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Out, damned tables!

July 14, 2009

So my first attempt at web development can be found at www.perfectvenue.co.nz. Co-authored with Gemma Dixon, we created Perfect Venue because:

  1. We love weddings
  2. Each of us wanted to learn more about web development
  3. We both found it hard to find information on Christchurch wedding venues when planning our respective weddings

We embarked on this when I knew very little about web design and development hence when I take a look at the source code now I cringe a little.

Tables everywhere.

Even with extensive use of CSS for formatting the content, there is a heavy use of tables throughout the site. It was just easier at the time. Tonight we started a full rewrite of the site to clean up the formatting and standardise it across all pages, aligning our design with web design best practices.

I want to start from scratch with the CSS, however if you don’t have the time or the skills to start from nothing, there are some great free CSS templates out there. It is nice and easy to start with a framework to build upon and then edit it to suit your own needs. I came across this nice basic collection of CSS layouts and Dreamweaver comes with some fairly decent ones built in as well.

We will also be working on SEO as we go. Our page rank in Google is OK for certain search terms however it could be improved. Working on our keyword optimisation, as well as organising the content properly will help achieve this. One facet that needs a lot of improvement is the use of HTML heading tags. Hacking the CSS just to make the site look how I wanted it to look meant that I basically just used these tags for formatting, and not for indicating hierarchical data like they are intended. W3Schools explains it well:

Use HTML headings for headings only. Don’t use headings to make text BIG or bold. Search engines use your headings to index the structure and content of your web pages. Since users may skim your pages by its headings, it is important to use headings to show the document structure. H1 headings should be used as main headings, followed by H2 headings, then less important H3 headings, and so on.

There is an absolute ton of information out there on search engine optimisation so I’m not going to go into it here, plus I am in no way an expert on this topic. Two great sites I have found recently are:

  • seoreport.co.nz – this site gives a nice overview of your metadata as well as your keyword optimisation, incoming links and your Google pagerank. It is useful in the least to quickly compare your site to other sites you may be competing with, or that you want to emulate.
  • ask-kalena.com – the search industry’s first agony aunt – you can ask Kalena questions about SEO and have them featured on her blog. You’ll learn alot reading other people’s questions as well as trawling through the archives. You can find Kalena on Twitter too.

So watch this space, hopefully we will end up with a shiny new optimised website (still pink of course though) sometime soon.

Auf Wiedersehen!

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