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THE RIGHT WAY TO MAKE A CAR WEB PAGE     In other words - Sean reveals his deep dark secrets


So you want to have a nice web page that people care about?  I've
surfed all over the net and formed opinions on what I like in a
car web page.  Here are some basic tips for a sizzling
web page that people will visit again and again.

1  Make the pages load FAST.  
Ever watch a kid surf the net?  They want everything to happen 
NOW.  That means when they click on a link, the page should 
load up immediately.  Ever watch an OLD person surf the web?  
You better have the pages loading even faster.  Attention spans 
are short.  Most web pages take too LONG to load.  Here's how 
to make pages load up very fast...
  (a)  Don't throw full size car images at people.
       Let them view a small 100 x 50 pixel image that is
       clickable.  The viewer will click on the car
       pictures they care about.
  (b)  Make those small thumbnail pictures load quickly by
       reducing their file size.  Do that by making
       them .GIF format.  The next secret to that is
       making them 16 color .GIF's instead of the usual
       256 color .GIF images.  Ahaaaa!  Another tip is
       to make them "interlaced" .GIFs.  The little thumbnail
       picture will then "develop" in front of the viewer's
       eyes as the image loads onto their screen.  The only
       time you don't want to convert a .GIF thumbnail to
       be 16 colors is if it contains skin tones.  People
       look like aliens if you don't let them maintain their
       subtle skin tone shading at the normal 256 colors.
   (c) Do you get irritated when a web page is loading
       and you do not get to see anything on the page till
       all the images are loaded?   Make use of image sizing
       codes in your HTML.  That means to use the
       HEIGHT=??  WIDTH=?? tags where the ?? is the
       number of pixels your image is.
       When you use these sizing tags in your page, the
       text will instantly display onscreen, then the
       images will all load into place.  When a web page
       first starts loading, these sizing tags create a
       little box outline where the image will appear after
       the page fully downloads.

2  Change the content of the web page often.  
Even better, tell people right at the top of the page 
what is new this week on your page.  Make a schedule for 
regular updates.

3  Figure out what no one else is doing.  
Do that.  Do LOTS of that.  Let's say you have expertise 
in a certain area.  Maybe it's adjusting lifters.  Maybe 
you are a whiz at tuning carburetors.  Whatever you know 
most about, dive into THAT subject.

4  Make it easy to jump around. 
That means people should find it simple to navigate
through your menus.  They need to be clear and complete.
(a)  Realize your web site will GROW.  Make a design
        that can easily EXPAND without having to re-do
        the whole thing.

5  Draw a simple web site plan.  
It's easy.  Crank up your word processor and...
   (a) List all the .HTML page names and what is on them now.
       It makes updates a lot easier.
   (b) Next to each one, write down how many thumbnail images
       appear on that page.  If you have more than 13 images on
       a page, consider splitting it into two separate pages.
   (c) Make notes on what you'd like to add or improve to
       each of those pages.  Make them better as you go.

6  Invite feedback. 
I don't mean you should have a "Guestbook".  Those are 
too easily ignored.  Instead - Throughout your web pages, 
ask people for their comments.  In the text of your web 
site, ask people questions.  Give them many email links 
to follow that lead to you.  You will be surprised at 
how many people will write a couple sentences to you each
day.  Then follow up when a web page visitor writes to you...
  (a)  Answer every email you receive from your web page.
       People will feel important because you read their
       email.
  (b)  When answering email, treat it like a two-way
       conversation.  In your reply, ask QUESTIONS to the
       person.  That will usually lead to a pleasant return
       message.  That gets the ball rolling to making many
       friends on the net who share your same interest - cars!
  (c)  Make sure your web page URL appears at the bottom
       of every email you write.  Even better, it can be added
       to a SIGNATURE text file in most email programs such as
       Eudora or Netscape Navigator.  Make your URL "clickable"
       by adding the full web site address including the
       http:// part.  It will show up as an underlined
       link on people's email messages.  It's a fast way to
       encourage return visits to your car web page.  People
       can click the URL and "BAM!", they're on your web page
       instantly.

7  Advertise your car web site.  
Say a little about it in many places...
     (a) In Newsgroups such as  [[[ add names here ]]]
     (b) On whatever car email lists you subscribe to.
     (c) Make up business cards with a logo and your URL.
         Also have your email address on there.  Pass these
         cards out at car shows.
     (d) Write notes to clubs.  Ask them to insert an announcement
         in their next newsletter about your NEW or IMPROVED
         car web site.
     (e) Submit your site URL to all the search engines such
         as Yahoo, Infoseek, Hotbot, etc.  Then keep submitting
         your site to them every 90 days.  Most people don't
         realize that the search engines purge their listings
         at regular intervals.

