All hope is not lost - 404 Errors

Written by Lauri Harpf


In a previous article, I discussedrepparttar advantages of using a customized 404 error page on your site and gave instructions on how to create one. As I explained back then, these pages are highly useful because they enable you to benefit from traffic that would otherwise be lost. They however do have one dark side that can make maintaining your site significantly more difficult than what it has been before.

What is this problem I'm talking about? Well, it is quite simple. Usually when a server encounters a 404 error, it recordsrepparttar 134734 details aboutrepparttar 134735 event into its log file. Should you suddenly notice thatrepparttar 134736 log shows multiple 404 errors due to a page named "abutme.html" not being found, you can deduct that you've probably accidentally linked to "abutme.html" somewhere on your pages instead of usingrepparttar 134737 correct filename "aboutme.html". As you can see fromrepparttar 134738 above,repparttar 134739 functionality offered by log files makes them a great help in tracking down such simple mistakes and enables you to keep your site relatively free of in-site broken links.

However, if you happen to have replacedrepparttar 134740 standard 404 error with your own HTML 404 error page, you can't utilize this useful feature. Yes, you will still see that a 404 error has occurred, but you won't get any further details that would help you figure out what exactly happened. Finding and fixing these errors becomes nearly impossible, causing them to pile up over time and deterioraterepparttar 134741 professional image of your site. Now you're facingrepparttar 134742 tough choice of either showing your visitors a very unfriendly error message that drives them away or acceptingrepparttar 134743 fact that your stylish custom 404 error page will become an all too familiar sight to those who click around your site.

All hope is not lost ====================

After readingrepparttar 134744 above, you must be feeling pretty down. I sure know I did after having installed my own 404 page only to notice that I had corrected one problem, but caused another one while doing it. Still, there is a solution to every difficult situation and this one is no exception. If you want to keep your 404 page and still get informed when you mess things up and create a broken link, you'll be pleased to hear that I happen to have justrepparttar 134745 thing forrepparttar 134746 job. Before we begin, please take into account that in order to use this fix, your host has to be running Apache with support for .htaccess files, Server Side Includes (SSI) and CGI. Contact your technical support for information on whether you have access to these valuable features or not.

Without further ado, let's roll up our sleeves and get to work. The first thing you will need is a CGI script that will logrepparttar 134747 errors and let you know about them. There are several ones out there that you can use, but I personally prefer Matrix Vault's free 404 Helper that can be found at http://www.pixelwarehouse.com/cgi/404helper.shtml . Downloadrepparttar 134748 source code to your hard drive and open it in a text editor. You can get free editors fromrepparttar 134749 Net, butrepparttar 134750 old MS-DOS Edit supplied with just about every version of Windows will do just fine. To run Edit, go to Start, Run, type "edit" withoutrepparttar 134751 quotes intorepparttar 134752 box and click OK.

Before you start editingrepparttar 134753 file, you'll need to know where your host has installedrepparttar 134754 Perl interpreter and Sendmail. Once you have figured it out, check ifrepparttar 134755 paths used inrepparttar 134756 CGI script match those your host uses. The Perl interpreter's location is set to /usr/bin/perl inrepparttar 134757 first row andrepparttar 134758 location of Sendmail is set to /usr/lib/sendmail inrepparttar 134759 21st row. Make changes, if necessary.

After you have made sure thatrepparttar 134760 paths are correct, modifyrepparttar 134761 rest ofrepparttar 134762 script to suit your needs. Be sure to replacerepparttar 134763 E-mail address inrepparttar 134764 $email field withrepparttar 134765 one you wantrepparttar 134766 error report to be sent to. You might also wish to use a smaller value inrepparttar 134767 $mailon field thanrepparttar 134768 default of 10, as it can take quite a while for a small site to generate enough 404 errors to fill up a 10K log. I suggest using a value of 1 or 2 atrepparttar 134769 beginning and raising it later if you feel that you are receivingrepparttar 134770 error reports more often than you'd like to.

Ten Basic Steps for Building a Web Site that Works

Written by Lee Traupel


Assemble a Web site development plan that is integrated with your overall marketing processes. The content should be consistent with offline materials;repparttar graphics/images don't have to be identical with traditional media, but should be consistent with your overall branding, style guide, usage of colors, etc.

Hire a Web site design firm that understands your market position. Find one that won't get "geek crazy" meaning they are so in love with their own design capabilities, your site gets bogged down with graphics, plug ins, GIF garbage, etc. But, conversely, check your ego atrepparttar 134733 door when you work with your design firm we've see so many good Web site designs ruined by clients who can't or won't listen to sound advice.

Pay attention to "load times," how long it takes a Web site to load on an industry-average 56 KBPS modem. If it's more than 12-18 seconds you may experiencerepparttar 134734 "click of death" repparttar 134735 site doesn't load quickly andrepparttar 134736 surfer is gone. Of course, if you're targeting broadband customers who are reaching your site via ISDN or DSL, then you can build a site that incorporates multimedia-ready content that may include streaming audio or video, or Shockwave or Flash capabilities. Go ahead and let those digital geeks get carried away with cutting edge content presentation.

Keep it simple make your site easy to move around in. Build a menu structure that is consistent with industry standards: local menus (for a page or section) onrepparttar 134737 left and global menus (overall site navigation) atrepparttar 134738 top and/or bottom of each page. Keep as much information "aboverepparttar 134739 fold" (aboverepparttar 134740 cutoff point atrepparttar 134741 bottom of a monitor); don't make people use horizontal scroll bars unless absolutely necessary.

Inculcate "digital speed" into your overall site design. Your clients/customers should be able to get to their desired area of your site within one or two mouse clicks; they will quickly get frustrated if they have to click through multiple menus to find information they are seeking.

Develop content that is Web enabled. People don't read Web site content like they do offline media. Keep your paragraphs short (no more than two to three sentences), build in white space with your content, and include links in your pages. Don't try to tell your whole marketing story on your site get people to call you (hello repparttar 134742 telephone still works!), e-mail you, or fill out a profile form.

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