Monday, February 28, 2005

Why Use Professional Web Site Designers For Your Next Web Development Project?

by: James Harris

Probably you know someone who has created a web site all by himself or herself. So if they can do it why use a professional at all? Can't you create your own business or organization's web site in your spare time and without the services of a professional web site designer? The answer is probably, yes. But following are some reasons why it may not be a wise idea for you.

Many non-professionals use WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web page creating software. While this kind of software is nice in that it's similar to working with a word processing program, many of these programs don't write "valid" HTML code. The problem with invalid HTML code is that while the page may look fine on some browsers (Internet Explorer, Netscape, etc.), it may not look even acceptably good on some other browsers or even on different versions of the same browser. HostTycoon designs web pages that WILL validate according to W3C validations specifications. (Try using the W3C Validation Service to test a web site that a non-professional has designed and see the results.)

For most of us, time is a precious commodity. Is it better to take the time away from your business and other activities to learn how to create and maintain an effective web site? You need to decide if you have the time to follow through on these necessary parts of web site design:

Learn HTML coding (it requires more than just wysiwyg web editing software)
Learn how to use the various software packages needed to:
create and edit web pages
scan or otherwise create graphics
optimize graphics
upload pages to the host
run telnet sessions
decipher raw log files to analyze traffic to your web site.
Learn good web design principles - design your pages so they load quickly, are easy to navigate and do well in Search Engine queries
Learn where to go and how to obtain a domain name
Learn what to do with the web pages once they are created - where they go and how to get them there.
Obtain several types of browser software to test your web pages for browser compatibility/validity.

Saving money is the main reason most would consider designing their own web site. But by designing their own, are they really saving? It's takes a substantial monetary investment to purchase the necessary software to create a professional looking web site. It also takes a considerable amount of time to learn how to use the various programs effectively.

Many business owners don't have that kind of time to spare and are usually better off investing their time in what they know best - running their business.

When a professional web designer is hired the customer receives the benefits of their business experience, artistic talent, technological skills and the expertise to help you establish a effective, highly visible presence on the Internet. They will work with you to analyze your competitions' web presence - their strengths and weaknesses. Using that research they will construct your web site based on your business strengths and the weaknesses of your competition. Your web pages will be built to load quickly, be user friendly, appeal to your target audience and encourage repeat visits.

About The Author
The author James Harris runs a company names HostTycoon. HostTycoon ( ) is a web design, web hosting & IT services company. We are a creative and very cost-effective business solutions provider for medium businesses and organizations.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Small Business Web Site Design – What’s in your name servers?

In one of my previous articles, I had briefly mentioned how the internet functions and how customers find out about your web site and your web pages. Today I’ll get in to a little more technical detail about what actually happens there.

Why is this important? Well, if you are not careful and one day decide to change your web hosting company, you could be in for a “pleasant” surprise. Read on to see what it is and how you can avoid this problem.

First a little background. When a internet user types in your domain name, the internals of the Internet actually translate that to a physical internet address. This Internet address is actually your web hosting company. How is this done? Well, to put it simply, this is done via domain name servers or what is lovingly called as DNS by techies. Essentially, all internet providers have tables that list out domain names and what IP addresses they correspond to. If they receive a name and don’t have the corresponding IP address, they will forward it to another machine and the process repeats till the IP address is located.

Now for the “tricky” part. When you register your domain (generally through a web host company), the name server (DNS) entries are listed as their DNS servers. So, in other words, your domain name is listed within their DNS entries. This is good, but WATCH OUT. Many web host companies do not easily give you access to changing this list.

Why would you want to change the name server entries? Well, if you want to change your web host, for one. The IP addresses have changed and now your domain name needs to point to the new web host (new IP address). Because of security reasons and because it makes sense, this can only be transferred from the “old” to the “new”. But if you do not have control and the ability to change your name server entries yourself, you could be in for a lot of trouble. Your old web host provider may not be so keen or may give you the run around.

