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I'm Ted Pack, your web master. Rick's May 2011 spirituality essay, Things You'll Never See, struck a chord. It starts:

When I was building my house, my builder told me something that's stayed with me for 22 years now: "There are things that you'll never see that are in your house."

Then, later, he lists:

"Things like more nails than required by the building code; stronger bracing where he thought it would help, should a bad earthquake hit; and the smallest possible holes in the wall studs for the wires, so as not to compromise the stud's strength, even though it made feeding the wires through them rather difficult."

There are things you'll never see, and others you may not have noticed, inside this web site. They make it better, even though it took me a little more time to do them. Here is a list, in no particular order:

Colors: The text, background and heading are the same color on every page. All of the text links are blue and underlined. No other text is blue or underlined. You can tell what is a link at a glance.

Breadcrumbs on each interior page. For instance, at the top of this page:
Home > Spirituality Essays > Things You'll Never See > Inside
That may tell visitors how they got here; it may not, if they came in via a search engine. It tells them where they are, and that we have a collection of spirituality essays.

Navigation bar: On every page. Breadcrumbs and a navigation bar may sound like a belt and suspenders, but some people like one, some the other, and they are slightly different.

Accents: There is some magic you can do that puts the accent on words like café. I use it. If you've ever seen a web page or an e-mail message with odd symbols - the Euro currency sign, for instance - where an accented letter, apostrophe or semi-colon should be, you've seen an example of the problems computers sometimes have with characters.

Valid HTML 4.0! Valid HTML I validate my HTML with the w3.org Validator. Our site looks about the same with any browser.

Name, Address and telephone at the bottom of every page. Visitors don't have to go to the home page to find out where we are, nor do they have to go to "Contacts" if they want to send an e-mail.

Dates: All of them have the year as well as the month and day. The year assures visitors the site is current.

Text Size: gets larger when you click on
View > Text Size > Larger
and smaller when you click on
View > Text Size > Smaller
Some web masters use a fixed text size.

Ted Pack in Peru with an eagle on his head Pictures: You may have seen a web page with a small picture that takes a long time to load. That is usually because the web master has put a 5,000 x 3,000 picture on the site, but set the size to 500 x 300. You are waiting while your browser shrinks the picture 99%. I use a photo editor to make each picture the size it is going to be on the page. The one on the left is 180x240, for instance.

I use what are called "Alt" and "Title" tags on each picture. The Google robot reads them, to index them for its image search. The magic boxes blind people use that either read a page aloud or translate it into Braille use them. If you hover your mouse over the picture, you can read it too.

Page Titles: Plain as a mud fence, but clear. A UU site in San Diego used to have a page titled "Links". It didn't have links on it; it described a social networking program they had called "Links".

Line breaks: If you click on "View > Source" you can read the HTML behind the page easily. With very rare exception, none of the lines are more than 72 characters long. This is partly for my own ease, when I edit, and partly a habit left over from punching 80-character IBM cards in my youth.

Title Tags: At the very top of the page, above even "File Edit View ..." and the URL, is the page title. It shows up when you minimize the page and hover over the icon on your task bar. Our pages all have a meaningful title.

Description: This is more of a magic paragraph than a magic word. Google likes them to be 120 - 150 characters. It (and other search engines) use the page descriptions to make up the default "Google blurb" for a page. If you use the word "site" and a colon in Google, you can see ours. Try it:
Google site:mendouu.mcn.org.

Questions about Unitarian Universalism? Ask Rick Childs,

Questions about our web site? Ask Ted Pack: