Avoid Dead Ends and Spelling Faux Pas - HTML 4

A sense of urgency that things must work well and look good on a Web site will never fail to motivate you to keep your site humming along. That said, if you work from a visual diagram of how your site is (or should be) organized, you’ll be well-equipped to check structure, organization, and navigation.Likewise, if you put your pages through their paces regularly (or at least each time they change) with a spell checker, you’ll be able to avoid unwanted tpyos.

Make a list and check it — twice
Your design should include a road map (often called a site map) that tells you what’s where in every individual HTML document in your site and the relationships among its pages. If you’re really smart, you kept this map up-todate as you moved from design to implementation. (In our experience, things always change when you go down this path.) If you’re merely as smart as the rest of us, don’t berate yourself — update that map now. Be sure to include all intra- and interdocument links.

A site map provides the foundation for a test plan. Yep, that’s right — effective testing isn’t random. Use your map to

  • Investigate and check every page and every link systematically.
  • Make sure everything works as you think it should — and that what you built has some relationship to your design.
  • Define the list of things to check as you go through the testing process.
  • Check everything (at least) twice. (Red suit and reindeer harness optional.)

Master text mechanics
By the time any collection of Web pages comes together, you’re looking at thousands of words, if not more. Yet many Web pages get published without a spell check, which is why we suggest — no, demand — that you include a spell check as a step when testing and checking your materials. (Okay, we don’t have a gun to your head, but you know it’s for your own good.) Many HTML tools, such as FrontPage, HomeSite, and Dreamweaver, include built-in spell checkers, and that’s the first spell-check method you should use. These HTML tools also know how to ignore the HTML markup and just check your text.

Even if you use HTML tools only occasionally and hack out the majority of your HTML by hand, perform a spell check before posting your documents to the Web. (For a handy illustration of why this step matters, try keeping a log of spelling and grammar errors you find during your Web travels. Be sure to include a note on how those gaffes reflect on the people who created the pages involved. Get the message?)

You can use your favorite word processor to spell check your pages. Before you check them, add HTML markup to your custom dictionary, and pretty soon the spell checker runs more smoothly — getting stuck only on URLs and other strange strings that occur from time to time in HTML files.

If you’d prefer a different approach, try any of the many HTML-based spellchecking services now available on the Web.

If Doctor HTML’s spell checker doesn’t float your boat, and use web page spell check as a search string. Doing so can help you produce a list of spell-checking tools made specifically for Web pages.

One way or another, persist until you root out all typos and misspellings. Your users may not thank you for your impeccable use of language — but if they don’t trip over errors while exploring your work, they’ll think more highly of your pages (and their creator) even if they don’t know why. Call it stealth diplomacy!

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