This can be avoided if you have exclusive control over changing of the name servers. This is generally done when you register your domain name. So, as I had mentioned in one of my previous articles, along with controlling your domain name and ensuring it is registered in your name, you also want control of the name server.

A simple point but this will save a lot of grief in the long run.

Till next time,

Elvin Picardo
Delivering Net Results to Small Business
Author of numerous articles on web development and Internet Marketing for small business
10723 159th St, Surrey, BC V4N 3J1 Canada

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Building Your First Web Site?

by: Tim Querrey

Creating your own site can be a satisfying experience. Here are some tips to help get you up and running.

Before doing anything on the technical side, you need some kind of basic idea to work with. I suggest first getting some paper and a pencil. Start by sketching a layout of how you would like your web page to appear. For example, a simple title at the top, the area in which you would like any content, pictures and so on. Now its time to do some programing!

Don't let the word programing scare you. Anyone can learn and there are several sites that offer free tutorials. One such site is Although it is not necessary to be a top notch programer to build and operate your web site, you should learn the basics of html. I recommend that you thoroughly learn about tables. They are widely used and with them, you can create a professional looking layout (even as a beginner).
You can use any basic text editor, like notepad, to write, edit, and save your code (html). When saving your work for the first time, choose Text Document for type of file, then save with the extension htm (for example index.htm). Your home page (the first page people usually see) is normally saved as index.htm. To see how your page looks, double click on the file and it should automatically open up in your browser.

Now that you've got your web page ready to go, it's time to find a host (a place for your web page to live). Since this is your first site, I suggest you use Free Web Hosting. Some host will put advertising, such as a banner, on your site as the cost of free hosting. Others will only charge you to register your Domain Name ( Be careful not to accidentally sign up for extras such as url protection, spam control, etc. (unless you feel you need them) as they will add to your cost. These sites will have a limit on bandwidth (how much data that can be transmitted per month), email accounts, and maybe a few other things, but are still great for first timers. If later on you feel you need more, then you usually can upgrade. To find a host, just use any search engine and the keyword phrase Free Web Hosting.

Ok! You've sketched a layout for your web page, learned some basic html, coded your web page, found your host with the most (couldn't resist), and registered your URL ( Now it's time to upload (transfer) your file (web page ) to your host. To do this you need a FTP program. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. When using this application, there are usually two windows. The left window shows your computer files, and the right window shows the files stored on your host. For a good tutorial and to download a freeware FTP program, FTP Commander, go to
Now you should be up and running. But don't stop there. Continue to tweak, add pages, learn to link to other pages and sites, and frequently add new content. Who knows, you could eventually learn to profit from your creation.

About The Author
Tim Querrey is the owner of

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Small Business Web Site Design – Registering your domain

I have to write this because of a personal experience I went through with a friend of mine who I help off and on.

Scenario: I want to register a domain name so prospects and customers ca have a meaningful name to type in to visit my web site. I want to use this domain name to provide my web hosting company so they can host my web site.

Sounds easy, right? But beware. If you are not sure of what you are doing, you can be in for a nasty surprise. Here’s what you need to do to assure you are not caught unaware.

When you register a domain name, almost all registrars ask for the following information: Registrant, Administrative, Technical and Billing information/contact. Frequently, many small business owners do not know the mechanics of registering domains etc. so they leave it in the “trusted hands” of their web site developer or designer. This is OK as long as you tell them what you expect. And expectations are simple. YOU want to control the domain and want it registered in your name. I cannot emphasize this enough. In my experience with many businesses, I have come across this situation very often. The business owner has no clue who his/her domain is registered with and what contact information has been provided.

One of the easiest way is to go to and type your domain name there. The output from your search will show you all the details of your domain name.

If the contact information indicates anyone other than yourself, then ask yourself if you were aware of this situation. If not, it’s time to get things reorganized and ensure you control your domain.

In my next article, I will let you know another potential painful problem you may have if you are not careful in managing your domain.

