19 March 2004

 Issue 6

Lifting your website to its full potential

Welcome to Alcander's news letter - issue 6, bringing you, as usual, some interesting news and topics aimed at Internet users and webmasters.





Major changes for Yahoo, and it is no longer dependent on Google.


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Ask Jeeves has bought Interactive Search Holdings, the owners of the Excite search engine and Web portal.


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Learn how to achieve success with your Web site using the power of the search engines. The Robin Nobles and John Alexander Workshop is being brought to London.


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New Software Tames Web Searches, Speeds Publishing


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Web voice technologies get W3C go-ahead


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Improved Customer Retention through design.

In our first 7 issues, we look at the 7 BIG mistakes in web design. We've now reached the sixth in this series, and we are going to look at....

Unstructured Planning

In website design, planning is key, and all too often, webmasters attempt to design sites "backwards." It is tempting to surf the web looking for animations, graphics and special effects, thinking they would make additions to a site. Too many bells and whistles are not a good idea, especially if the technology behind them has not been mastered. They can be detrimental to the down-load time of the pages where they are included, and they may not work in all versions of all browsers.
If possible, test your website first without the "bells and whistles" and then with them included, to gain an appreciation of the difference they make to your site. You can then reflect on which ones you think are really worth the extra wait (or "weight"). Consider whether you would prefer to spend money on particular technological features (and their maintenance) or whether you would be better off spending that money on advertising and promotion of your website. Also consider whether your hosting service can provide you with sufficient bandwidth to support the traffic you expect to get.
Websites should be built from the ground up, concentrating on the consistency and commonality between the pages such as a uniform navigation structure. Though web audiences expect some graphical content, they also expect shorter units of textual content, well linked and with little need to scroll.




If we ran a web award scheme, we would give out awards to the following web sites. We have placed each "award" in one of 8 categories. Who knows, one day we may run an official awards website. One way of getting ideas for compelling websites is to look for inspiration from other compelling websites. The categories below are subject to change.

Arts & Entertainment :

INKSURGE are highly passionate in creating visual arts as a way to communicate and contribute to the design scene.



Humour and Satire


Daimler Chrysler

Genealogy maps and clan crest merchandise

Science and Technology:

SciCentral Gateway to the best scientific research news sources

Creativity :


Take a look at their excellent use of JavaScript for both aesthetic and practical purposes.

Webmasters Resources :


ASP, Perl, Javascript and PHP resources for Web Masters.

E-commerce :


Clothing & fashion retailer who bestow an excellent customer experience.

Educational :

Education World

A "home" for educators. Where teachers can gather and share ideas.

Visual Meta Search Engines

Why restrict your searching to Google? Each month we look at other ways of searching the Internet.

By "visual search engines", we are talking about search engines which arrange results graphically and in such a way that additional information, such as relevance and related topics can be viewed at a glance. The leading visual (meta) search engine has to be Kartoo. It selects the most relevant search engines to perform your search and then displays the results as a map. The map is arranged according to the relevance of the results and by hovering over each "page" of results (represented by an icon shaped like a floating page from a book) the relevant, related keywords are highlighted. This facilitates refining of the search to initiate related enquiries.
Another visual search engine, which follows similar principles to Kartoo, is called VisIT (developed at the Beckman Institute of Advanced Science). It differs from Kartoo, however, in that it allows its users to manipulate the search results and it also facilitates the results to be shared with others.VisIT is a knowledge management tool, aimed at Internet and intranet research.


Read about terms or definitions before we get around to putting them in our knowledgebase (

Web Portal : A Web site or service that provides a 'one-stop shop', access to a broad range of resources and services. Examples include e-mail, search engines, forums and on-line shopping malls. One of the first examples of a web portal is AOL, a provider of online services. Many of the major search engines have now become web portals in order to reach a broader audience.