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How To Re-organize A Website


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#1 Deverill

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 02:23 PM

I read Mitch's Jeering Jargon entitled "Website Organization and Accessibility" and thought this may be a good topic to add in the "Family Member's How To's" section. I by no means am an expert but I do want to share the experience I recently had the Uhem! pleasure of enjoying.

I am the webmaster of an almost 100 page website that I maintain for my church. The site started as 5 pages about 6 or 7 years ago and has evolved (mutated?) to mamoth proportions. I'm not even sure some of those pages even still exist but it's getting under control!

My pastor is one who does everything with excellence and he tries to instill that quality in all of us. That means two things to me: 1. the blob (insert shrieks and cheap scary B-movie music here) that exists can not remain and 2. I have to make it easy to adapt to new directions the ministry takes. Actually adaptability demands a clean site so the cleanup was born of necessity instead of some obsessive compulsion for order I may have (NOT!).

It took time but here are the things I did to make this happen:

First I looked at the overall site and decided the groups things belonged in such as:
General Info
Leaders
Ministries
Web Info

When I had my classifications decided upon, I renamed all my pages filenames to reflect that. Beliefs.htm became Gen_Beliefs.htm and Pastors became Ldrs_Pastors. This was the first and most important step in organizing the site. The only thing left unclassified was index.htm.

The next thing I did was to create classification "main pages". I created a Gen_index.htm and Ldrs_index.htm, etc. This gave me a chance to tell visitors about the overall category so they knew why they were at that page and so did I. It also gives a good way to link to all the sub pages without putting links on the homepage.

Too many links on the homepage is confusing and, as I understand it, hurts ranking in some search engines. Too many times I have created a homepage that looked like a site index - remember KISS - Keep It Simple, Stupid. A bit offensive but very true when speaking of my complicated web sites sometimes.

Anyway, I have all my images in a folder named "images" but if it got too confusing I could sub-categorize that folder to have images/General/xxx.jpg or images/Leeaders/pastorspic.png. Do not put images in folders with your web page code. It makes it terribly confusing and hard to manage... especially if you use the same image from several classifications.

Since I was using Dreamweaver and the template feature in it, all my navigation and title bars are separated from the unique page info by comments "Begin Template" and "End Template". This made the next part easier but it is not necessary to start with a DW template. To get to the part about "easy to maintain" I read all I could here at web hosting by Total Choice Hosting about PHP includes. Check it out in the PHP sections of this forum! Using the PHP include functionality I moved all of my header info (a strip of photos) into PicStrip.html and my navbar into Nav.html. I then created the template file for every page that looks like this (a few things removed for simplicity's sake):

<html>
<head>
	<title>Covenant Word Church - Key West, Florida</title>
</head>
<body background="/images/Backgrounds/fadebg1.jpg">

<div id="MainFrame">
	<div id="Header">
		<?php include  $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT']."/inc/PicStrip.html"; ?>		  
	</div>		

	<div id="Navbar" class="Header3" align="center">
		<?php include  $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT']."/inc/Nav.html"; ?>
	</div>

	<div id="MainBody">	   
		<?php include  $_SERVER['DOCUMENT_ROOT']."/Content/Min_Computers.html"; ?>
	</div>
</div>
</body>
</html>

This lets me use CSS-P and the div's for placing these pieces of info in the right spots. It also lets me change only the contents of the main part of the window by changing the /Content/Min_Computers.html file and not having to touch any of the nav bar or header bar stuff. Additionally, using CSS Placement, I can change so many things about the site to keep it fresh with minimal effort. If I want the navbar on the right instead of the left it's just a CSS file change. The same for moving the picture strip to the bottom or changing backgrounds or fonts. This stuff is great for future maintenance.

I don't know if you noticed or not, but the framing code listed above is in my main directory and the real page info (the guts of it) is in a /Content subfolder. I could break the main and Content folder up to the different classifications, but for now the naming convention is good enough to keep it straight.

We'll see how well it works out - in the next few months my pastor will be traveling to London, England as well as Ghanna and the Ivory Coast of Africa and we'll have a special guest speaker in the meantime so I'm sure he'll be emailing us photos "from the field" to put up on the website.

If you have any questions about any of this or how it is working out for me please do not hesitate to email me at Jim-AT-jimscomputing.com or use the webmaster link from the site at Covenant Word Church, Key West

I hope it helps, inspires or at least humors your web design experience and want to end this by saying a big thanks to TCH for being such a great host and to all the Fam for being so great! You guys all rock!
"A winner is simply willing to do what a loser won't."

#2 Wilexa

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 04:00 PM

Jim...