Elvin Picardo
Delivering Net Results to Small Business
Author of numerous articles on web development and Internet Marketing for small business
10723 159th St, Surrey, BC V4N 3J1 Canada

Monday, February 21, 2005

Keep Your Web Site Content Relevant

by: John Metzler

Visitors and search engines love content-rich web sites, but just having a lot of content on your web site is not enough. It all has to be relevant to a main topic with each page or section of the web site having a specific theme (And yes, this includes any resource or links pages the site may have). Each page should have its own topic and content should not stray to a different topic.
If you are promoting your graphic design business and have a page on business card design, stay on the topic and refrain from using a page title such as "Graphic Design company in Vancouver, Canada - business cards, logos, letterheads". Your want the business card design to be the most important key phrase.

There are two main reasons for content relevancy. The first is so that visitors have an easy time understanding the flow of your web site. Visitors who have to search through multiple pages to find the information they're looking for won't be visitors much longer. The average web site user takes about three seconds to decide whether or not stay on a site. A clear idea of what your site is about should be apparent immediately, followed by easy navigation to other pages that display further topics in more detail.

The second reason for keeping content relevant throughout your web site is for search engine algorithms. Keyword relevancy is an important part of search engine optimization. The more relevant your web site's content is for a specific term, the more likely the site is to show up near the top of search results for the term.

Keyword density is another big deal with search engines. There is an optimal ratio of key terms to the overall amount of text that must be used for search engine optimization purposes. The more unrelated terms that are used consistently throughout the content will bring down the percentage of more important keywords. Keyword density matters throughout an entire web site, not just on certain pages.

Other areas to keep an eye on are the contact page, about us page, and any other pages that you may not think are important to have optimized for search engines such as advertising info, privacy policy, etc. For instance, some web sites have pages devoted to reciprocal links. There's nothing wrong with them unless you link out to a lot of unrelated web sites. The keywords that are used in the anchor text and surrounding description text will detract from your overall site content if they are not related. Incoming links from unrelated sites are fine, but keep in mind that the links page counts as part of your web site as a whole.

Consider using a reciprocal links page as more of a resource for visitors instead of a long list of irrelevant sites. This not only appeases search engines but your visitors as well. And as mentioned before, both visitors and search engines should be kept in mind when creating web site content.

About The Author
John Metzler is the co-creator of Abalone Designs, Inc., a Search Engine Optimization company in Vancouver, Canada. He has been involved in web design and web marketing since 1999 and has helped turn Abalone Designs into one of the top SEO companies in the world.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

How to use your web site to generate even more sales?

OK. So you now have a web site and are getting a few sales as well as have a customer list that you have started maintaining. The question is, how can you generate more sales or get more mileage out of the web site? Here’s a few pointers that might help.

a. Spend your time wisely. By this I mean that you should take on as many business tasks and activities you can handle yourself. But then, outsource the rest. For example, if my business load gets too heavy, I may choose to outsource the graphics creation; or the code development. This frees your time allowing you to focus more on your business giving you time to do some of the other things outlined below.
b. Sell a few back-end products that either complement your product/service or are unrelated but needed by most people. If for example, you sold car tires, you could sell rims, car polish or even portable vacuum cleaners. This can quickly add to your revenue stream as people who buy tires may also need some of these products.
c. Create an alliance with other web sites. Agree to swap banners and links on each others web sites. This works particularly well if you have complementing businesses and are not in direct competition. Each of you as a business owner specializes in something different but provide a comprehensive solution as a whole. As well, since each business already has a trust and relationship built, it will be easier to market complementing products to existing customers.
d. Join an affiliate program. Sell an entirely different line of products (perhaps related to your hobby?) to your existing customer base. However, be careful here. If your customers trust you and you have a good relationship with them, it may not pose to be too much of a problem if you come out sounding sincere. For example, if you market a certain type of fishing rod, but never go fishing, it may sound “fishy” (pun intended).
e. Use something like Google’s AdSense program. This is another fantastic way for you to generate more revenue out of your existing web site and traffic. Instead of me talking about it at length, it may be worthwhile to visit and learn all about it.
f. Have other businesses advertise on your web site. The only thing you need to watch out for is that you post relevant content and don’t offend any of your visitors by outing something in bad taste.
g. In the same token, if you have a loyal following of customers/subscribers that subscribe to your newsletters, provide advertisement space to other businesses within your newsletter. This is a highly targeted market that is often times the dream of most businesses.
h. Crate a “subscriber only” area on your web site for unique and highly relevant content. This is a great way to generate revenue if you can provide highly specialized content that your customers/subscribers are willing to pay for.

