The Ultimate Pontiac GTO Picture Site By Sean Mattingly. There's no bigger GTO image collection anywhere!
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
Attention GTO newsletter editors! Go ahead and reprint any of these Text Topics articles. Just give me credit as Sean Mattingly (Sean@UltimateGTO.com) at The Ultimate GTO Picture Site located at http://UltimateGTO.com