Basic Rules for Naming Files and Folders

  1. Always use lower-case letters a through z. Getting into this habit will save you from worrying about whether the URL contains MyFriends, MyFRIENDS, MyFrIeNdS, etc.
  2. Never use spaces in file names. Both Windows and Macintosh systems encourage us to use spaces in our file names. This is fine for Windows and Mac, but not fine for Web servers and Web browsers. The %20 that shows up in URLs like is your browser and a web server trying to compensate for the space. As you can see, the compensation makes the URL even harder to read.
  3. If you want the effect of a space, use the hyphen: - . It can be helpful, especially in longer file names, to have words separated visually. Use the hyphen to achieve this: Although one could use the underscore, too, (_), the underscore is usually impossible to detect in URLs that are underlined, as in a default hyperlink. Underscores can also cause problems in certain programming languages if it becomes necessary to refer to an external file. Play it safe, use the hyphen.
  4. Use numbers with a leading zero. Large, serialized collections of files can be named using numbers to distinguish them, e.g., photo-01, photo-02, photo-03. But use a leading zero (and perhaps a hyphen, too). This will help computers list the files in the order you intend. If you know you'll have less than 100 of something, start with 01 (01-99); if you know you'll have less than 1000 of something, start with 001 (001-999); and so on. On some systems, 2 (rather than 02) will be listed between 19 and 20 (...18, 19, 2, 20...28, 29, 3, 30...), which undercuts the value of serialization.
  5. In short, never use any characters besides a-z, 0-9, and the hyphenj when naming files and folders/directories. Again, this is a very conservative approach. But certain characters appearing in URLs, like the ? (question mark), & (ampersand), and = (equal sign), have very special meanings that have nothing to do with file names. Play it safe; it'll save you hours of frustration.


Session Summary

  1. Provide a context rich site map that gives an overview of the whole site
  2. For large sites provide section (or departmental) site maps
  3. Use headings to divide large site maps into categories
  4. For individual content pages provide the minimum of links before your content
  5. Enable users to jump over lists of links (provide a "skip to.." link)
  6. Navigation systems should be consistent across the site
  7. Links should change colour or style (but not size) when focused by either mouse or keyboard users
  8. There should be a "non-linking" gap between each adjacent link
  9. Pull-down menus need to be applied with great care and alternative methods of navigation must be available
  10. A "breadcrumb trail" helps visitors orientate themselves within the site structure
  11. Link text must be meaningful and in dependant of surrounding context
  12. Links to non-html documents must warn the user and indicate the download size of the document
  13. The title attribute is useful, but not universally accessible so must not be relied upon
  14. Images used as links must have meaningful alternative text tags
  15. Do not use javascript to activate links
  16. Try to limit the number of links on a content page