That’s it for now. There’s many unique ways you can go about generating revenue for your web site. Feel free to experiment. One of the beauties of doing business over the Internet is that it allows you to make changes rapidly as well as adapt quickly.

Till next time,

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Web Site Sales Copy – How To? – Part II

In my previous article, I had discussed how to get started with your sales copy. We had started on the top part of your sales copy which involved the headline, sub-headline, and some content.

Once you start getting deep into your sales copy, you want to start using the features and benefits of the product. In other words, you want to start answering questions that may be going through the mind of your user. Typical questions you should try to address are:

What’s in it for me?
What does your product really do?
How will it help me solve my problem?

When you start answering such questions, you always want to highlight the benefits the product will provide. Remember, people always relate and associate better when you provide benefits. Providing a feature list is good, but may not help since it will smell of “sales”. And people don’t want to be sold on the Internet. All we want to do is help them make the buying decision.

Once you have covered the benefits of the product, and the problem statements it will help solve, you move on to the price of the product/service. When it comes to the price, do not beat-around-the-bush. Simply state the price for your product/service, and explain why your visitor must pay that price. If you have done a good job in answering your visitors questions and showing them how your product/service will actually help them solve those problems, you will have no problem in converting your visitors into customers.

Sometimes, it may help to show a product comparison. However, do not beat up the competition. It may just show you in poor light. If you have done everything right and have the right product/service, you really won’t have to do anything. Too many details will often confuse and/or intimidate your user.

Finally, close your copy and ask for the order. You may have to “guide” your visitors into clicking to buy or purchase your product/service.

Here’s a few other “tricks” savvy marketers follow in “clinching” the deal.

a. End your ad copy with a discounted price. Just list your regular price and then offer a discounted price off the order ‘right now’. You could also offer a rebate that takes effect instantly. For example, you could say, "Instead of paying $99, you could order now and get an instant rebate of $20 - you only pay $79!"
b. You could end your sales copy with a free sample or trial of your product. If your ad didn't attract them to buy, maybe a free sample or trial would. If you were selling an e-book, you could give them a free sample at the end of your ad copy. For example, you could say, "If you're still not sure about ordering, download the first three chapters for free!"
c. Use a "P.S." at the end of your ad copy. This is where you either want to repeat a strong benefit or use a strong close, like a free bonus. For example, "P.S. You can get (product), worth over ($), for the low price of ($)!"
d. Create a sense of urgency. This works well with the discounted price strategy. You can say that I cannot guarantee the (No.) bonuses will be here tomorrow!" or “I cannot guarantee I will sell at this price forever!”.

Sales copy will eventually be the difference between a good web site and an outstanding one. Spend your time wisely in ensuring you have done your homework well before starting to write your sales copy. Else, you will only be wasting time and getting increasingly frustrated.

That’s it for now.

Till next time,

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Web Site Sales Copy – How To? – Part I

Perhaps one of the most difficult parts in preparing Web content for marketing your product or service would be the sales copy. This is because you have to take your visitor through the entire sales process without you being physically in front of him or her. Although people and made a career out of writing sales copy for other businesses and demand a lot of money, I will try and give you some tips on how you can create your own copy.

At the outset, you need to know:

(i) What product you’re selling
(ii) What problem is it going to solve
(iii)Who the intended audience is
(iv) How is the intended audience searching for solutions (keywords)
(v) What features and benefits does your product/service have
(vi) Why they should buy from you
(vii)How will you stand behind your product

Essentially, what am suggesting is that you know anything and everything that relates to your product. The more you know, the easier it will be to write good sales copy.

