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As the web becomes increasingly more crowded, it is important for webmasters to take the extra step to make their web sites user friendly. There are a number of free resources available to webmasters:

What is a Favorite Icon - Favicon?
Favorite icons, also known as favicon, appear in the URL bar. When a user bookmarks a specific Web page, that Web page loads a customized icon into the user's browser, typically a tiny version of a company or Web site's logo. Because the favicon is usually displayed next to the web site address, it can act like a small logo or an icon that visitors can use to remember the web site or the site address.

The favicon is displayed next to the Web site's name in the Favorites list and can also be displayed in the Links toolbar. When a site has not created a favicon, IE will load the IE logo into the browser by default. When a user bookmarks a page, the browser will request a favicon.ico file from the directory of the Web page. If such a file exists, then the Web page is using a favicon and will return the file to the browser. Many browsers support favicons including all current versions of the major browsers support favicons, including Internet Explorer 5/6+, Firefox 1+, Mozilla 1+, Netscape 7+, Opera 7+, Konqueror 3+, Safari and more. If a particular browser doesn't have support for the favicon feature, it'll simply ignore the favicon and the presence of a favicon won't affect that browser.

Webmasters can establish branding by customizing a favorite icon. The free service from HTMLKit
http://www.html-kit.com/favicon

Custom 404 Pages.
Urls are often mistyped into browsers. When a domain is correctly entered, but the web pages full url is entered incorrectly, it is possible to display a custom error page to web site visitors. By providing users a navigational bar or assistance rather than a generic error page. The customized error page will help keep prospective customers on your site providing them alternatives.

Webmasters should also routinely check their log files and correct any pages that result in errors. Most log analysis software will provide the referring document information for a webpage (the page that the user was at prior to the current page). Use the web log to track faulty links, if the links are out of the webmaster's control (a 3rd part), consider setting up a re-direct and forwarding the traffic to the appropriate webpage.

Sample Custom 404s - http://www.web-search-engines.net/error-page or http://www.puzzle-place.net/error-page


Navigation
Clear and intuitive navigation is important so that web surfers can locate the material of interest. Many web surfers will enter your website and land on a variety of pages. It is important that they navigate your site regardless of the webpage they landed on. Links on the site, should contain text that relates to the linked webpage's content.

Consider recruiting a child or inexperienced adult to test your website's navigation. Webmasters can often learn how others view their website, by just watching.

Webmaster Tools
There are a number of freely available web tools that will evaluate a site for a variety of things. Most of the online tools will generate a report and highlight the positive aspects of the website and possibly the negative aspects of the website, as it relates to the evaluation.

Web Analyzer Tool - http://www.webmaster-toolkit.com/web-page-analyser.shtml
Search Engine Assessment Tools - http://www.submitcorner.com/Tools/Assessment/

Take a few extra steps to make your site stand up and out from a competitors.

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net a wireless text messaging software company.

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This article may be used freely in opt-in publications and websites, provided that the resource box is included and the links are active. A courtesy copy of the issue or a link to any online posting would be greatly appreciated send an email to sharon@notepage.net .

Additional articles available for publication available at http://www.small-business-software.net/free-website-content.htm

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