WEBSITE etiquette

N-etiquette rose Webmasters are responsible for the manners displayed by their websites.  Website etiquette may appear a humorous subject on the face of it.  In fact, webmasters are hosts and netiquette is deadly serious.  What are the accessibility rulings by W3C but another name for professional courtesy?  It is estimated that over 83% of websites today are selling something.  It does no one any good to display wares in a manner that they cannot be seen by 40% of the potential buying public.  Simply:  Good Manners Are Good Business.


Accessibility and Manners
Special Notes on Font Choice
Copyrights and Trademarks / Criminals break the law
Personal Information in Websites / Privacy Policies


Accessibility and Manners

Did your mother ever tell you that it was impolite to whisper in front of others?  Well, high-level web design rules in compliance with WW3 requirements for web site accessibility include a need for a clear understandable audible (when a screen reader is used).

The primary - and also the last - word must come from W3C, the organization that is responsible for standards in web design and websites. Their reasoning and rulings boil down to "equivalent". Just as some people can't see (images, movies, applets, etc.) and others can't hear (sounds, music, etc.) directly, they may be given equivalent information to the visual or auditory content. This equivalent information must serve the same purpose as the 'replaced' content. A text equivalent for a graphic, for example, may be as simple as a brief alt tag. ALT-text descriptions can provide an accessibility feature for disabled viewers and those that browse pages in text-mode. This alternative description could contain a keyword -- hopefully reinforcing your page theme with certain Search Engines. On the Web, the "sightless population" includes the robots of search engines. (Since the search engines' robots are text-only and generally support only HTML 2.0, accessibility can be a significant advantage in getting favorably indexed. Sites that hide content in ALT-less images are hurting their chances of being found by users.)

It is rude to ignore visitors that you have invited.  This does not mean that there is not a place for Flash, wild fonts  and Heavy Metal music on your personal site.  It simply means that if you are providing a site for the general public - especially the general buying public - you would do well to follow the following accessibility guidelines.

Seems like a lot? Then you know what many of  your audience have to go through.

Three final checks for your site:

    *Plug your site into a Reader and LISTEN to it with your eyes closed.
    *Dispose of your mouse and navigate your site with the keyboard only.
    *In Internet Explorer, turn off your graphics and view the page.

Special Notes on Font Choice: 

Fonts that are unreadable or difficult for your viewer are rude, of course - but fonts also carry subliminal messages along with the words they spell out. Most people equate all caps in the body of a message as shouting at them.  This is not true of headers or titles. Acceptance of 'shouting' in headers is most likely a throwback to street criers and news venders.  Perhaps we expect headlines to be shouted?

The following is a quote from the article Font Choices for Readability from All 'Bout Computers, a monthly ezine.

"Generally, sans-serif typefaces appear up-to-date. Serif typefaces appear established or conservative. Even within these two categories, though, fonts can be sassy, brassy, retiring or loud. The fashion in fonts has drifted toward a primitive / childish look in recent years, perhaps a backlash to the dark Gothic fonts previously prominent.

Used correctly, politely and consistently, fonts will strengthen your website’s identity or ‘brand’. Font choices enable you to control not just your message – but the nuance, tone and ease of assimilation of your message"

Copyrights and Trademarks / Criminals break the law

The following information would not normally be on a website devoted to etiquette.  It is included here because many well-meaning but non-thinking amateurs are breaking the law .

Many resources are free on the web.  Creating websites is fairly easy with programs that write HTML code.  There is a free and easy feeling that may be misleading to newbies.

If you include content that is created by others, please verify that it is acceptable to use it on your site.  Do not include on your site any material that violates copyright or trademark laws. Photos, cartoons, certain Fonts, music files, javascripts, and / or written text are showing up on amateur websites  due to misunderstanding or innocent ignorance of these laws and the protections that they provide to certain artists and creators.  The assumption that someone else's property is yours for whatever use you choose is rude at the least and may well be theft.   There are legal risks involved when borrowing protected material.


Personal Information in Websites / Privacy Policies

Never reveal another's personal information without prior approval.

For an informal, personal website, there are no rules about revealing information that belongs to you personally.  It is presumed that anyone who does not want to read this information, will not do so.  It is also presumed that you have relinquished your right to the privacy of such information.

For informal websites for groups or clubs, any listing of names, email addresses or personal information should be in the password protected section of the site. (From experience, there are some who will not even want to be listed there. If that is the case, then "withheld by request" should be listed in any place where information is not released)

Every website should allow contact information to visitors.  A surfer should have an ability to contact - but not necessarily know WHO they are contacting, the website section that is open to the public would have contact addresses such as:

Unless your site is for a government organization or a corporation, where officers of this organization are a matter of public record, do not list the officers on the 'open to the public' pages. A casual surfer does not 'need to know'.

Every Website should have a privacy statement which advises visitors of the use (if any) that will be made of their email address should they choose to contact you.

Every website should note clearly if cookies are in use on the website.

See Also:

Baby  or Bridal Shower  Etiquette Internet Forum Etiquette
Birthday Party Etiquette Internet List / Group Etiquette
Business Etiquette Other Opinions
Cemetery Etiquette Personal Etiquette
E-mail Etiquette Website Etiquette


Wedding Etiquette
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