Even though there is no standard ‘format’ for writing sales copy, it is generally divided into long or short sales copy. As usual, there is always debate on which style you should use. The general suggestion is that if you sell just a single product or service, you need long sales copy. And of course, if you sell more than one product, you will probably need shorter sales copy. Remember, this is just a suggestion. Eventually, experience will guide you on what copy, format, style you should use on your web site.

Regardless of what length of copy you use, if you will almost invariably start with a bold statement. This is generally called a headline. A headline is always used to grab the attention of the user. Many people spend hours trying to get the right headline. This is because if the headline fails to capture the attention of your visitor, more often than not they will click the back button on the browser. Headlines are often used to leader generate curiosity in the user’s mind or give them a quick sense of what problem statement you’re trying to solve.

Right under the headline most web sites will typically put what is commonly called as a sub-headline. A sub-headline will aim to tell the visitor the second-biggest solution/benefit they will achieve by using the product/service.

A combination of the headline and the sub-headline should generate enough attention that the user is compelled to read further. This is why it becomes very crucial to instantly identify yourself with your visitor.

Now you will start building a relationship with your user. Even though, there are a variety of ways, perhaps the best way is to establish a level of confidence/credibility with your user. Typically, you will relate to the problem statement in your own experience or something very similar. This essentially tells the user why they should listen to you. Ultimately, you are trying to build a level of trust and comfort between you and the user.

When you start talking about the problem, you want to start using keywords that people are actually typing within the search engines. However, don’t go berserk and simply pepper your text with keywords. The text should flow easily and make total sense to your user. You may want to help with the relationship further by relating to the problem statements that you may have experienced yourself. A subtle dose of testimonials from existing satisfied customers will always help as well.

Ultimately, what you’re trying to achieve is the fact that the problem that you have identified relates so well to your target audience, that they sit and nod their heads in agreement as the read your copy. Essentially, they should see you as a means to help them solve their problems.

In my next article, I would proceed with how to conclude your sales copy.

Till then,


Monday, February 14, 2005

Web Site Ad or Sales Copy – Do I Need It?

If you have been surfing around the net, you will eventually come to sites that start looking similar. By this I mean, they:

1. Have something big and bold right at the top
2. Have words highlighted in different colors or that are emphasized
3. Have very few pages on the site
4. Generally talk about one product

Well, you’ve just been hit with a “niche” site and what you are reading is perhaps what is generally called as Sales Copy or Ad (short for Advertisement) copy.

Niche sites are the “in” thing today. In one of my other articles I will explain what are niche sites and why are they so popular these days. For today let’s talk about sales copy.

The best way to explain this is to relate it to a real-life situation. Let’s suppose you want to buy a watch and go to a store that markets different watches. As soon as you enter, a sales person greets you and asks you what you are looking for? Perhaps you were looking for leather jackets and are in the wrong store? If you are in the right store, the sales person will gently enquire on what your exact needs are? Once that is determined, the sales person will start showing you samples of different watches and will compare them by feature or by price. S/he will also let you know on other benefits/conditions like warranty, guarantee, return policy, and delivery. All this to make you feel at ease. In my mind, they are subconsciously taking you through the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire and Action) process. Ultimately, they want you to buy (Action) the watch. If the product fits your needs, you will buy the watch.

Now think of the same store selling the same watches in an online mall. Probably the biggest difference here is that there is no sales person to greet you and take you through the sales process. Which is why you need good sales copy.

The sales copy that you see on a lot of the web sites take you through a similar process. They start by immediately identifying a problem statement that their product attempts to solve. If the statement is not what you identify your problem with, chances are you will hit the “back” button. But if it is and it the statement grabs your attention, you will stay. Now, that the store has your attention, they will try and generate interest and desire.

