cil2008: fast and easy site tuneups.

jeff wisniewski, Web Services Librarian, University of Pittsburgh

intro – we should revisit the idea of massive site redesign projects every 3 years – smaller, incremental changes can be very effective.

1 it’s a matter of trust. update your copyright statement in order to communicate currency to users. update last updated script on each page. add a last updated script to each page. do it as an external script. java or php script that calls each page. this makes the site faster and updating easier. also, add photos to contact pages.

2 turn boring contact info into exciting hCards. microformats – an implementation of the semantic web where you take standard html and add tags that describes into in specific fields, like a marc record. microformat aware browsers will prompt users with the ability to add microformat information (for ask a librarian, individual librairans, etc) to their addressbooks. hCard creator is fast and easy to use – quick field fill-ins which generates doce. also, an hCard creator is available in Dreamweaver. 2 microfirmat extensions – tails and operator. enables firefox to read microformats.

3 click here…NOT! replace all instances of ‘click here’ with meaningful text. ‘click here for current articles’ becomes ‘current articles are available here.’ this makes the page less “scanhostile.”

4 harness the awesome power of the 3-question survey. surveymonkey, etc. examples – why are you visiting our site? were you able to complete your task today? if not, why? ask them for their email so you can follow up with them. create a javascript function that asks people why they are navigating away form the site.

5 don’t make your server think! change directory links to end in a final ‘/’.

6 web 2.0-ify your logo. characteristics – large sans serif typefaces, cheery colors, rounded edges. logo generation tools available – web2.0 STYLr creates logos. other logo and icon sites

7 the need for speed. improving performance and display – install Firebug and Yslow in Firefox (need Firebug for Yslow). gives overall assessment of loading time, etc.

8 cache cache’. get as many static elements as possible into a user’s cache. this helps loading time.

9 for server admins. server configuration file, set certain file types to stay fresh/not expire, such as image file types, css, js files, pdfs.

10 for the rest of us. step 1 – you should have a file called .htaccess in your server root. if not create one. step 2 – add the following code (see presentation slides, up in approx. 1 week)

11 combine small images into image map. yahoo research shows that combining disparate images improves download time. this is because the number of requests that go to the server is what determines load time, so reducing these improves performance.

12 eliminate inline scripts. in most cases calling scripts from external files will speed page download time, esp. if these items are cached.

13 except… for your homepage. don’t eliminate inline scrips from your homepage – using internal css script in home page only improved Pitt library home site download time significantly.

14 spring cleaning. tidy your homepage. w3c markup validation service. cleancss starts with original css file and compresses it.

15 move important information. move critical content out of the “blindness zone.” top right-hand corner is dead zone, “banner blindness.”

16 SEO: page titles. google webmaster tools. site ink > diagnostics > content > analysis > title tag analyzer. improves the way search robots find and index your page. global find and replace title tags with the following format – document tile | section name | library site name

17 add labels to your forms. to improve accessibility via screen readers and to improve mousability.

18 add social bookmarking links. use to generate html to paste into library sites, allows easier sharing of library content.

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