20 Rules Of Smart And Successful Web-development
» Mar 20, 03:45 PM
12 months. 12 months already…
A year ago I have started to improve my web-development skills and to share the knowledge I had with the visitors of my blog. Most projects and articles I’ve created or written are still popular in the Net – The Web-Developer’s Handbook has become one of the most popular web-sites since the beginning of social tagging, it was digged, slashdotted (twice), bookmarked by over 8000 + 3770 delicious users; the articles about my projects and articles appeared on SiteProNews, Lifehacker, Zeldman.com, 456bereastreet, mezzoblue, stopdesign and 274.000 other web-pages.
The funny thing is that as I was just realizing my ideas in the Web, I didn’t think about getting the page popular, tweaking its position in search engines or finding potential clients on the Web. The basic idea was helping people. First of all, helping me, but also sharing my work with people who might need it sometimes. And, essentially, exactly this attitude has provided and provides thousands of hundreds visitors on my page – per week.
Over the last 12 months, developing few web-sites, I’ve found out some interesting concepts and ideas which helped me to improve the quality of web design and information I present on my web-pages. Besides, I’ve realized some insightful facts I hadn’t know before. I’ve acquired a vision of what it means to create web-sites and what it means to create them well. Since this information might be of a public interest, I’d like to share it with you, presenting the key points in the list below.
So, basically, “20 Rules Of Smart And Successful Web-development” is my personal pick of the main ideas and concepts, which might improve the quality and popularity of your web-sites and provide a good foundation for successful development in the future.
20 Rules Of Smart And Successful Web-development
- 1. Respect your visitors. Don’t try to force your visitors to read the content of your web-pages. Let them choose and decide what they want to read. For if you have someting to tell, you’ll find your listeners. Frankly, you are as good as everybody else. What would be your reaction to a dozen of pop-ups and the overflown ad blocks? My point exactly.
- 2. Bad advertisement is evil. Disturbing ad blocks might improve your ad revenue for a while, but in a long run they won’t make your web-site successful. In fact, you won’t gain respect and explore the potential you and your projects might have. However, ads perfectly combined with the main content and placed well in the structure of the site (i.e. devblog.de) don’t disturb. Furthermore, thus both reputation points and ad revenue points are guaranteed.
Denny Carl from Devblog.de has placed Google Adsense Text Block in the right column. You don’t even see them at the first glance. And they perfectly fit to the structure of the site.
- 3. Inform and teach your visitors. Share your thoughts, ideas, experience and knowledge with those who need or maybe will need your advise. Since you have this information, you have a powerful instrument to draw public’s attention to your works, interests and services. Besides, if you share valuable knowledge with other users, you’ll be respected and regarded as a person who knows what he/she is talking about.
- 4. Develop your own style. Develop your own ideas. Let yourself be inspired, but don’t copy. It is far more interesting to find out what you are capable of than what other people are capable of. Explore your imagination and curiosity. New or improved old ideas are more likely to attract web users than the copied old ones.
- 5. Respect the standards. Think about people. Taking web standards into consideration will help you to save a lot of work in the future. It won’t take long until web standards will become a standard in the Web; and since you are creating web-pages for people, it seems to be reasonable to spend some extra hours checking the code and applying it to the standards – in case the code doesn’t conform to the standards. Once it is done, you don’t have to be worried about the new versions of browsers coming along. Well, basically because you’ve done your work well. Readability, accessibility, usability. Respecting them, you respect your visitors.
- 6. Be clear. Use a clear markup. Don’t be afraid to say what you mean. Ambiguity creates an unneeded distance between you and your visitors. Saying precisely, what you want to discuss or present, you start an active dialogue with your readers. Besides, if you specify, what you are talking about, you’re more likely to get feedback or an answer to the question you’ve posed.
- 7. Hate Internet Explorer if you like, but don’t ignore its users. Don’t design your code for special browsers or special resolutions. However, apply your code to Internet Explorer just as you apply it to other browsers. And although I, personally, try to avoid browser hacks, sometimes you can’t avoid them – nevertheless, browser hacks should be the last option. Internet Explorer might not be the best browser out there, but it is still used by more than 85% of web users. See #1.
- 8. Care about your content. Developing web-sites, try to make them informative, interesting and well-presented. Don’t forget that your visitors remember everything. Once you’ve offered them a link to some inappropriate web-page without proper description of what is hidden behind the link, you’ll never see them again. Code is poetry, your content is prose.
- 9. Don’t be concerned about web-crawlers and SEO optimization. Don’t think in keywords – far more important is what your web-site has to offer. Tweaking your search engine position will take much more time than writing a useful article in your weblog. Furthermore, if you consider yourself being a SEO-expert, you know that you’ll have to optimize you web-site all over the time in order to get better results in search engines. On the other side, if you post an article, it (hopefully) will be available as long as your site exists. So you have to write it only once.