This is done by carefully researching what problem statements people are looking to solve within that product domain. In order to build credibility, the copy will also speak about how other people with similar problems have used their product and how it has helped them. These are generally called testimonials and help a lot in establishing credibility.

Ad or Sales copy is one of the most popular means of marketing on the Internet. People who write good sales copy command a lot of $$ and are (frequently) booked months in advance. There is constant debate about whether you should use long sales copy or short sales copy. In one of my other articles, I will try and go a little bit into detail.

That’s it for now,


Thursday, February 03, 2005

Identifying Business Process Automation areas

Business process automation is one area that many small and medium businesses don’t take advantage of. In one of my previous articles, I explained briefly what business automation was and how you could use it. Today, I would like to identify a technique I use frequently to spot potential areas for automation.

When I visit a client, I will always ask for a description of their business process. If my client is not sure, I will start by asking what happens when a customer calls or when a customer walks in your store. This is an area that most clients are familiar with. This will always get them talking about the process where your salesperson will take your prospective customer through the process. I take notes and let my client talk.

I then shift the conversation to what I normally call as the “backend” process. By backend, I mean the process that takes over in converting your prospect to a customer. Most small businesses may fall into two categories. They may have no process and all and feel the prospect has enough information to make a decision. Others may have some process in place that may send a letter after a few days or maybe a phone call.

I also ask if they have a process to service customers on an ongoing basis. This is where, in my findings, I have found most small businesses just don’t have the time. They do recognize they should do something with the customers, when needed don’t have the time, resources, or energy to execute.

And this is where, I step in and let them know that these are the best areas for potential automation. Business process automation is simply automating your business process. The advantage of automating your process is huge. Not only will your process be consistent, but it will never fail. Automating your process using Internet technology will also reduce your costs.

So, how would we use process automation in the above example? Here’s a suggestion. When a prospect walks in your door, you must try and get a piece of information from your customer and will let you stay in touch with him or her. This is typically an e-mail address. Using this e-mail address, you will setup timed messages that will take your prospect through your business process. So this maybe, that you send a thank you note after two days, another article on the benefits of the product they were interested in after five days, and a special offer on the product after 8 days.

This achieves the following. Your process is automated, the cost is almost negligible, and you get to be in touch with your prospect behind-the-scenes. Using this process, your prospect might just end up becoming your customer.

Of course, once your prospect has become a customer, you then take him or her to an entirely different process that will continue to educate about the product and offer them special promotions or discounts, making them buy even more.

Business automation is very powerful, and even the smallest business can derive tremendous benefits via automation. I have highlighted just the basics in this article. The intent is to get you excited about identifying areas within your business that you can automate.

Tell next time.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Web Design using CSS

In my last article, I spoke about the benefits of using CSS in your web page. Today, I would like to briefly talk about how you can use CSS to control formatting in your web page.

Let’s suppose, for example, you would like to control how all of your headers (<H1>) display. For consistency sake, we want all of our H1 headers to be formatted the same. Here is an extract of CSS formatting taken from one of my web sites.

h1 {
color: #971111;
font-size: 2em;
font-weight: normal;
letter-spacing: 0.2em;
line-height: normal;
margin: 24px 0 0 0;
text-align: left;

Don’t let the above code intimidate you. It’s quite simple once you understand it. The intent is not to teach you CSS but to get you to understand it a little more so you can have a meaningful conversation with your web designer. If you look at the code above, you’ll notice that we have defined a colour for our H1 tag. We have also defined a font size, specified whether the text will be displayed in bold or normal, specified the margins that will surround this text as well as specified the alignment of the text.

Now, if we go to our document on the web page and simply type

<h1>This is good</h1>

You’ll find that all of the formatting detailed above gets applied to this text. The beauty of CSS is that this formatting and will be applied to all H1 sections within your web site. This will make your web site consistent and user-friendly.

Now, if you suddenly decided that you wanted more space in your left margin and you wanted your text to be aligned center, you would simply go to the definition above and change the sections. Once the changes are done, it would be immediately reflected on your web pages.

