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Website Help for Project Coordinators


Tips to help create a successful IAGenWeb project website

For more website answers and tips visit the F.A.Q. and the Volunteer Primer.

Ten Tips for A GREAT IAGenWeb Site

Refer to the tutorial Mike Markel’s Web Page Design for this section.
  1. Five basic design principles will help you create an effective design:
    1. Use contrast. Make your text stand out against the background. Use graphics or colors to signal important information.
    2. Use spatial relationships to present information clearly. Items next to each other appear related to each other. Items in a bulleted list are also related to each other.
    3. Establish patterns. The navigation links should appear in the same place on each page, and they should have the same design. Footers should also be the same from page to page.
    4. Use moderation. Using too many colors will confuse readers. Filling every inch of the screen with information will overwhelm readers. Including meaningless graphics or sounds will annoy readers.
    5. Present a balanced look. Elements on a page should be placed so that the page appears visually balanced, not tilting precariously in one direction.
  2. Aim for simplicity. It’s tempting to dress up your web page now that you know how to use all of the fancy html features. However keeping the background, text, and graphics simple will aid the viewer in using your site. Animation, fading in or out and music all add confusion to the web page, can be very annoying to some people and take longer to open the site.
  3. Help Readers Navigate the Site. There is nothing more frustrating to the viewer than trying to locate information on a web site. The suggestions in this section gives good suggestions.
  1. IAGenWeb Boards. Most counties have moved to the IAGenWeb boards, but there are still a few who are not using this feature. The leadership team highly recommends having these boards on the county site for these reasons:
    1. Ease of use for the visitor AND extremely easy to use by the CC.
    2. Instantaneous posting instead of waiting for CC to post manually.
    3. Ability for visitor to search entire state.
    4. Site identification with IAGenWeb.
    5. Use these pages for transcriptions of documents, bios, etc. instead of having to create an entirely new web page.
    6. Know how many people are looking at each obituary, query, document or biography.
  2. Check links on a periodic basis. Even if you’ve had a “perfect” site, external links can change without you know it.
    1. Use WC3 Link Checker at http://validator.w3.org/checklink
      1. Type the URL address of your county in the box.
      2. Check box: Summary Only (gives a shorter version of broken links for the site).
      3. Check box: Check linked documents recursively, recursion depth: and leave the end box blank.
      4. Click on Check button.
      5. Wait until results start to appear. This could take awhile so go have a cupa’ something and come back later.
      6. When the program is complete. Scroll down the list. If I have a lot of broken links, I like to save the entire record and paste it into a word document, so I can work on the links one by one.
      7. Otherwise just go down each link and fix it as you go down the list.
    2. To fix links:
      1. The web page on which the broken link is found is shown to the right of Processing.

        Processing http://iagenweb.org/jasper/bios/1894/O.htm

        This may take some time... (why?)


        Found 1 anchors.

        Valid Anchors!

        List of broken links and redirects

        Fragments listed are broken. See the table below to know what action to take.

        Code Occurrences What to do
        404 2 The link is broken. Fix it NOW!
        What to do: The link is broken. Fix it NOW!
        Response status code: 404
        Response message: Not Found
        Line: 43

      2. A broken link is shown under the section List of broken links and redirects
      3. Use your html software to fix the link and move to the server.
  3. Page Last Updated. Visitors like to know when the information they are viewing was last updated so they know whether or not there is new information since their last visit. This is simple to do by inserting the following code near the bottom of the web page: <script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript"> document.write("Page Last Updated " + document.lastModified); </script>
  4. For other mechanical suggestions go to the IAGenWeb Forum and look under Help for Project Coordinators.
Specialty Items
  1. Create an index for the Gravestone Photo Project and link to the correct cemetery page on the web site. These instructions are from Sharyl Ferrall
    1. Go to the Search Page on GPP.
    2. Scroll down almost to the bottom of the page and click on "Cemetery Index" in the blue bar.
    3. You will see a list of all the counties and cemeteries that have submissions. Locate your county for the index
    4. Click on each cemetery to see the entries and copy the URL for that cemetery.
    5. On the county web site create a link from each cemetery page to the proper index.
  2. Creating Thumbnails. A thumbnail is a very small photo that is used to web pages that can link to a larger photo. Because of their small size you can put a number of thumbnail pictures on one web page and still have the page download quickly.
    1. Download and install free software Easy Thumbnails.
    2. This software is pretty easy to use but if you need help, contact Barbara Hug.
    3. Look at example at http://iagenweb.org/jasper/photos/colfax/ then look at the codes [View >Source] to see how the links were done.
  3. Creating a map showing your county location in Iowa. This can be a nice feature on your web page. Use this web site to make your map http://monarch.tamu.edu/~maps2/ia.htm. Work with the site to figure you the look you want. You can do a map with and without other county borders and change the color of the selected county. I suggest saving the map to your hard drive, making a thumbnail and using the thumbnail on your web page. If you have questions about using this site, please e-mail me.