smoothly and optimized, try these sites:
Finally, once your site is running, decked out with gadgets, with proper HTML and stable links, you're going to want people to know about it. Web site promotion takes time, but the results are worth it.
For general information:
It can take a long time for a search engine to find your page, so give them some help. There are quite a few registration services available, many with free variations of their services. Don't wait for the webbots to find your site - give them some help:
These are sort of "metasites" - sites that provide information about other sites, as well as their own content. They're also great for networking.
Quite a trip, isn't it? Well it's a worthwhile one because, at some point, your world is going to be ready for visitors, and the web's a great way to welcome them
However, our trip through webwork isn't done yet. Now that you've got all these resources (plus all the ones you knew about before or found out yourself), how do you put a good page together for your work? What should it include?
Next week, we'll put it all together in Part III, in the exciting conclusion to Webbing Your World. (Ok, the conclusion, "exciting" I'm not sure about).