Hints for creating an ABBA website

There are literally hundreds of ABBA websites out there on the internet. If you're thinking of creating one, here's a few hints that I hope will help you.

Make your site unique. There's an overload of sites with ABBA's basic discography, lyrics to their songs, well known pictures, MP3 files, etc. For example, try creating a site that's specific to your own country, or a detailed tribute to a particular song or album (but don't just regurgitate the contents of The Complete Recording Sessions or CD liner notes). And be creative, don't just title it "ABBA" - give it a title that describes the contents or intent.

Make it interesting so that visitors will want to return. No one really cares to read that you have ABBA Gold, your favourite song is Dancing Queen, Agnetha is your favourite member and this is your favourite picture of ABBA. A site needs more than that to create interest. The promise of further pages, regular updates or having some regularly changing feature will encourage return visits, providing of course that you update your site as promised.

Don't make pages too long. Many visitors to your site may get bored scrolling through long pages of text. Break them up into smaller pages linked together, for example breaking pages at each year or different topic.

Make text clear and easy to read. Keep the use of bold or italics text to a minimum. Don't -centre- all the text, as it can be hard to follow, though centred text can be quite effective for headings, captions or links. Don't make all of the text too big or too small - use larger text only for headings or to break up text. Avoid using too many fancy fonts - many visitors to your site may not have those fonts loaded, and will see text in default fonts such as Times New Roman or Arial.

Don't fill pages with too many pictures that take a long time to download. If putting several pictures on a page (for example, record sleeves) consider making them thumbnails, but don't just shrink the full size picture down to thumbnail size - these take just as long to download as a full size picture.

Avoid the use of "busy" background images. This will often make any text hard to read, or the screen too hard to look at.

Keep a consistent look, and don't change the style with every single page in your site. Different looks can be used quite effectively for special sections, but can look shoddy if done too often.

If you're going to use frames, make sure that any external links open either in full screen or a new window. There's nothing more annoying than opening a link within the frame of the referring site. Conversely, try to keep your own site uniform by always opening new pages within the frames rather than full screen or a new window.

Don't "borrow" all of your information from other sites without permission and/or crediting the source. One infamous website a few years ago did exactly this, unfortunately for the owner using information from many of the best known ABBA sites on the web, and the owner was flooded with irate e-mails from the owners of the sites plundered until he removed it. Most site owners are quite happy for information or pictures to be used, providing they have been asked as a courtesy.

Web hosting. If you can, try to avoid free hosting sites. Many these days fill pages with advertising, or even worse generate pop up ads, which can be annoying for many visitors. Even worse, some generate adware which infects visitors' own PCs. Some "free" sites offer premium services which remove the advertising, for a small monthly cost.

Advertise. Create a banner for others to link your site. Promote it on ABBA forums, but don't annoy others by promoting it constantly.

Finally, don't use the official ABBA logo (with the first B reversed). Universal Music Group welcomes all unofficial fan sites, but requests that they don't use the official ABBA logo, to avoid confusion with the official ABBA site.

I've been guilty of many of these "transgressions" myself over the years. Creating a web site is something that's best learned with time, practice and with any assistance that can be sought.

Good luck with your very own ABBA site. If you do create one, please e-mail me so that it can be added to these links pages.

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