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Old 02-01-2008, 03:10 PM   #1
CrashTestRacer
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Default Web developers, please critique

The story here has changed considerable since I first posted this, so in case you're interested,
CN:
Tracking down excessive /404 hits revealed a much bigger problem with our website thanks to some OTers- it does not display in a usable form on IE6. His response is that it would take too much to fix it, and that we should advise IE6 users to update before viewing our website... Does this sound like a professional web developer??

*****
For those in a hurry, what does this mean?

We have located the source of the 404 – it’s referencing a transparent gif which is part of the header on each page. Because using includes the path may contain an extra “../” because the header is located in the includes folder. Although it references a view it is not necessarily a human view.



I need a second opinion on this exchange I've had with our web developer.

We've just gone through a re-design, and I've noticed a sharp increase in the number of /404 hits. I'll just paste in the email's so you guys can give me your opinion on his assessment. It makes no sense to me, but I'm a web novice...

--------------------My email-------------------

All,

Attached is January's web site report. The first full month with the new website.

Good news is that unique visitors is up from an average of 650/month last year to 868 for last month.

I did notice that the second most viewed page on the website is /404! That's the page you get when there is a bad link somewhere (inside or outside the website) That's not good. People tend to go away after getting that page... It was "viewed" 901 times last month.

Has anyone run a link checking program on the new website to be sure that all links are good? Could you run one now? Also, is there code in place to re-direct people getting /404 to our homepage?

--------------------His Response-------------------

The 404 page was customized with all site navigation from the beginning for this issue. Have you actually seen the 404 page?

This issue is also completely commonplace after a site redesign. I believe is was at your request to not have a separate page for narrow and wide web cleaners.

So of course there were a couple of pages removed – again, common for redesign but planned for from the beginning. That’s what happens If Google is still indexing those pages.

--------------------My Response-------------------

I had not actually seen the /404 page. It looks good.

It appears that there are only a couple bad links on the site. We would like those fixed, but I don't see how that could account for so many /404 hits. Out of 901, the stats indicate that 229 are entry, which implies the rest are internal links, though I'm not sure I always trust awstats.

The point is we need to know how people are ending up on that page. It is almost as popular a page as our home page!

I'm not sure how I should expect a lot of /404 hits because we request layout changes. If there are pages from the old site that arn't on the new site, then those pages should be re-directed to the most closely relavent page of the new site, not the /404 page. This would eliminate any problems with google indexing or folks' internet favorites. Has this been done?

Can we log the referring page for all /404 hits? This would help us to find out if there really is a problem, or if there is something confusing going on with the stats.

I would much rather be proactive in this than follow a do nothing - this is normal approach.

--------------------His Last Response-------------------

We have located the source of the 404 – it’s referencing a transparent gif which is part of the header on each page. Because using includes the path may contain an extra “../” because the header is located in the includes folder. Although it references a view it is not necessarily a human view.

This is a server response that AW Stats is logging over a transparent image. At this time I will consider this non issue as far as visitor usability. We will look into excluding that image URL from the stats.

No need to worry over this – what does remain is the greater visitor traffic. Pay more attention to the index page view. This is a better indicator of site abandonment and from what I see is quite low.
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Last edited by CrashTestRacer; 02-12-2008 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:12 PM   #2
sonomaxj
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Web spiders are crawling the site and somehow finding a link or an index of that transparent image, that apparently has a broken path.

Post the URL, or PM it to me so I can show you how to correct the code. It's using a relative string when it shouldn't it looks like.
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:17 PM   #3
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Sounds like their sloppy coding is resulting in an image not coming up. That will slow page load times as the browser tries to retrieve the image. They should fix it. Overall it is likely not something people are seeing, if anything they might be seeing a broken image tag. (Not sure if what he is saying about it just being a 404 for logs is true for your site)

Of more importance is that he seems to be a moron with regards to search engines. You don't want Google crawling pages that don't exist and getting a 404. You should have 301 permanent redirects to where the page moved to or a relevant page. Otherwise it will cost you in your Google search results.
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:20 PM   #4
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If you hired developers to create the site, it's 100% their fault and responsibility. They should fix it. It doesn't pose a danger to anyone, but still it's a mistake.
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:36 PM   #5
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Default

Thanks,

From what the stats say (awstats) It isn't counting bots in their numbers, so I'm worried it is real people seeing it. Though I can only find one bad link after having a couple link checkers crawl it.

I have a hard time understanding how a transparent gif is causing redirects to /404. It makes no sense to me... (or why there's a damn invisible image anywhere!)

Last edited by CrashTestRacer; 05-19-2009 at 02:34 PM.
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:43 PM   #6
sonomaxj
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It's this image "/images/trans_gif.gif"

It's got a relative path, which it shouldn't have. It's an easy fix, and they need to do it.

Also there are several CSS errors with invalid properties. They should fix those too, as it's causing the page to not validate.

