Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol by Peter Frost 

Creating Web Pages

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This page covers what you should look for when picking a web page writer to create your web pages. The do it yourself options are at the end of the page.

You may have some idea of the web design you want. That is: colours, font sizes even a rough layout of what goes where on the web page from the web site design page. Together with your content organised into web pages - including key words and perhaps even images ready to be put into the content.

If you have done that, frankly you have done a good part of the web design work and deserve a good discount. If you try for one and don't get one put those web page writers on hold and try elsewhere.

If you want to leave all that to a designer, its not a problem its what most do. Be prepared for lots of questions from the web page writer/designer. You are the expert on your content not them and they will usually be guided by what you like for layout too.

Good Practice in Web Page Writing

The following points are all considered good practice in web page design. Any good web page writer/designer should be able to produce a web site that: -

  • Uses an External Cascading Style Sheet (css): There are a large number of benefits in doing this, one of which is that you can change a whole site by making one change to the style sheet.

  • Does not use fixed format font sizes: Remember the accessibility issues.

  • Are the pages W3C Complaint: These are a group of standards set by the world wide web consortium. It is a indication of quality and means the page is likely to look the same in most browsers.

    Valid HTML 4.01!

Choosing a Web Page Writer/Designer

Get the web page writer/designer to confirm that they will supply a web site that follows the three good practice principles above. If they can't ask them why not, I would be interest in their answers.

Beyond that its the usual methods of evaluating an unknown supplier, some of those are:

  • Ask for references - online reference sites.
  • Ask friends/colleagues for word of mouth recommendations.
  • Last but not least cost.

If you are going to ask the web page writer to put the site online for you see web hosting. Don't forget any annual running costs and the charges to make any changes after the site goes live.

The Do It Yourself Options

You can produce informative and quite attractive web pages with a little knowledge of HTML or by using a web design package.

They won't be professional unless you have a good knowledge of HTML or can use a good quality web design package (such as Dreamweaver). If its not a professional site though have a go.

If you want to go the DIY route, there are two categories: -

  • HTML: That is Hyper Text Markup Language, its been around for some time now, its widely taught with many people having some knowledge of its use.

    For a small site, the basics are to get the first page as you want it. Then use the first page as a template (that is copy it and amend it) for the other pages. Most of the orange section for this site is common on all pages.

    HTML is a programming language but its one of the simpler ones and reasonably easy to understand. Its based on diamond bracket tags (also known as markup) most in the form:-

    <tag>display something</tag>

    Here are some simple examples:-

    • Bold: start tag <b> and close tag with </b>

      <b>This text is Bold</b> = This text is Bold

    • Small: start tag <small> and close tag with </small>

      <small>This text is Small</small> = This text is Small

    • Combining Tags:

      <small><b>Small Bold Text</b></small> = Small Bold Text
      <small><small>Very Small Text</small></small> = Very Small Text

    There are plenty of online free resources to learn the basics too, like:

    W3Schools - HTML online Tutorial.

  • Web Design Software Packages: Try before you buy, many products can be downloaded on a trial basis.

    As a general rule: The low end products are usually easy to use but inflexible, with the high end products (such a Dreamweaver) very flexible but taking time to acquire the skills to use.

    For a free set of tutorials try Macromedia Dreamweaver Tutorials.

Testing

Test your web pages too, check that all of the links work. Always test with the most widely used browser, that is - Internet Explorer.

At a basic level you are unlikely to find your pages look very different in the less common browsers. As you progress though try viewing your pages with the Firefox browser (Opera too if you have time) they sometimes show pages differently!

Its a good idea to test your page at different window sizes as well, click and hold the mouse key down on a corner or edge of the page then drag the border in or out to see what the page looks like in smaller and larger windows.

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