I hope you see the difference between embedding formatting options right in your text and using CSS to control it. CSS is a very powerful option, and what I have touched on here is just the basics. In my later articles, I will go into further details to explain to you how CSS can be used to control your layout is instead of using tables.

CSS is here to stay and the sooner you take advantage of all its offerings, the easier it will be to maintain your web site as well as provide a professional look to your users.
Till next time.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Make your Web Site Design fluid

In my last article I had briefly touched on your user experience. In that article, I had explained how your web site needs to be fluid to accommodate different browsers and screen resolutions. In today’s day and age, this is more of a norm. Yes, wouldn’t it be nice if everyone used just one browser and surfed on just one resolution.

A quick aside. What is resolution? Resolution (on a general level) to me defiens the fineness or clarity of your user’s screen. If you want a more deeper meaning of this term then I suggest going to and type “define:Screen resolution” (without the quotes). Although screen resolutions are increasing these days, the most common resolution is 800x600 pixels. It is still not uncommon to find users browsing with screen resolutions of 640x480 pixels.

Now, here’s the problem. If a web designer designs your web site for a screen resolution of 640 x 480 pixels, then anyone visiting your web site with a higher resolution monitor will see your pages as being too small. The text and graphics will be too small. Complicate it even further by now viewing your web site on even higher resolutions (which is getting more popular today). Now your web site will look really really small. Not something you want to show your visitors.

Flip this around and say your web designer builds your web pages in very high resolution. What will happen if a user with a lower resolution monitor visits your site? You guessed right. It will look too big on their monitors. Now they will have to not only scroll vertically (down) but horizontally (across) as well.

Can we prevent this? Well, the issue today is that most browsers attempt to build on standards, but don’t follow them to a T. As a result quirks exist.

Enter CSS. CSS is really an acronym for Cascading Style Sheets. CSS has been around for a long time but is gaining popularity now as the answer to most of the problems illustrated above. CSS has the power to separate layout from formatting. Let me explain this with an example.

Let’s say we were building a web site that had three columns and text present in all three columns. We could very easily go ahead and build a table that specified the three columns. So, for example, our code may look like this:

<td>My first column></td>
<td>My second column></td>
<td>My third column></td>

Now, if we wanted to put in some more columns, we would have to go and insert the necessary code for those columns. Now let’s take this a step further. If we wanted to colour the first column as blue, the second column as grey, and the third with red (bear with me here), we would generally go to each of the column definitions and specify the colours for each column.

Now, there’s nothing wrong in doing this. In fact, if you look around a lot of web sites actually use this style of development to build your web page. So, is there a problem with this? Well, here’s what I see. Let’s say, you needed to have three more columns in the first column, two more columns in the second and one more in the third. Now all of a sudden, your code starts looking pretty ugly.

To complicate this, let’s say we wanted to add more colour to each of these columns. The most common way of doing this, is to go to each of the column definitions (<td>) and literally spell out the definitions. So, you may have your code looking like this:

<td nowrap height="130" valign="top">
<font face="Arial Narrow" color="#336699" size="2">
<span style="font-size:14;line-height:17px;">
Here’s my text

Let’s take a closer look at the code above. The code that starts with <font face… tells us that we’re specifying formatting options for our text “Here’s my text”. Now, if we wanted to use the same formatting options for other text we would have no choice but to copy this formatting and apply it to other text. If you continue doing this, you will see and now you have mixed your formatting right in with your content. I think you’re beginning to see where I’m getting with this. You’re right. This becomes extremely difficult to maintain. Now let’s say no to change the colour of your text throughout your document. You will have to go through each occurrence in your file for the text “#336699” and replace it with your new colour definition. That’s not all. If you want to change to a different font, you have to go and change that too. Now do you see how complicated this can get? Talk about a maintenance nightmare.

In my next article, I will discuss the basics of CSS and how it can be applied to your web page.
Till next time.

Thank you for visiting - Please visit again.