Thanks for the nice write-up. I am in the middle of somthing similar myself. My site has grown much larger than I initially expected, and now it's time to reorganize from the foundation up. :rolleyes:

I cannot agree more with your statement

.. make it easy to adapt ...


To borrow an overrused cliche, you cannot build a solid house (or website) without a solid foundation. Since most newbies have no idea which way their site will eventually go (me included!), it makes sense to lay a foundation that can accomodate any growth, new direction, or reorganization that may come down the road. But no one (well, almost no one) does it that way from the start. Just take the lessons learned during the site's infant stage and do it better for the next iteration. The pleasurable time (NOT!) spent reorganizing an entire site will convince one to structure things so as not to require such activities in the future.

Now for a technical question:
Since you seem to be renaming virtually every page, are you adding gobs of redirects to your .htaccess file or how do you accommodate all the orphaned links?

...Dave

#3 442GlenwoodAvenue

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Posted 24 August 2003 - 07:33 PM

Hi Deverill,

Just wondering if you view your church site with more than one browser?

Hope you don't mind, but I noticed a couple of issues with the home page:

(1) In IE 5.5, there is a large space at the left of each page. This causes a scroll bar to appear at the bottom, and I have to scroll to the right to see all the page. This occurred on everypage I visitied.

(2) In Netscape 4.7, there is text on the right that cuts right through the middle of a photo. What's strange, is that this photo doesn't even appear on the home page when viewing it with IE. Since I can only see part of the photo with Netscape, it appears to be one of the Guatemala photos.

Posted Image

(3)When I try to view the Guatemala photos using IE or Netscape, I can't. I get the message:

"Warning: mkdir(thumb): Permission denied in /home/cwc/public_html/MissionTrips/Guatemala2003/ChildrensOutreach/index.php on line 1602
Error: Could not create thumb dir - check write permissions"

Regards,
442

#4 Deverill

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 10:31 AM

Now for a technical question:
Since you seem to be renaming virtually every page, are you adding gobs of redirects to your .htaccess file or how do you accommodate all the orphaned links?

The only links I can find "out there" are to the index page so that's not a major concern for me. I guess I'm not being a good internet neighbor by doing so. Hopefully this will be the last restructure and it will also be solid enough for future expansion without restructuring.
"A winner is simply willing to do what a loser won't."

#5 Deverill

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 10:48 AM

442,
I don't mind at all! In fact, I appreciate the input.

I tried it with the most recent versions of IE 6, opera 7.11 and Firebird 0.6.1. Honestly I did not even try it with the older browsers.

"Only" 6.6% of my hits are from older IEs and 4.4% from Netscape it has probably not been a big issue over the past month it has been using the CSS-P, but it is definitely something I think needs to be addressed and since I am now aware of it (thank you) I will look at alternatives. I say "only" in quotes because any lost visitor is a bad thing.

This brings up a very good point about older browsers though!

The error you mentioned is because of a thumbnail/slideshow script I have started using. It makes thumbnails of the pics in a "thumbs" subfolder by using the graphing library of PHP. It's a really neat script but it seems like my thumbs directory keeps disappearing and I have to reset it. I'll look at that tonight too!

Thanks for mentioning it!
"A winner is simply willing to do what a loser won't."

#6 Wilexa

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Posted 25 August 2003 - 05:58 PM

Jim,

You wrote:

The only links I can find "out there" are to the index page so that's not a major concern for me. I guess I'm not being a good internet neighbor by doing so.


Although some people think that URLs should never change, the reality is that they do. If the only links to your site list the main page, good for you! :)

I would recommend that you watch the error logs every now and then to pick up 404s that 1) came from links that you couldn't find before or 2) that people had bookmarked.

Also, I am not sure, but I would suspect (caution!! wild guess approaching!) that your search engine rank might suffer a bit. I wonder what our famous SEO director has to offer on site reorgs.

Most importantly, though, you ARE being a good internet neigbor by offering a site that actually has "rich content" and a positive message. That is what people really appreciate.

Thanks again for sharing your experience. We can all benefit from each other.


...Dave

#7 Deverill

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Posted 27 August 2003 - 03:53 PM

Thanks for mentioning the 404 errors - I needed to hear that again.

Also, when the SEO Master gets a chance I'd be interested to know if not only 404's hurt rank, but do redirects also hurt it? If I were a search engine and realized I was being redirected I'd suspect someone trying to scam me.
"A winner is simply willing to do what a loser won't."

#8 kryles

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Posted 30 October 2007 - 02:32 PM

You can use @import to protect the CSS from ruining older browsers interpretation of the code. I believe they may actually just ignore it all together, so I'm not sure if the cost is worth it. Of course I could totally be off but I remember reading about older browsers ruining layout sometimes because they don't understand all of CSS rules.




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