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Designers - You Should Know This!
By Eddie SanMarco - 2007-06-26 Page:  1 2 3

The Code

* Cascading Style Sheets

Cascading style sheets provide a greater degree of control over site design by keeping layout and content separate. A well-designed CSS also speeds up site loading time. Visit this site for an in-depth look at how to construct and use a CSS properly.

Current best practices dictate that the use of the TABLE tags are replaced with CSS table substitutes.

* Cookies

Although the concern is generally unwarranted, many people have turned cookie acceptance off on their browsers. IE ships with a highly-restrictive cookie acceptance policy as its default.

Consider avoiding cookie use altogether and never require the acceptance of cookies in order to view any portion of a web site. If cookies are being contemplated to track login status, consider using SESSION ID's or other appropriate cookie alternatives.

If you do use SESSION tracking, NEVER hard code a SESSION ID into any link. Doing so can compromise the site's security or the security of an individual user. The most common way that SESSION IDs get encoded into links accidentally is when the developer copies and pastes a link from their own browser that is already displaying a SESSION ID.

* JavaScript Considerations

JavaScript is not supported by all browsers and those that do support JavaScript often implement that support differently. Many current browsers block JavaScript and require the user to click on a warning dialog box in order to allow JavaScript to execute. This warning box intimidates many users. A great number of users turn JavaScript support off completely.

If you do use JavaScript, be sure to fully implement the NOSCRIPT tags to hide the JavaScript code from non-compatible browsers.

NEVER use JavaScript to affect a browser redirect. This is a form of search engine "trickery" that can get the site banned by Google and others. Speaking of redirects, always use the HTTP 301 Status code and Location header to handle permanent page or site redirection. There is no search engine penalty incurred with this method.

Keep in mind that these best practices represent the minimum quality standards that we want to code to. Remember, when in doubt; choose what's best for the user who is visiting the site with the lowest level of available technology.

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