Understanding Web Pages

Hopping straight over from writing about setting up website navigation, Paula Wynne, is tackling an ongoing DIY (teach yourself) series on how to start up a business and create a website for your online presence.

So, what is a web page? What is there to do with understanding web pages? Seems pretty bog standard, you'd say.

But website pages are called different things by different people or experts. Understanding these terms will help you to build and develop your site web page templates efficiently and professionally for future SEO or search engine optimisation. These points must be understood when starting up a business site.

A grasp of the terms and how best to develop certain types of pages will be important as you become a little more ambitious with your website’s development.

how to start up a business and create a website for your online presence.
 

Sitemap

A Sitemap enables your website to quickly show search engines which URLs (the individual address of each of your web pages) are available for crawling and indexing. Wikipedia describes this as XML (code readable by search engines). It also shows the pages of your site which may not be visible through your navigation, or where content such as ‘Flash’ (used for animations and interactive features), is used.

Parents

Parents are the main navigation elements you see on most sites. They are also known as ‘categories’ and ‘primary links’ in some CMS systems.

FOR EXAMPLE: a ‘Parent’ on Remote Worker Awards would be ‘Enter’ and ‘Judges’. Parents are generally used as the main section pages.

 

Children

Don’t lose your children! ‘Children’ or ‘secondary links’ are pages that lead off the ‘Parent’ page. In the Remote Worker Awards example mentioned below you will see that each ‘Award Category and Judge’ has their own page stemming from the Parent.

Page Rank

Most systems give you the ability to rank or order your pages in your navigation map or menu. This is particularly handy to prioritise content pages in order of importance and relevance to your visitors. Some systems such as Drupal call this ‘page weight’.

Orphans

As the name suggests, these pages are normally pages that have somehow lost their parents. Most commonly, this is when you have inadvertently removed their parent page. Believe me, it happens, so do be aware of this if you have a content managed system. I encountered this problem when we were setting up the Remote Worker Awards site and had to wait a week before our developer could go into the HTML code, find the parents and reinstate them. A costly error!

Some developers also consider orphans to be pages that don’t belong to anyone in particular. They are also called ‘stand alone’ pages.

FOR EXAMPLE: they could be your terms and conditions page or other generic pages that are not specific to a certain area but still essential to your website.

Content, Static and Dynamic Pages

Content pages appear in the navigation menu at the top or side, depending on your navigation system. They are normally pages that drive navigation links. A static page, also called a flat page, displays information exactly as it is stored in your admin area and is therefore always the same page. Often, static pages are the ones that don’t have direct access through the main or sub navigation.

However, some hosted sites, such as ‘Pay Monthly Sites’, also use the term ‘static blocks’. These can be classed as ‘page blocks’ within the CMS that let you include content into your page template.

In contrast, a ‘dynamic page’ presents content that has been customised for different viewings. The content is retrieved from a database so it is only on view to the browser when searched.

Just to further confuse the conversation, sometimes ‘static content’ is part of another dynamic page, such as the panels used on iHubbub's home page to divide up content.  Sometimes it is a whole page in its own right.

An example of this is when you may have a page that normally you wouldn’t get access to, such as a mailing list form page that is hard-coded by your developer. Yet you need to be in control of that page’s text and so your developer has given you access to the text just above or below the form on the page.

I know your head must be swimming with these different terms and what they all mean, but this will get clearer after we have covered Free Websites and Hosted Websites. You can also find in-depth explanations in Google or Wikipedia.

Bringing The Family Together

Going back to the start of your navigation, you can now bring the whole fan-damily together. The old fashioned way to do this could be to lay out postcards on the floor. You can use one postcard for each section which is then numbered by area. Or you can use a superfast digital format in Word or Excel.

Now is the time to think seriously about which page does what and what goes where. In a sense, it is ensuring that each member of the family is living in the right area, under the correct roof and with accurate clothing.

Steer Through The Maze

A good way to research where your parents and children should be ‘living’ is to surf not only your competitors’ sites, but all good sites to see what they’ve done. Check websites that you found easy to use with a user-friendly feel-good factor to them - sites that helped you to get where you wanted to go in the fewest clicks possible.

The road to success is always under construction.

Use the time now to go back and see what these ‘good sites’ did with their navigation and how they steered you through the maze that otherwise could have been a struggle. Make notes of what they do well and where they fall down, if they do at all, so your navigation can be as good, if not better.

Read more about how to start your own website if you are looking at working from home in the future!

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