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The JavaRanch home page

 
paul wheaton
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I have heard that the JavaRanch home page is too long. That if we were to somehow smash everything so it will fit in a page that does not need scrolling, more people would visit and re-visit.
Does anyone agree with this? What would be some alternatives?
 
Mindy Walker
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I agree.
The common monitor resolution on the web is 800x600 pixs. with approx. 766x415 pixs. of browser real-estate space available. Anything below the fold, past 415 pixs., usually looses the user, because users don't particularly like to scroll. Something else to keep in mind, the height of the actual real-estate changes with each browser and how their toolbar preferences are set. 415 pixels is with large buttons with text and the address bar.
Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Include only the icon image (moose, horse, etc.) and the title image. On that section's home page, include the description of that section.
  • Use smaller icon images with a small title and a very brief description. Perhaps you could include the icon image in the text and allow the text to wrap around it. Once again, have the full description of that section on it's home page.

  • On the home page, always keep descriptions brief. Users want to be able to navigate quickly. Once they get to where they want to be, they will want to learn more about it.
    [This message has been edited by Mindy Walker (edited March 31, 2000).]
 
paul wheaton
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I'm a little worried about two things:

    I'm trying to entice users into the feature sections with the paragraph - won't I lose that?
    Many search engines key off of the text that appears on the page. I want to direct search engines to my home page. The more text I take out, the fewer keywords there will be for search engines.

 
Mindy Walker
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Word the summary carefully to get the users attention. Less is more, more is less.
As far as search engines go, either place the text within the Meta Description tag or a comment tag in the HTML file. Search engines look for text in a document whether it's in a Meta tag, comment tag, or displaying on the page.
[This message has been edited by Mindy Walker (edited March 31, 2000).]
 
Ray Marsh
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What about leaving the front page content intact and adding a snazzy directory at the top? You would preserve the text and allow the user to browse the site without having to roll down the page if they don't want to.
 
paul wheaton
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Mindy,
Are you absolutely, positively sure that search engines will include text found in comments?
I like Ray's idea - will that work? Or maybe something like that down the left side.
 
Mindy Walker
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I'm positive it will work. I read about it and one of my teachers told me it works.
Ray's idea is also a good alternative. In addtion, I think reducing the size of the images will help move the text up so less scrolling will be needed.
 
mohammad abu nayum
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How about using frames to make the page display the same info in a more organised fashion?
 
paul wheaton
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I've heard that some search engines get weird about frames and might not find searchable stuff in frames.
 
Mindy Walker
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I've been doing some more research and as far as making the home page usable for search engines, it depends on what the search engine uses. Some of them use the Meta Description tag, others use only the first 250 characters of text within the document-even in comment tags, some use all text except what's in a comment tags, and some will even use text within ALT tags if you have a lot of images, but all of them use the Meta Keywords tag.
I found this page on Infoseek (a.k.a. Go.com) that tells you what they look for: http://www.go.com/Help/help.html?key=HELP_T00404_AddURLtips. I'm sure each search engine site will have something similar, if you want to research all of them. Yuck!
This is from http://www.stars.com/Location/Meta/Tag.html:
"So the best advice seems to be, work very hard on selecting your keywords (e.g. use a thesaurus to find other words people might use; brainstorm with friends and colleagues, etc) and put the most important ones into a carefully crafted paragraph at the start of your HTML document. Put the whole list into a META tag, most important or selective words first. Announce your page or site using one of the multiple submission services such as Entity."
[This message has been edited by Mindy Walker (edited April 10, 2000).]
 
Frank Carver
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As for the layout of the first page, I agree that it's too long. When I first saw it I was surprized by the "tall and thin" design. How about a sort of "competition" among members to see some suggestions for new layouts?
 
paul wheaton
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A friend of mine is going to try some stuff out to clean the site up a bit.
Mindy - this has been my experience too: Most engines use the meta tags. The different search engines have been getting more sophisticated. Now, the biggest search engines will key on phrases as well as words. So your keyword stuff should be comma seperated phrases. Search engines also give higher ranking if the search phrase reappears in the visible text one to three times. Too many times and they consider that to be search engine spam.
One of the keywords phrases I want to be found by is "java certification", so that appears as a phrase in my keyword metatag and also appears three times in the visible text.
 
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