- 9a. Avoid wrong SEO and bad PR. Incorrect search engine optimization (exchanging links with every possible site in the net, placing your link in link farms etc.) will sooner or later lead your site to banning from the major search engines. The algorithms search engines use are improving all the time, so in the end your efforts won’t be of any use and you risk to find yourself with Pagerank 0 above all the possible results you could ever compete with. Apart from that, once your reputation is low, it will be extremely hard to get a good position on the top of the web-dev-community.
- 10. Contact, but don’t spam. Let those who might be interested in your content, be aware of your content. First define your aim and potential clientele. Then take a close look at those who might be interested in your service. Think about the sites they are likely to visit. Only then contact the authors of these sites, describing the advantages of your services. However, keep in mind that you aren’t writing to a web spider, but to a human being, who can decide whether to share it with its readers or not, or – more significantly – to visit your site or not. Be descriptive; don’t send a link, send an invitation with a proper description of what makes your web-site different from similar projects. Make sure the person you are writing to realizes that it can be useful for the visitors of his/her site. But again: remember that you create not for your money, but for people. Don’t spam, don’t advertise, offer useful content.
- 11. Write, publish, feel free to ask. There are always plenty of web-developers, who were, are or will be asking the same question you have right now. Don’t hesistate to ask, don’t hesistate to find out. The more clever your question is, the more likely it is to be answered, so the more people will find your site through search engines.
- 12. Answer your e-mails immediately. Make a contact with your potential clients as quickly as you can – don’t let an e-mail just lie in the inbox folder for more than 12 hours. Don’t send auto-reply-messages. The person who has written to you knows that he/she has written to you. So don’t waste other people’s time just the way you wouldn’t waste your time. Instead, try to make an impression on the person who has contacted you. Reply with confident, professional, friendly and open style of writing, don’t promise, but – again – feel free to ask.
- 13. Use the advantages of Semantic Web. Tagging, tagging, tagging. Don’t be afraid of mentioning your site on Digg, Reddit, Furl, del.icio.us, Ma.gnolia, Blinklist and hundreds of other social bookmark managers. However, choose the tags carefully. The visitors will come. And if the tags are chosen rationally, even more visitors will come. You can also encourage your visitors to tag your articles in popular social bookmarks managers.
- 14. Make connections. Creative web-developers are always supported by CSS Showcases, Galleries and web-developers’ blogs. Some of them are mentioned here.
- 15. Think in global terms. The content of your web-pages might not appeal to the public in your region, but the frontiers of the Web are vague and hardly visible (if they exist at all); so why not send your message in the world? There is no need for searching a new niche near you if you have almost unlimited opportunities all around the world.
- 16. Never compromise your principles. Discussing the way a web-site should be presented or developed, respect your clients and their point of view. But keep in mind that you are actually the one who develops the site. Don’t do just what you are told to do. Correct mistakes if you realize that your client is wrong. Be professional – in the end your aim is to create a web-site for users, not for your clients.
- 17. Stay in touch. Keep being informed about what is happening on the Net. The Web is developing rapidly and new ideas are shared instantly. The best way to stay “tuned” is – of course – using RSS feeds of popular web-dev-blogs. However, graphic design magazines and web-development-journals like AListApart, BoxesAndArrows, Digital Web Magazine, Design in Flight, Poynter, Layers Magazine, Graphics.com are worth daily reading, too.
- 18. Learn to handle the creativity block. Searching for a new idea to pop in, try to browse through web-development-forums, focusing your attention on what other people are searching for. I.e. Sitepoint.com is a resource, which is visited by thousands of web-developers every day. Another option is… well, to take a break.
- 19. Make Web prettier. CSS, clear, readable and intelligent design are beautiful. How can you resist such a beauty? Participate in open contests such as CSS Table Gallery, CSS Zen Garden, Comment Design Showcase, Typography for headlines, Form Assembly Garden, sIFR Beauty Showcase. Thus you make the life of other developers easier, showcase your style and experience.
- 20. Be aware of the Power of the Web. You are creating the Web, so you have a word to say. Support the projects, which seem to be important for you and have to be supported, because their aims are worth fighting for. Makepovertyhistory.org is a great example for it.
The rules mentioned above won’t bring you any success if you don’t believe in what you do and don’t explore your creativity. Every idea can be the one.
This is pretty much everything I came up wuth during my train trip from Saarbruecken to Frankfurt am Main. Any suggestions, ideas? Don’t hesistate to comment!