Your Music Online -
Your Web Site
Part 2 of
Article by David Nevue - Updated
Back to Internet Music Promotion 101
now continue our overview of
web site design from part
one.This series is an edited (shortened)
excerpt from the
to Promote Your Music Successfully
on the Internet.
the Basic Stuff....
Oops, They’re Gone
of the most popular and innovative
web design technologies in use
today is called Flash. Macromedia
Flash makes use of high-powered
animation and pictures to essentially
put a moving short film on your
web site. Many sites use Flash
on their intro pages, and they
are very cool to watch. However,
the use of Flash does NOT sell
a product. Depending on your visitors’
connection speed, Flash can
take time to load (and in some
cases, it doesn't load at all). Impatient
web surfers may simply click
away from it. The use of Flash,
though very cool, may just put
one more obstacle between you
and your customer.
it relates to web site design,
you may have heard of a layout
technique called Frames. Frames
allows your visitor to view
more than one page at a time
within a single browser window.
The intent of frames, generally
speaking, is to simplify web
site navigation. In a common
scenario, a navigation menu
is displayed in the left or
top frame of the browser window,
while an ‘active’ page requested
by a visitor is displayed in
the right frame. Here's an example
this technology was first introduced,
it spread around the Internet
like wildfire. Frames became
one of the most prominent web
design 'fads' of the late 90’s.
However, most casual Internet
users came to despise them,
because rather than simplifying
navigation, frames made web
sites more frustrating to use.
Have you ever tried to bookmark
a 'framed' web site? It’s very
annoying. For this and other
reasons, most designers eventually
abandoned their use. Frames
can still be used effectively,
as in the linked example above,
but there's really no reason
to consider them for the design
of your own "official"
of the main reasons web designers
were attracted to frames initially
was because it made managing
web site content so much easier.
If you had a web site with 100
pages that all used the same
navigation menu, rather than
creating 100 navigation menus
on 100 individual pages, you
could create just one menu,
place it in a navigation frame,
and then use that single frame
in conjunction with all the
other pages. It’s much easier to change
one page than a hundred!
is a much simpler, more attractive
way to do this. Let me
recommend you research Server
Side Includes (SSI) instead.
Server Side Includes are easy
to use and will save you a ton
of time in terms of updating
content. If you have HTML that
is exactly the same throughout
your web site (like the navigation
menu mentioned above), you can
create a single HTML file containing
this code, and then use SSI
to call this single HTML file
and insert it into your web
pages as they load. Sound complicated?
Perhaps the best way to explain
the use of SSI is to show you
an example. Take a look at the
two-line menu at the top of
this page. It starts with Home
| Promote Music | Bookstore
| Etc... The HTML for that ‘menu’
is actually contained in a separate
file, a menu.html file that
contains nothing other than
the two-line menu structure.
I use a Server Side Include
to call and insert the menu.html
information where I want it
on this page. To do this, I
inserted a single line of code
which looks like this:
statement, inserted into the
HTML of my main index page,
calls the menu.html file and
displays it in the exact spot
I want when the index page loads.
I’ve used SSI elsewhere on this
page as well. The navigation
you see on the right-hand side
(the grey column) is also inserted
by use of a Server Side Include.
why use SSI? Because these sections
of the web page appear on nearly
every page of this web site. Now,
if I want to update my menu
or the right-bar navigation,
I can do so by editing one single
file rather than a hundred.
In essence, I can update over
a hundred pages (from the user’s
perspective) in just a few minutes.
Counters: The Pros and Cons
less common today than in times
past, people still do, on occasion,
wish to display a web counter
on their web site. I really
recommend you avoid displaying
a visible counter until you
are seeing a good deal of traffic
coming to your site. If you’re
doing a lot of traffic, a web
counter might help you solicit
advertising from your visitors.
If your traffic is low, however,
all a counter does is tell your
visitor how unpopular your site
is, which is rather bad for
business. So how do you know
how much traffic you’re doing
without a counter, you may ask?
quality web host will be able
to provide you with a stats
management program you can use
to view detailed traffic statistics
for your site. This service
should be free (included in
your hosting costs) and will
give you access to some great
information about your traffic.
you’ll be able to see what pages
on your site are most popular,
where your visitors are coming
from, how long they are staying
and what keywords your visitors
are using to find you via the
search engines. This service
should completely eliminate
your need to display a visible
counter on your web site.
you’d like my personal recommendation,
rather than using counters I
a third-party software program
that analyzes web site log files
that your web host can make
available to you. It’s fairly
inexpensive, and it’s an invaluable
tool. For a similar, but free
(and less feature-filled) alternative,
check out the “lite” version
Forms, Search, Chat, Guestbooks
seems like every day it gets
easier to add cool functionality
to your web site. Adding a search
engine, guestbook, chat room
or response form to your site
can be as simple as copying
and pasting HTML. In fact, the
process is becoming so easy
that adding these features to
your site has become almost
I’m looking for elements like
these to add to one of my web
sites, my first stop is always
the “Webmaster Freebies” section
Free Site. This directory includes everything
from chat and guestbooks to
graphics, search forms and counters.
I also very much like the tools
offered by Bravenet.com.
Careful with the Cool Stuff!
options, in terms of advanced
web site design, are nearly
endless. However, let me remind
you once again, more cool stuff
does not always equal a better
web site! Make use of these
tools only if it will simplify
navigation of your web site
(or add value) for your visitors.
with Your Scripts
you’ve found a super cool script
and don’t know how to get it
up and running on your server
you can have most scripts installed
for you for as little as $39.95.
Contact the Script
to Anti-Spam Your Web Site
One of the negative aspects of doing business on the
Internet is that you become subject to spam – those irritating e-mails from
people you don’t know advertising everything from stocks, real estate and
mortgage loans to (more often than not) certain unmentionable items, products
and services of the sensual variety.
Spammers find your e-mail
address all sorts of ways. Through postings you’ve made in newsgroups, chat
rooms, mailing lists, web forms you’ve submitted, AOL profiles, and even from
your web browser. Check out the article, How
Do Spammers Harvest E-Mail Addresses? for a detailed discussion of what spam-bots do.
One way to ensure you get spammed is to include your e-mail address on your web
site. Eventually, a spam-bot will come along, find that e-mail address, and harvest
it for the purpose of sending you spam later. Obviously, this creates a
problem. You need to post your e-mail address on your web site so that visitors
can contact you, but on the other hand, you don’t want to be spammed either.
What can you do?
While I don’t think you can ever 100% spam-proof yourself, you can make it more
difficult for spam-bots to harvest your address from your web site. One of the
most common ways to thwart spam-bots is to encode the text of your e-mail
address. The simplest way to do that is to replace the “@” sign in your e-mail
address with the ASCII character equivalent.
For example, instead of using mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org in your HTML for an
use this: mail to:email@example.com
To a browser interpreting HTML, “@” is the same as the “@” sign and it
will display it as such to the reader. So even though you use different
characters in your text, the browser will still recognize this code as an
e-mail link. Spam-bots, on the other hand, tend to key in on the “@” character
and in most cases will ignore the “@”.
While this method of hiding your e-mail address on a web page is hardly full-proof,
it does work in most instances.
is of utmost importance to ensure
your site is functioning speedily
and without any breakdown in
site navigation. There are a
number of online site utilities
available to help you maintain
your site without taking up
a lot of your time. Here are
a few of my favorites:
find a billion other site management
tools - many of them free
- in ZDNet's
this ends part two of this
discusson on web site design.
What you've been reading is
an edited (shortened) excerpt from the
to Promote Your Music Successfully
on the Internet. For more
on web site design, read Part
is the founder of The
Music Biz Academy
Solo Piano Radio. He is also a professional pianist,
recording artist, full-time Internet musician, and author of the book, "How to Promote Your Music Successfully on the Internet."