19 April 2004

 Issue 7

Lifting your website to its full potential

Welcome to Alcander's news letter - issue 7, bringing you, as usual, some interesting news and topics aimed at Internet users and webmasters. We bring you the usual Internet News (focusing mainly on search engine news), a look at some potentially award-winning web sites, provide some web design tips and take another look at visual-meta search engines.





AlltheWeb Database Dies! (But Lives at Lycos)

March 25, 2004

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Lycos switches to Inktomi

April 01, 2004

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Google Tops, But Yahoo Switch Success So Far

April 05, 2004

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Google's GMAIL sparks privacy row

April 05, 2004

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Amazon launches A9 search engine

April 16, 2004

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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 last in this series, and we are going to look at....

Bad HTML Style

a) Do not use "click here" to point to a document. One reason (of many) is that the visually impaired often get their screen readers to focus on the links on a page. They expect the link text to contain some context so they can decide whether the link is worth following. Even web users with all their faculties intact prefer to see meaningful link text - they don't want to have to read the context around the link. Secondly, many search engines place more weight on link text than the terms used in the body of the page. "Click here" tends to look silly on printed out web pages.

b) Consider usability when you name your files and directories, as these names end up in the URLs to your web pages. Avoid spaces in names. If you want to split up names, use a hyphen in preference to spaces, underscores and other non alpha-numeric characters. Spaces end up being translated to their hexadecimal equivalent i.e. "%20". Similar translations apply to all non-alphanumeric characters. The problem with underscores is that they make hyperlinks (formatted with the underline character) difficult to read. Also, use all lower-case characters in file and directory names. Finally, use whole, meaningful words so the URLs are more memorable.

c) Consider the visually impaired when designing your websites. The images won't have any meaning to them, but the devices they use can read out all the textual content of the pages. This includes the "alt text" attribute for images - i.e. by including good alt text, these users can make sense of the graphical content of your site. Similarly use the "longdesc" attribute for graphs and charts. Utilise good titles and page descriptions (also important for your ranking the with search engines).

Many web designers forget to test their site on a variety of browsers, monitor types, font and browser settings and connection speeds.

Note that Alcander's Web Promotion services includes a Site Analysis service (which embraces site usability). Alcander analyses include checking that the download times of the site are acceptable, validating the html (for browser cross-compatibility) and link validation. Additionally, Alcander makes recommendations on search engine optimisation services to apply to promote the site.




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 :

Jeff Soto Art

Since a young age Jeff Soto has been captivated by the visual arts. He credits early exposure to the work of artists Mercer Mayer and Patrick Woodroffe as stimuli for his creativity.


The Onion

A satire newspaper featuring world, national and community news. Also includes 'arts' reviews, comics, and advice columns.


Bathroom Heaven

Well designed site.

Science and Technology:

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Creativity :

The Sponge Pty Ltd

The Sponge Pty Limited is a graphic design studio in Sydney. The Sponge offer complete graphic design services including Corporate Identity, Web Design and Multimedia design. The Sponge specialises in creating a consistent corporate image.

Webmasters Resources :


A collection of web scripts , links to programming references and practical examples. The examples can be used as a reference or to help programmers to create their programs faster.

E-commerce :

Choice For You

Clothing, Electricals, Leisure, Home and Garden goods. Retailer.

Educational :

School Resources

Education information, resources and ICT for teachers and students.

Visual Meta Search Engines - Part 2

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. Last month we focused our attention on kartoo. We have surveyed the scene further and have come across another visual search engine called mooter, as well as the search applications which present search data in a visual manner, grokker and anacubis (i.e these latter two are not strictly search engines).

Mooter was introduced by Australian innovators in late 2003. Mooter claims to deliver relevant information within three or four clicks. Users start with a relatively broad search and then, stepwise (click by click), zoom in on more and more relevant information. Mooter uses "mootersearch technology" which claims to learn from the user on an interactive basis.

California's Groxis Inc. are the company behind Grokker. Grokker is receiving a fair degree of attention. Though it is not a search engine, it is an application that sits on your PC and takes the raw output of a search (e.g. it can use Google's search results) and organizes it into categories and subcategories. Again it is ideal for users who want to start out quite broadly, and be influenced by the results which come back at each level before refining their search to home in on sub-categories of results. Quite often users of search engines do not know what they are looking for (beyond some broad concept) as they do not know what is out there. Grokker gets around this.

Other visual/structured search tools to look out for are anacubis and touchgraph.