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15.1 Site Launch Checklist

Don't wait until you've finished your site before embarking on a thorough strategy of testing. By that time, serious design errors may have so completely infested the pages of your site that you may have to start over, or at least spend many hours fixing problems that could have been prevented early on.

  • Preview early and often. The single best way to make sure a page will look and function the way you want it to is to preview it in as many Web browsers as possible. Use Dreamweaver's Preview command (see Chapter 1) to preview your page in every browser you can get your hands on. Make sure the graphics look right, that your layout remains the same, and that Cascading Style Sheets, Dreamweaver Behaviors, and complex layout methods work as you intended.


    If you don't have every browser ever created installed on your Mac, Windows, and Linux machines (you do have all three, don't you?), consider the commercial Web site . This service lets you view screenshots of your site using a wide variety of browsers and operating systems to make sure your site is working. The downside: $40 a month (ouch).

    Alternatively, you can download and install the real thing from . This site has archived versions of nearly every Web browser created.

    For a thorough evaluation, however, you should preview your pages using every combination of browser and operating system you think your site's visitors might use. Enroll co-workers, family members, and household pets, if necessary, in this effort. At the very least, test your pages using Internet Explorer 5 and 6 on Windows, and Internet Explorer 5 and Safari on the Mac. If you have access to an AOL account條ike 34 million other people around the world梪se it. And as the population of Netscape 7, Mozilla, and Opera users grows, add these to your test schedule, too.

    If you already have a site up and running, you can find useful browser information in your site's log files. These files track information about visits to your site, including which browsers and platforms your visitors are using. Most Web hosting companies provide access to these files, as well as software to analyze the confusing code inside them. You can use this information, for example, to see whether anyone who visits your site still uses Netscape 4. If no one does, that's one less browser you have to design for.

    Unfortunately, you'll discover that what works on one browser/operating system combination may not work on another. That's why you should preview your designs early in the process of constructing your site. If you design a page that doesn't work well in Internet Explorer 6 on Windows, for example, it's better to catch and fix that problem immediately than discover it after you've built 100 pages based on that design.

  • Check pages in a range of browsers. Dreamweaver's Check Browser Support command (see Section 15.2) is a helpful diagnostic tool; it analyzes the code of your Web pages and checks for compatibility with various versions of a handful of Web browsers.

    Once again, take this step early in the process of building your site. After completing a preliminary design for your home page, for example, use this tool to see if the code will work in the browsers you're aiming for.

  • Validate your pages. Dreamweaver MX 2004 includes a tool that lets you compare your Web pages against agreed-upon standards for HTML and other Web languages. It checks to make sure your pages are valid (that they conform to these standards).

    Valid pages are more likely to work on all Web browsers梟ot just Internet Explorer. And if you envision your site on such mobile devices such as cellphones and palmtops, valid pages are again a better bet. In fact, you can even validate your Web pages to see if they conform to Wireless Markup Language (WML).

  • Check for accessibility. Not everyone experiences the Web in the same way. People with poor vision, for example, will miss out on the beautiful, full-color banner and navigation buttons you've created. To help you build Web sites that don't shut out people with disabilities, Dreamweaver MX 2004 can check your Web site to make sure it conforms to Section 508 (a Federal regulation mandating that Web sites built by or for the Federal Government are accessible to those with disabilities).

Some troubleshooting steps should come at the end of the process, when a page (or entire site) is ready to be moved to a Web server:

  • Check spelling on your pages. Amazingly, this simple step is often overlooked. As a result, it's easy to find otherwise professional looking Web pages on the Internet that are undermined by sloppy spelling. To learn how to use Dreamweaver's builtin spell checker, see Section 2.4.

  • Check your links. As the name indicates, a Web site can be a complex and twisted collection of interconnected files. Web pages, graphics, Flash movies, and other types of files all work together. Unfortunately, if one file is moved or deleted, problems can ripple through the entire site. Use Dreamweaver's Check Links command to identify and fix broken links (see Section 15.4).

  • Run site reports. It's always the little things. When building a Web site, small errors inevitably creep into your pages. While not necessarily life-threatening, forgetting to title a Web page or to add an Alt property to an image does diminish the quality and professionalism of a site. Use Dreamweaver's site-reporting feature to quickly identify these problems (see Section 15.6).

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