graywolf - 6:49 pm on Jan 14, 2005 (gmt 0) Site Architecture Content Management Intermediate Ideas Have any other tips feel free to add them.
Making the transition from working for someone else to working for myself my methods for building sites have changed as well. I now try to keep things as low maintenance as possible. Here are my tips feel free to add your own
bad: example.com/blue-widgets.html, example.com/blue/widgets/index.php, example.com/product.php?prod=blue widgets
good: example.com/blue-widgets/ , example.com/blue/widgets/ example.com/product/blue-widgets
why If you want to change from HTML,ASP,PHP,JSP or some other technology to something different you'll lose all of those other indexed URL's. Sure you can play around with htaccess if you want later on but if you do it right the first time you wont have to.
All of your websites have custom 401, 403, 404, and 500 error pages right? If you took the time to make them once and put them in your default site folder they would. Itís also a good idea to put them in the base htaccess file as well. See the advanced error page section below
You use a favorite icon file donít you? When I come to a website that does it shows me someone cares about this website. Ok you will have to make a new one for each website but heck it only takes 15 minutes, right?
Get it set up the way you want blocking whatever rouge spiders you feel are necessary. This way you know itís there and only has to be tweaked to each sites particulars later on.
Youíre using CSS and keeping all of your layout information separate from the actual content arenít you. Say you donít have the time to learn, well you should. Once you get it and I mean really get it and see the power of CSS youíll never go back again. One 2 hour plane ride with ďdesigning with web standardsĒ and I was a convert.
Letís look at the contact form. It has some blah-blah copy and then some form elements. Separate the copy into one file. Put the programming that builds, error-checks and sends the form in a separate include file. This way when you build your next project you only have to worry about changing the blah-blah copy.
Have an include file with all of your common functions and site variables in it. Build a library of all of your functions so they are all there at your fingertips.
Chances are your top masthead, bottom footer, and side navigation only comes in one or two versions. Make them include files, this way when something changes you only have to change one file not four hundred. Be really crafty and define your site name, and site URL as a variable in your code re-use file , and then put the variable in your common includes.
Never display an email address on your website, only use a contact form. Ok thatís not always practical, if you have to display an email obfuscate it or even better use an image.
If you are the link trading type use an automated, submission and checking form. Get one that checks the links are up before accepting the submission. Make sure the links have to be approved before they are visible. Make sure it can periodically check that the reciprocal link is still up and email and remove deadbeats who take them down.
Set up a test page that has a brief static text message. Subscribe to or buy an uptime checking service. You can get programs to run from your home development server for as little as $30. Set up an email firstname.lastname@example.org that forwards to your main email that you check regularly. Have the monitoring program alert you if the test page is down. When you go on vacation redirect email@example.com to your alternate email, cell phone other device . Have all of your websites use one address so you only have to change one.
Have your error pages record the error in a text file or database. For some errors you may even want to make a form so the user can give you more information. Record the IP, session variables, or other info in hidden fields so you can debug them later on.
Check for people who are trying to reverse engineer your work. If you see someone with an ďallinĒ in the referrer record their IP and pages they visit. Store the info in a text file or database. Have it mailed to you on a daily basis.
How about setting a job or script that emails you all of the link requests, errors, and other pertinant info on a daily basis.
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Have any other tips feel free to add them.