Considerations when building your own site


I would say that the main consideration when building your own site is to be able to view it as a stranger. Design your site to look like one you would have been pleased to find while cruising the web for interesting and informative Kyokushin sites. Don't let your newly discovered skills and enthusiasm with HTML or Photoshop carry you away in raptures of inappropriate design decisions.

There are probably several dozen things to consider when producing your own site. I won't try to address, or even list, them all. However, you might consider having a look at the website Web pages that suck, which discusses good and bad web design in some detail. Most issues can be divided into one of two categories, thought there might well be some overlap. The two categories are general web design issues and specific content issues.

Cross-platform/cross browser/scalability.
Try NOT to design your site for just one operating system or one browser. Nothing's more annoying than having a site that says "this site has been designed for Internet Explorer 6.28 with 800x600 screen resolution and 16M colours" etc... What if I don't have a screen like that? What if I'm using Linux, for which there's no IE? Sure, most people have the required specs on their computers these days, but there's no point in aiding Mr. Gates in his quest for world domination. Make it portable and scalable, or at least make it so that it will still look good if someone doesn't have a computer with the same specs as the one on which you designed it. Try it out on different computers and different browsers as well.
Be consistent throughout the site. Don't change backgrounds and fonts and colours randomly and drastically. By being consistent, people will know that they're still on your site, and haven't been jumped somewhere else.
Spelling and Grammar
Sure, I tell people on the discussion board that they shouldn't be telling people how to write and talk. However, that admonition does not apply to a website designer. It's annoying, at the very least, to read stuff on a site that COULD be interesting but for the fact that it's full of spelling mistakes! I'm not talking about finger faults, or rather, "fniger faults" - that sort of stuff happens all the time, there are probably a even few on this page. Nor am I talking about the the "colour" vs "color" or "sympathise" vs "sympathize". That's a linguistic variation.
It's those words that are actually wrong, but people just can't, or won't, make the effort to remember, to spell them correctly. A few commonly wrong words are: seperate, definate, arguement, presumeably, accomodate, amature, and anything ending in -full, when the "full" doesn't mean "not empty". Then there are the misspelt/misspelled words that actually mean something else if you misspell them e.g. effluent/affluent, effect/affect, loose/lose. Another often hilarious group of mistakes can be found with homonyms, i.e. words that sound the same but are spelt differently e.g. stationary/stationery, allowed/aloud. Among of the funnier instances I've seen of this is on a websites where someone was expounding on what many Americans see as a fundamental to their existence, to wit, the right to bare arms". Sure, a lot of sites make fun of this pun, but there are others that are meant to be quite serious, but just lose it a bit because of this error. Here's another one.

Then there are the grammatical issues e.g. "people that train in the martial arts", "there's a lot of people in my dojo". "its very hard to train for black belt", "with who are you fighting". The one I find the most hilarious (and annoying) goes something like "Hey, I really like your sight!" Sure, English is a living and evolving language, but that doesn't mean it has to be allowed to mutate so rapidly! A few basic grammatical pointers can be found here.

Basically, my point is that if you're smart enough to create a website, you should be smart enough to use a dictionary, or at the very least, be smart enough to let someone who's got a dictionary have a look at it. Get a friend, or ten, to proofread what you've written before you inflict it on the rest of the world.

Colour coordination and colour sense
Try not to use colours that clash with, or conceal, each other both in the backgrounds and the images. The clashes will detract from the information you're trying convey to the site visitors, and may well deter them from continuing on with your site. Try to avoid too many animated .gif files. They're really kewl the first 2 minutes of the first time you see them, but they can quickly get on your nerves. The same applies to sounds and background music.
When choosing a background, make sure that the overlying text does not blend with the background, thereby rendering it illegible. Try also to avoid using fancy fonts, especially ones that were installed by your desktop publishing program or whatever. It's quite likely that 95% of your site visitors won't have that font. Stick to the standard font combinations of "Times New Roman,Times,Serif" and "Arial,Helvetic,Sans-serif". This pretty well guarantees that it will look much the same on most operating systems. Verdana is used a fair bit these days too, but generally only works of Micro$oft based machines.
Make sure that people can always find their way around your site. Have a tool bar or a menu on every page. Let these be links to represent the major divisions of the site, and then in each of these sections, you can further subdivide it. But at all times make it easy for people to backtrack, even to the "front page" of the site.
This is a really big no-no. I have seen soooo many sites, including this one, that have whole pages of information copied from this site word for word, including mistakes, without acknowledging the source of the information, and then having the GALL to put copyright messages on each page. Apart from the whole issue of intellectual property, what's the point of doing that, unless you're doing it in a language it hasn't been translated to yet? The same applies to a lot of the images, though many have asked me for permission to use them. There's another FAQ for that.
Useful information
While your enthusiasm in wanting to spread the word of Kyokushin is to be commended, your site should really try to contribute something new to the sum total of Kyokushin information on the net. Local information such as tournaments, dojo addresses etc..
Dojo sites
Dojo sites are useful. Use them to disseminate information to your students and also use them to advertise for and recruit new students. Make sure though that you make it clear where you dojo is.
Contact details
Don't just give a street address - the internet is international, and are unlikely to know where it is without more geographical information. Even including the city's name may not be enough. For example, if you say you're in Perth, you could be in Scotland, Western Australia, Ontario, or any of nine different locations in the USA! Be more specific, especially if you're trying to use your site to get more students.

Make sure you include full contact details on the site. Some sites, particularly dojo sites, only list their (incomplete) address, but no phone number or email address. This further aggravates the point made in the previous paragraph. I get particularly annoyed by websites that don't have an email address. That's like having your advertisement in the phonebook, but not including the phone number!

Clear identification and ownership.
"Contact" How irksome! What's wrong with saying who you are? Sure, it feels good to be known as a "webmaster", but it still leaves a question unanswered - WHO THE HECK ARE YOU? I'm reluctant to link to any site from my site unless I know who the site-owner is, and where his or her interests and loyalties lie. Anonymous sites are hypocritical - on the one hand, the owners claim to promote kyokushin through the site, saying it's for one and all and completely egalitarian (HAH!), but on the other hand they won't tell us who they are. I find this type of behaviour very suspicious, and seriously question their real motives. If you're IKO(1), IKO(2), IFK etc... be proud to say so. If you're NOT (or you're afraid to), then maybe it's time to leave and join another group, or, as currently seems to be the popular option, form another group.