Internet Privacy: Creating A Privacy Policy

Written by Richard Lowe

Any good web site has a certain amount of interactivity which causes visitors to need to enter data of one sort or another. Sometimes this is just a name or gender, and sometimes it is a full array of personal information. Some web sites even ask for social security numbers, addresses or, inrepparttar case of medical sites, highly personal data that would not normally be told even to one's closest friends.

Of course,repparttar 134645 most coveted data is an email address. This is because repparttar 134646 email address allowsrepparttar 134647 visitor to be contacted over and over again inrepparttar 134648 future. This, in turn, improvesrepparttar 134649 odds that something might actually be purchased (assumingrepparttar 134650 site has something for sale) or thatrepparttar 134651 message is read and understood.

In order for a webmaster and company to be completely ethical,repparttar 134652 uses of this information need to be clearly spelled out in simple, plain English. This is called a Privacy policy, and all well designed web sites which ask for any kind of personal data should include one. This is not a legal requirement, it is simply common courtesy. You are asking for something, and you should disclose how that is going to be used and protected (if necessary). This allows people to make informed decisions about what they want to tell you.

What should a privacy policy include? Some of my suggestions include repparttar 134653 following.

Email usage - If you are asking for an email address, then you need to tell your visitors exactly what you plan on doing with it. For example, on our web site we ask for an email address for guestbooks, feedback and joining a mailing list. Inrepparttar 134654 first two instances, we do not userepparttar 134655 email address for anything except a thank you and never send anything else, so this is stated inrepparttar 134656 privacy policy. Of course, we do send repeat emails if a mailing list is joined, but we don't give those email addresses to anyone. This is also clearly stated.

Cookie usage - If your site uses cookies, you should explain completely and fully what they are used for an how long they persist (remain before they are deleted). The press has made a big deal about cookies, and because of that people tend to have very negative opinions. This makes it very important to explain exactly why you are using them.

Advertiser issues - If you have banners or other advertisements on your web site, include a section which explains exactly what privacy issues this might bring up. You might just say you display banner ads, and cookies may or may not be associated with those ads. You might also indicate whether or not a web bug is included withrepparttar 134657 ad (a web bug is a 1X1 pixel graphic used to trackrepparttar 134658 effectiveness of an advertisement). You can get this information fromrepparttar 134659 advertiser or agency (such as Linkshare or ClickXchange). You can also include repparttar 134660 URL of their privacy policy to allow your visitors to explore any issues directly.

Search Boxes

Written by Richard Lowe

One of my pet peeves is webmasters which make it difficult for me to use their site. I mean, I'm there, looking at a page and I just cannot find what I want. I look everywhere for navigation, and what I want to find just doesn't seem to be covered. That's not necessarily a problem, as everything cannot be always be handled byrepparttar navigation menus.

Okay, what'srepparttar 134644 next thing I'm going to look for? A search box, a site map or some other, more general way to findrepparttar 134645 information that I need. Site maps can be difficult to maintain unless they are very general (which, in turn, makes them less useful). Search boxes, onrepparttar 134646 other hand, require no care and feeding at all once you've got them installed (although you should spend some time tuning them to make them even more useful).

If you have a site with a large amount of information or a site which is very diverse, a search box is your best bet.

- First of all, it allows your visitors to find things that they might not otherwise find.

- It causes visitors to go deeper into your site, to stay longer and to look around more.

- Just as important, very little maintenance is required.

- In addition, most ofrepparttar 134647 search utilities are free for small sites.

- The pay versions are extremely inexpensive forrepparttar 134648 benefits they provide.

- It just makes your site (no matter how large or how small) look more professional.

Some ofrepparttar 134649 unexpected side effects include:

- You make it even more likely that your visitors can wind up on any page. This means your site navigation must be very good or your visitors will get lost.

- Visitors will find themselves dumped onto pages on your site which you did not intend for them to find. Under construction pages, "spam traps" and anything else you've got. Be sure to use metatags andrepparttar 134650 Robots.Txt file to control indexing well.

You have several options when choosing a search box for your site.

- If you edit your site using Microsoft FrontPage, you could userepparttar 134651 built-in search functions. Note thatrepparttar 134652 searching facilities in FrontPage are so lame that personally I would not recommend them to anyone.

- You could use a self-hosted script if your host allows CGI routines. I would not recommend this method, as these routines tend to be very server intensive. In fact, most web hosts that I have found will not allow them to run.

- The best option is to use one ofrepparttar 134653 remotely-hosted search functions for your site.

I have found three excellent remotely-hosted search companies.

Atomz - Probablyrepparttar 134654 overall best ofrepparttar 134655 bunch, but alsorepparttar 134656 most expensive by far. I liked Atomz, but we switched because it just became too costly. Atomz allows up to 500 pages to be spidered for free, with advertisements in your results pages.

Freefind - Excellent service, andrepparttar 134657 one that we settled on because it was very full functioned and inexpensive. The version for personal or nonprofit sites is only $19 per month, a year paid in advance. Up to 32mb of pages can be spidered for free.

Whatuseek - Another excellent service, allowing up to 1,000 pages to be spidered for free.

Each of these services has it's own advantages and disadvantages, but all of them work basicallyrepparttar 134658 same. My recommendation is to try out all three services using their free versions to determine exactly which one isrepparttar 134659 best for your needs. Then go ahead and purchaserepparttar 134660 paid version forrepparttar 134661 correct fit.

How does this all work? Well, once you sign you for an account you supplyrepparttar 134662 URL for your web site. You then define a template forrepparttar 134663 results page, or you can use one ofrepparttar 134664 basic templates that each service provides. All three services allow you to define a template (in advanced mode) which looks exactly like your site. You then define any special parameters such as pages to exclude, usernames and passwords for protected pages and so on. Once that's done, you installrepparttar 134665 search code on each of your web pages, then tellrepparttar 134666 search utility to spider your site.

It's as simple as that. I fully tested each ofrepparttar 134667 three search companies in about an eight hour day before finally settling onrepparttar 134668 one that best metrepparttar 134669 requirements of my site.

Okay, so let's say you now have chosen a search function for your site, you've createdrepparttar 134670 perfect template and you've got your HTML code. What else do you need to do?

- Putrepparttar 134671 search box in a very prominent spot on your site. The upper left-hand corner is by farrepparttar 134672 most visible location, and it's a great choice. Make sure that it is at least "aboverepparttar 134673 fold".

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