Technical Aspects
Technical aspects include how well your HTML code has been written, which means using well formed HTML and correct and appropriate use of stylesheets, and how well you have integrated features such as AJAX technology, flash or other advanced features.

If your website has coding errors, the search engines will struggle to read the pages on your website correctly, and give you poor web ranking.

Even worse, some browsers will display your website incorrectly, or even crash.

1) Work toward w3c markup validation:

The first line of code on each page of your website should contain the document type. This will be set as something like HTML3.2, HTML4.01 Transitional, XHTML 1.0 Strict etc. This tells the browser how to interpret the HTML markup on the page. If the code on the page does not meet the expected syntax, the browser may display the page incorrectly.

Visit http://validator.w3.org and validate each of your website pages. Plan to fix all the errors you can. Even if your website still looks right, the consequences are that the website will be poorly ranked by the search engines.

2) Develop a web accessibility policy:

All websites should comply with accessibility standards according to the disability discrimination act 1995. The part of this act that states that website must be accessible came into force on 1st October 1999 and the code of practice for this section of the act was published on 27th May 2002.

Basically the act states that if a disabled person finds it impossible or unreasonably difficult to access information and services from your website, and you have not made reasonable adjustments and cannot show that this failure is justified, then you may be liable under the Act and have to pay compensation and be ordered by a court to change your website.

You can find more information on the w3c website:
http://www.w3.org/WAI/intro/accessibility.php

You can test your website for free by WebXAct:
http://webxact.watchfire.com

3) Use cascading style sheets:

With cascading style sheets, you’ll be able to easily add style and structure to your website, define styling rules across the whole of your website in one place, make your pages smaller and faster to load, and most importantly, make your website more accessible.

Cascading style sheets also mean your website will be easier to maintain, less prone to errors and is more likely to look the same across the different versions of browsers.

4) Control the need to open new windows and popups:

If your website opens a new window or popup when you click on a link, unless this is a benefit to the viewer like viewing an image in more detail, then this is regarded as a hostile take-over of the users PC. Another issue is that the back button will be disabled in new windows and prevent the user from returning to the previous site.

5) Be careful with redirects and cached pages:

If your website fetches the content from a database and does not have any static pages, then problems may occur if the browser caches your pages. What may happen is that if the user clicks the back button, the last page will be out of date and may display an error. This can be avoided by forcing the browser to fetch a fresh copy of each page every time.

Page redirects are used when a page moves and is no longer valid. This is achieved by inserting a link in the meta-data to take the user to a more appropriate page. If this new page doesn’t exist, then the user will lose navigation and will lose the site altogether if the back button is clicked. If you need to use page redirects, make sure the link is correct and updated when the linked page changes.

6) Search facilities:

A site search facility is valuable when the user either knows exactly what they’re looking for, or have failed to find it using the menu navigation provided. Users expect to simply enter the keyword into a search box on the home page and the most relevant page to appear. If a complex search form or web scoping is required, then a better search algorithm or module should be added.

Studies have shown that users do not use advanced search techniques and instead retry a different series of keywords. Users who don’t find the results with their first query are progressively less likely to succeed with further searches.

The search algorithm should prioritise results in a way that puts the most relevant on the first page, not simply the page with the most keyword matches. The most common queries in your search logs should help you to determine relevant landing pages for these queries and be constantly fine tuning this process to show the landing pages to help the user find the information they require.

7) Use of latest technology:

Technology is ever changing and improving. Incorporating the latest technology into your website should be carefully considered. You cannot assume all your visitors will have the latest browser version and have installed the latest versions of add-ons and modules. External links should be provided to assist the user to install any add-ons and modules your chosen technology requires.

To give your website the best possible chance of success, ensure that the essential design aspects have been reviewed and dealt with. If you feel your website requires attention in any area of its design, please contact your account manager for advice.

If you are in any doubt, complete the support request form and your account manager will review your enquiry the following day.