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Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

How We Run our Site




Summary: We use simple, fast-loading pages and minimal graphics to speed downloads. Our site serves up helmet info to nearly a million visitors each year.


Web Design

This is an information site. Our primary goal here is accessibility for those with any browser or connection speed. We optimize our page design for that. We do not use graphical pages, Java and the enhanced html functions on our site unless we can confirm that the design will not be slower and will still look reasonable on a variety of browsers. We browse other sites with scripts, Java, Flash and Active-X turned off for malware protection, and assume our viewers may as well. Some even have graphics turned off for quicker downloads when they use slow connections. And some browse from limited platforms like cell phones and Blackberries.

In short, we refuse to write off anybody who wants helmet info!

Since many people who want helmet info still have slow connections, we keep our pages lean by using a very plain html style and letting your browser do the formatting work. (Saving our pages in Front Page would increase the file size by 260 percent.) We keep our graphics intentionally lean to make our pages load faster, and total graphic load is only about 4 per cent of the bytes our server sends. Each of our pages sets up the locations of the graphics files when the initial text file downloads so that you can read text immediately on a slow link while the graphics are still filling in. Nothing on this site will ever blink, scroll, flash or jump, and we will never use popups. We never use cookies. We don't disable any browser function to keep you from backing out when you want to. If we move or remove a page we ensure a persistent link by providing a referral page like this one, so if you want to link to our pages you can be sure the link will still work years from now.


No Tweets, No Faces

We do not find the Web 2.0 and social networking systems useful to put helmet info in your hands when you need it. The overhead involved in Facebook, Twitter and other social networking is enormous, and we are not willing to spend our precious volunteer time that way.


Our Graphics

Our shopping bag and shopping cart graphics are copyrighted by the artist, Nancy Olds. The illustration on our children's pamphlet is also copyrighted by the artist, Kerry Caffrey. But feel free to duplicate the pamphlets that include them for any non-profit use. You can use our copyrighted BHSI logo on web pages next to links to us, as we have used logos from other sites on our links page.


Visitors

Here are some stats on our Web server. We are serving nearly three million pages to nearly a million visitors each year. Those visitors are actively looking for helmet info, not just passively receiving something we hand them on paper.


Privacy Policy

We have a page explaining our Privacy Policy. In short, we don't collect info on you. Your machine address is identified in the standard server log of ip requests, but we don't ask for anything more from your browser. We don't send you anything unless you request it, and don't share any email addresses with anybody for any reason. We will never give your address to a spammer, although spammers may send a bogus message that appears to come from here by spoofing our publicly posted info address. You can always contribute to support our work, but we don't send appeals out asking you to, because we keep our budget low and enough of you do make donations without filling your inbox with appeals.


Our Link to the Internet

From 1995 to 2001 our Ethernet network here at BHSI was hard-wired to the Internet with a permanent connection to Performance Systems International (PSI Net--gone but not forgotten). In 2000 we upgraded our POTS line to a DSL link. We moved to Atlantech in May, 2001. We now have a fiber optic link with Verizon.

Our Web Server

For the first six years we ran our own Web server on our office LAN, but in 2001 we moved the hosting of our Web page to Pair Networks. They have a very large server farm in Pittsburgh, PA, hosting more than 180,000 pages. They are connected to multiple Internet backbones, and have power backup and all the other features needed to be ultra reliable. We find their user interface very well developed and easy to use. Their prices are low, but they have been profitable since 1995. Download speed has been very good, reliability is tops, and we are pleased with Pair. They have a page that showcases some of the sites they run. We used our network watcher workstation to monitor some of those sites every three minutes for about three months before deciding to go with them. We continue to monitor our server and two others with the same monitor software. Dropouts have been rare, never longer than 10 to 12 minutes and generally associated with a reboot of the server, sometimes for a system upgrade. At this point, dropouts detected are more often on our own office connection than the Pair server. We finally moved our SMTP mail service to pair in 2006, completing the shutdown of servers here on the office network.

Monitoring

We use Caravelle's WebWatch to monitor our servers and page us with a text message if anything goes down, but we don't really recommend it unless you are addicted to fiddly systems work. It does a nice job of keeping up with our remote Web and mail servers, but was a pain to set up. Caravelle is out of business now.

Our Domain Names

We run two domains for our Web page and email: bhsi.org was our original, and we added helmets.org as well, since people had a hard time remembering our initials. Both addresses call up the same files from the same physical machine. Unfortunately, there are .com and .net domains for both of our .org domain names, and several other similar names as well. Many of them seem to be serving up ads. As search engines became popular, domain names became much less critical than they used to be, and the key to finding us now is having our page at the top of the Google list for a "bike helmet" search.

Search

The search function for our site is handled for us by . We are pleased with their ad-free service.


Feedback and Suggestions

We love to get
feedback by email if you have ideas on our page design that would not involve bulking up with graphics and slowing downloads for people on narrow band modem connections. And if you want to volunteer like us and donate those ideas rather than be paid for them. We are genuinely pleased to be informed of problems on our site--something you found unclear, a typo, a bad link, or whatever.


This page was last revised on: January 15, 2010.

Contact us.

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