Before we start, about your responsibility...
Properly designed and cared for, your website can bring you
and millions of other people endless years of joy. Unfortunately,
many web pages and sites are abandoned every year due to their
masters either losing interest, or losing control of them. These
poor sites continue to draw visitors, but instead of being greeted
by a happy and enthusiastic page, the visitors only hear the sad,
lonely cries of a site begging for attention.
Please be a responsible webmaster. Enjoy and care for your site,
but when the time comes, as it does for all sites eventually, be
sure to do the right thing. Advances in medical science have made
the process of ending a website both pain-free and humane.
Why is having an organized site so important?
An organized site means a happy site, and a happy site
means a happy webmaster. Happy webmasters tend to be
much more motivated and inclined to keep their pages
well groomed and up to date. Websites left to their
own tend to be unruly and messy, but they really do
crave your attention and grooming. This is just their
way of trying to get your attention, and your positive
Using proper organization techniques is important.
Depsite the emotional urges that strike us all from
time to time, resist the urge to use a rolled up
newspaper. This only results in a more aggressive
and harder to manage site.
With a little planning and effort now, you can prevent
more serious problems later on. If you already have a
mature site that is causing you problems, there is still
a lot you can do to undo the damage. Many times, webmasters
will adopt a site from its former master. Again, with love
and firm guidance, even the most recalcitrant site can be
made into a happy camper.
By properly organizing your site, you will find that it
will perform faster, be simpler to maintain, and ultimately
prove to be a better experience for your readers.
Preparing your site's living quarters.
The best way to visualize your website's home is as space on
a hard drive. The reason for this is that your website is actually
residing on a hard drive someplace! Just as you would not keep
all of your stuff in a single directory on your hard drive,
you should not attempt to keep your entire site in one directory.
Websites are happiest when they can move from room to room,
this way they feel like they have more space. Besides, there
are certain things they like to do that require a little privacy.
Setting up directories is a simple process. If you use telnet
to access your site, you can use the mkdir command (UNIX).
Via FTP, just select Create Directory and give it a name.
Below is a minimal, but effective starting floorplan to
The example above assumes that your main web directory is
public_html. There are many other names it may
have depending on how your server was set up. We are concerning
ourselves with what is contained in the web root directory. Here is
what sort of toys should be kept in each room.
public_html: This is your main directory. It
should only contain those files that make up the main
part of your website. My test for a page being on this
level is whether or not it is called directly by the
index.shtml file, and if it stands on its own.
It should also contain a robots.txt file to tell
spiders and search engines where not to look on
your site. This directory contains all of the directories
images: This directory should contain all of your
files such as JPG and GIF. If you also have a couple of
MID (midi music) files, this is a great place to stick
test: Use this directory while working on a new
page or editing an existing one. This way you do not
affect your real pages until you are ready. By including
.htaccess, you can also
keep spiders and readers out of it. Your site is entitled
to try on different outfits in private!
trashcan: Whenever you think you no longer need a
file, stick it in here instead of deleting it right away.
If it turns out that the file is in fact a long unused but
needed toy, you will know where to find it. If the directory
gets too big, download the files to your hard drive before
As your site grows and develops, you will find a need to add rooms.
Our general strategy for this is to create directories to keep related
information in. The tutorials are in docs, example
pages are in kits, and midi files are in midi.
An extra benefit! The server can locate files more quickly
if you use this method. If you have in total one-thousand files
on your site, the computer can find things faster if it only has
to search a sub-directory containing only two-hundred files. Oh,
the same applies to you when you are looking for something.
How long should I let my site's pages get?
This is a concern of every webmaster raising a site. Fashion
must be balanced with practicality and your reader's needs.
Once in a while, a more conservative webmaster will write
asking why we don't split up some of the longer pages.
BigNoseBird.Com is primarily in the business of providing
information to people. Extensive, well okay, fan mail
based research shows that people love to print out our content.
Therefore, to us, a page is one piece of material that would
be meaningless if not kept intact.
Keep in mind that pages seem longer than they are on the
big screen, and not so big hot off the printer. We also feel
people prefer to scroll up and down instead of constantly
clicking on links. The other benefit of course is that there
is less chance of ending up with links to no-where.
Files, files, everywhere I look there are files!
As your site grows up, you will find it hard to get it
to look after itself. No matter how many times we tell
our site to clean its room, it just won't listen. Most
of the time, you don't even know where these files
came from, well here's an idea on the subject.
This fine specimen is "Giffy" the Virtual Dustbunny.
Just in case you don't know what a dustbunny is, have no fear,
of course I'll tell you.
Did you ever move a couch or look
under a bed to find strange clumps of dust hanging around?
You know you never brought one home, they don't exactly look
like one of the kid's toys, and to make matters worse, they
seem to travel in large herds.
There are various theories explaining how they come into
being. One such theory widely promoted, is that dust
particles become charged with electricity, with
half developing positive charges and half gaining negative charges.
If you follow the logic that opposites attract, you should
end up with a dustbunny about five feet deep covering the face
of the Earth. Since we are not up to our noses in dustbunny
blanket, there must be another answer.
It is possible that they are in fact
intelligent life forms. Think about it. You only find them
in places we seldom go. If we remove them, they are back
by the next time we look in the same place. Look, the odds
are they are friendly. As you get ready to fall asleep tonight,
think of those little dustbunnies under the bed, and you decide
which explanation makes sense to you. Pleasant dreams...
The point is this. Websites tend to accumulate files. Moving
unused files to your trashcan directory keeps them out
of the way. This will make it easier for you to find your
real information, and also make your site faster. The speed
impact is especially great if you have a search engine on your
The easy way to a consistent site.
Yes, there is an easy way to keep your site from ending
up with sixteen personalities like Sybil. If your server
allows the use of Server Side Includes,
then you should use them. Typically this involves naming your
files so that that end with .shtml instead of .html.
My favorite reason for using the SSI is that I can change the
entire top or bottom of my files by just editing two files! If
I add or remove a link, or have a message I want to appear, I
edit my header and footer files and all of my pages are instantly
up to date.
Is my site getting too fat?
Over time, well we all can get a bit rounder in the middle.
You have several options available to you. Diet and excercise
are a good start. Stop and think before adding new material.
Ask yourself a few questions:
Will this information really add to my site's content?
Is this meaty graphic going to feel as good on my readers
hips as it did on my graphic editor?
Is it time to start adding new rooms to bring better
structure to my site?
Can I accept the fact that my site is just big boned
and learn to live with a lot of material?
Never, ever resort to unhealthy measures such as binge-purging
or using questionable dietary supplements. Only prudent judgement
and a balanced diet of quality content can solve this problem.
What other information do you have that might be useful?
A great deal of the information on this site is dedicated
to helping you create and maintain a great website. Pages
of particular interest to you at this point are: