web design resources
File Base Maintenance

File Base Maintenance

Teacher: Michael Bloch

Before you begin on designing your website, you may need to resort to pen and paper (aaaaaaaaaaargh) or a whiteboard for the planning stages.

Websites have a tendency to expand beyond the original idea, "growing" pages at approximately the same rate that rabbits breed! Taming the Beast was originally 4 pages, 6 years ago. It is now over 300.

By drawing a map of your intended website, in the same format as the Windows Explorer layout, (folders, subfolders and files) it helps you to visually plan and categorise current and future development of your project.

I have witnessed many times students believing that they would be easily able to "sort things out" after their site was finished. This invariably leads to confusion, broken hyperlinks and placeholders where images should appear in the finished product.

The root directory of your site should only contain one file, your home page (plus whatever files your server puts in there once it is published). It should be named either index.htm/asp/php etc. or default.htm/asp/php etc.. The reason for this naming convention is that most Web Servers are configured to serve particular documents by default. When you type www.tamingthebeast.net, the server is configured to automatically look for the appropriate files called index or default. This saves the user having to type www.tamingthebeast.net/index.htm. If I had named the homepage file, homepage.htm, it would not have been displayed when a user typed in www.tamingthebeast.net. A HTTP 404 error - File Not Found would have been displayed

All images in your site are best off in one folder, called images (how about that!) This central location makes it easy to manage your image files, and considering that some images are often repeated on a site, it is a good deal easier to locate them during the design process.

The basic guideline is this:

Relevant files should be given relevant names and stored in relevant folders.

Relevant filenames are very important. Give your files a name that relates to the content of the document. If you name your files, for example, 001.htm, troubleshooting problems in your rapidly expanding site can be a real headache as you will have no visual trigger to remind you of the contents of that page. Relevant filenames can also assist in search engine rankings.

Do not use spaces when naming your file. To create the illusion of a space, use_the_underscore_key_but_use_it_sparingly_. Do not use &,% etc. This can cause error messages in publishing, display and retrieval.

Name your folders in much the same way. For example a small business website might contains folders such as admin, contact, images, product, order and about.

If using a package such as FrontPage, do not delete or rename any of the folders that FP creates when you start a new empty web. These folders (and other hidden ones you don't see in the FP folder display window, but can see in explorer) may contain crucial elements regarding site functionality.

Following these simple guidelines will cut many hours of troubleshooting from your web development time.

About the teacher:
Michael Bloch
Taming the Beast.net
Tutorials, web content, tools and software
Web Marketing, eCommerce & Internet solutions.


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