8  Acknowledge people who help you.  
Basically, people like to see their name in print.  
If someone sends you a helpful email, add their name 
and email address to your web page.

9  Make the web page design simple.  
Avoid the newest fads of web page design.  Moving 
graphics are a drawback due to their slow loading time.  
MIDI songs are an annoyance to people with no sound cards 
installed.  Sound .WAV files take additional time to 
download.  Large graphics are a bore to watch load up.  
Frames crash some browsers are are a chore to bookmark
properly.  Scrolling messages across the bottom of the screen are
annoying to some people.  Keep in mind that the average person
does not posess the newest computer on the market.  Design things
so the average user will have a good time.  The average person is
using a 26,400 modem with a 586 Pentium computer running at 75Mhz.

10  Be funny.  
I like to write text so it appears the same way I talk.  
If you don't like that style, that's ok. At least be 
INTERESTING.  If you have a lot to say, keep it simple.  
More importantly, keep it BRIEF.  I seldom write more
than three or four sentences in a row without giving the reader
a visual break.  Throw in an illustration.  Break for a
paragraph.  Give the eyeball a rest, then throw in the NEXT
interesting subject.

11  Test it on humans.  
No animal testing here.  If you want a web site that 
captures people's attention, test it.  Here's how...
    (a) Set up your computer.  Log onto your web site.
    (b) Sit a person down in front of your computer.  Don't
        give them ANY pre-instructions.  Tell them to test all
        the links and pages on your site.  You will soon discover
        if you have any confusing menus or navigation problems.
        The person will stare at the screen and ASK you questions.
        Write down every question they have to ask you.
        Understand that your web site is not clear enough in
        these areas.  At the very least, you need to update the
        site to eliminate any navigation questions that the
        common person has.

12  Make a backup copy for safety.
Just make a backup of all your .HTML files at least once a
month...on a floppy.  Ya know, computers crash, ISP's go out
of business, FTP programs can malfunction.  At least maintain
a recent copy of your .HTML web page files.  I do that because
there is an average of 4 to 5 hours spent creating each .HTML
page on my site, including updates.

13  Have a visual theme.
For a more memorable web site, come up with a visual
theme.  The theme might be as simple as a small graphic or
logo throughout the site on all pages.  Think about television.
Do you notice the little CBS logo that stays in the bottom right
corner of the screen all the time?  That is a visual cue so people
can easily identify what "channel" they are watching.  You could
use a similar idea throughout a web site so people will always
remember where they are visiting.  Maybe your visual cue will
be a commom background that runs underneath all sections of your
web page.  Maybe it will be a particular headline style you
pick.

14  Remember to date.
If you make any references to an upcoming car show,
put the date.  But be SURE to include the YEAR.  Why is it so
important to include the YEAR?  There are about 50 billion
outdated web pages out there.  I have run across several hundred
announcements about upcoming car shows, most of which happened
a couple of years ago.  They don't list the YEAR.  Those outdated
web pages are responsible for many people heading out to a show
on the wrong date...last year's date!

That's all!

Here are some of Sean's STUPID BONUS ADDITIONAL tips for 
living life to its fullest:
(1) If you are hungry, don't throw out that old petrified slice of
    pizza that you just found in the refrigerator.  You can save it.
    Sprinkle some water droplets onto it.  Then microwave it on a paper
    plate.  It will come out moist. Good as new!
(2) If your car runs out of gas on the highway, don't keep trying to 
    crank it.  That will only make the car MUCH harder to re-start 
    after you put more gas in the tank later. Cranking a car with 
    no gas in it will only empty the carb and the gas lines!
(3) Fabric softener is not a good substitute for laundry detergent 
    even though they both come in purty colorful jugs.
(4) When a woman takes a car to a typical mechanic, she will pay 
    almost 50% more for the repairs than a man would be charged.
(4) There are two number fours.
(5) It is not wise to drink Mountain Dew at midnight.  The unwanted
    caffeine rush will sometimes last until 2am.
(6) For easier upgrading of your computer, NEVER put the metal case 
    cover back on it. Just leave the guts exposed to the elements.
(7) Never teach your cat how to press CTRL-ALT-DEL.
(8) In the dark of the night, a bottle of power steering fluid looks 
    just like a bottle of gasoline additive.
(9) No, it is NOT ok if your wife waters your monitor while attempting
    to water a houseplant!
(10) When speeding, if you pass a parked police car, don't let them see
    your brake lights.  Quickly DOWNSHIFT to slow down.  ...unless you've
    got loud glass packs, of course.
You probably need to search:
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