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Designing Your Website (Part 2) - Web Site Content

Web site Design : Basic Considerations | Web Site Content | Search Engines | Our Services

The most important part of web site design has to be the actual content on your pages.  This should be driven by the needs of your business balanced against the needs and expectations of your website visitors.

The content should be interesting and relevant enough to make people stay on your website and take their time to look around the site and be able to find the goods or services which they want.  However, you do need to consider the amount of information you provide on any one page as people will not scroll through long pages to find what they want.  Provide search and different types of navigation to help direct your visitors to what they want to find.

Adding Website Content

Website content can be obtained from various public domain sources and advertising flyers although ideally your website should contain as much unique content as possible in order to distinguish it from other websites and also to attract a niche customer base that will keep returning to your site for more.  If you are promoting other people's products, then don't just insert them as an advert - include some interesting details, maybe a review or background information, which will bring people to your website to find those products, rather than going to one of your competitors.

You need to ensure that none of the material you use on your website is subject to copyright restrictions (if you want to protect photographs used on your website for example, you can quite easily do this by editing the photo to include the website address emblazoned across it as a watermark).  You should also ensure that any files which you offer for download have been scanned for viruses and spyware before you add them to your website - this is essential to protect your reputation and also provide the highest degree of customer reassurance.

Whatever the source of your content, it is important that you carefully consider your audience and the type of content you will provide, including any videos, pictures, text and flash elements.  Is this suitable for all audiences, or should access be restricted in some manner. 

If you plan on offering any adult content on your website, you will need to ensure that the host provider allows this type of content and also bear in mind that some search engines will restrict your submissions (you may need to pay for submissions - see our section on making your site search engine friendly).  You should also beware that many search engines now provide the ability to search for images and videos based on the same criteria as standard keyword searches - it is therefore essential that you identify adult content clearly in order to protect the vulnerable and attract the type of visitor who is likely to be interested in your content.

If you offer videos on your website you need to carefully consider how these will be delivered.  You will need higher bandwidth than most websites (see our section on website hosting) and you will want to protect your content against file sharing.  Unfortunately you cannot easily prevent this as most video formats can be downloaded, or software used to capture the video as it is displayed on a users screen.  Perhaps the best form of protection (as well as including a title screen with a link to your site), may be to use Java video streaming as this is more difficult to capture and share.  Also please avoid adding spyware or popups within videos as this tends to put people off using your website.

Once you have made the decision about the suitability of your content, you should then submit your website to the various parental control providers in order to ensure that it is added to their lists and classified correctly as soon as possible.  It may also help to use tools such as SafeSurf to generate adult rating meta tags (known as PICS) to add to your website.

Parental Controls

There is no standard for controlling the content of websites on the internet and as a result it is all too easy to get inappropriate search results appearing in search engines.  This has lead to a dramatic rise in the number of people who sign up for Parental Controls services, such as the ever popular Cyber Patrol, Net Nanny and the built in parental controls functions provided by AOL.

When designing your website, you therefore need to give thought as to whether access to your website needs to be restricted in any way.  Most search engines and directories allow you to define the category into which your website should fall, but this does not necessarily affect the age range of users who can access the website.

Most of the Parental Controls programs operate by means of both keywords which are used to determine the suitability of a website and a white list of website URLs which are suitable, and a blacklist of websites which are only suitable for adults.  Depending upon the degree of parental controls protection chosen by the Internet user, your site may only be available for viewing if it has been added to one of these two lists.

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Net Nanny® 5.0

Net Nanny®, the world's leading parental control software, provides you with the broadest set of Internet safety tools available today.

  • Filter websites with adult content while providing age appropriate content for your children.
  • Control online chat (including AIM and instant messengers from Yahoo!® and Microsoft), time spent online, and Internet-based games.
  • Block file sharing of music, images, and videos.
  • Protect your privacy and freedom of speech online.

The main parental controls software is provided by AOL, Net Nanny and Cyber Patrol. Unfortunately, there appears to be no way for non AOL members to recommend or report a site which does not appear in the parental controls list.  This is a shortfall in their system and can only be circumvented if you know an AOL user (or become one yourself).

Net Nanny allows you to submit the URLs of websites, FTP sites and News Groups which have questionable content here - they can be marked under one of several different adult categories.

Cyber Patrol is probably the best known of all content controls software and is well known for both its home solution and business wide SurfControl solution.  Cyber Patrol enables you to submit a website for consideration by them for addition to its lists under specific categories - click here to submit your website for review

Top Tips

  • Consider the audience for your web site content carefully - do you need to register it with any parental controls software?
  • If you provide video, consider providing it in several formats or use a Java video player
  • Break your content into several short pages, rather than one long rambling page.
  • Ensure you do not use someone else's copyrighted content on your web site - either use your own unique content, or look for some of the broad range of public domain articles which are available on the web.
  • Consider how accessible your content is for people with sight problems or text only browsers
  • Consider how search engines will see your site - if you provide images on your site, are you happy for search engines to list the pictures or other people to use them on their own web sites?

The next page is devoted to making your site search engine friendly.  

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