Lastly, they are using an incorrect DOCTYPE, or at least need to structure their XHTML to fit, because right now the page has 159 HTML validation errors, mostly from improperly closed tags.

These are amateur mistakes. They need to fix these before they get paid.
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:46 PM   #7
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I would ask how many hits do you have to this page:

http://www.polymagtek.com/404.htm
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:47 PM   #8
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The fact that they list search engine optimization as a service they perform revolts me. What kind of moron ignores pages that have been moved or no longer exist and figure that it won't impact search traffic. This is 101 level stuff they are ignoring.

Also they have no H1 which is pretty important for search engines. More stuff that is not exactly a secret and and SEO place should be doing.
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:50 PM   #9
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Actually something else is going on here... let me look at it.
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:52 PM   #10
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Is it me, or does this site look a lot different in IE6 than in FF?

Last edited by NO PULSE; 02-01-2008 at 03:54 PM. Reason: Added more detail to my question.
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:53 PM   #11
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Using a transparent image is a common way of setting height and width for an element. It's a lazy technique and usually means they don't know how CSS works. Fix the path and it'll fix the problem,
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:54 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NO PULSE View Post
Is it me, or does this site look a lot different in IE6 than in FF?
The main menu doesn't work in IE6. Oh crap. I bet that will be 75% or more of your traffic that is getting a totally messed up navigation. Did they do ANY testing before launch?
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:55 PM   #13
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Okay so it looks like they are taking that transparent gif and stretching it across the logo to be the home link. You don't need a gif to do this, so they should kill it altogether. If you just use a div, and then in the CSS make it "display:block;" it will work just fine.

Also, yeah the entire menu system doesn't work in IE6, so I hope the site isn't live yet. No one can really access the sub menus.
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:56 PM   #14
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http://www.polymagtek.com/Web/flexopress.htm -- view that in FF and then IE6. Notice a difference?
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:56 PM   #15
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I need to give this guy a specific set of things to do, because whenever I suggest something, he knows better...

I don't have IE6, so does it look different??? huh.

Could this thing with trans_gif cause /404 hits?
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:57 PM   #16
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Holy crap, it doesn't work with IE6!!

I need to get on this. It's worse then I thought.

You folks are a huge help!
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:58 PM   #17
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Wow! I really need to start doing some consulting if this is the type of crap _still_ being put out on the web....
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:58 PM   #18
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:59 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrashTestRacer View Post
I need to give this guy a specific set of things to do, because whenever I suggest something, he knows better...

I don't have IE6, so does it look different??? huh.

Could this thing with trans_gif cause /404 hits?
Not only does your menu basically not work in IE6, but pages are coming up looking totally messed up in IE6. You need to get a PC with IE6 and navigate your site. This is completely unacceptable and if it is live, should be priority 1 for being fixed. Honestly, the .gif issue is nothing compared to some of the other stuff wrong. In terms of needing to be fixed:

1. Menu doesn't work in IE6
2. Any pages that have moved or been deleted need 301 permanent redirects
3. Some pages have serious display issues in IE6
4. Clear .gif issue
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:59 PM   #20
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And yes, the relative path will cause a 404 hit. From my link checker:

http://www.polymagtek.com/../images/trans_gif.gif
What to do: Usually the sign of a malformed URL that cannot be parsed by the server.
Response status code: 400
Response message: Bad Request
Line: 19
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Old 02-01-2008, 03:59 PM   #21
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If he says anything that doesn't make sense or sounds fishy post up here, I'd like to see how this progresses.
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Old 02-01-2008, 04:00 PM   #22
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sonomaxj -- can you toss up a screen grab of: http://www.polymagtek.com/Web/flexopress.htm in IE6?
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Old 02-01-2008, 04:00 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sorbee711 View Post
Not only does your menu basically not work in IE6, but pages are coming up looking totally messed up in IE6. You need to get a PC with IE6 and navigate your site. This is completely unacceptable and if it is live, should be priority 1 for being fixed. Honestly, the .gif issue is nothing compared to some of the other stuff wrong. In terms of needing to be fixed:

1. Menu doesn't work in IE6
2. Any pages that have moved or been deleted need 301 permanent redirects
3. Some pages have serious display issues in IE6
4. Clear .gif issue
5. Fix CSS, fill out properties that are empty
6. Choose the HTML 4.0 DOCTYPE, or fix all improperly closed links to stick with XHTML DOCTYPE
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Old 02-01-2008, 04:00 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riot Type WRX View Post
If he says anything that doesn't make sense or sounds fishy post up here, I'd like to see how this progresses.
Im sure everyone in this thread is curious... *subscribed*
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Old 02-01-2008, 04:02 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sorbee711 View Post
sonomaxj -- can you toss up a screen grab of: http://www.polymagtek.com/Web/flexopress.htm in IE6?
Thats going to be a long screen grab, cause I dont see anything until i move past the left hand area... heh
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