Essay1/pg2- So you've never designed a Web page | WebReference

Essay1/pg2- So you've never designed a Web page


You're a Designer and You've NEVER...


Then The Strategy...

So now that you see a glimmer of hope that you can plug yourself into the Web design arena, what do you do next? Like anything else, you need to start with the basics and ignore the distracting details until they become relevant. Pay no attention to the latest buzzwords, such as DHTML, XML, and e-Commerce. These things will position themselves properly over time, but to start with, you need the basic building blocks.

One good first step is to get a really good HTML book. With so many on the shelves these days, how do you know which is good? A basic suggestion is to pick one that’s readable, and goes beyond the pragmatic listing of code, and actually tells you why things happen as they do. My personal recommendation is "HTML, The Definitive Guide" by Musciano and Kennedy, published by O’Reilly and Associates. I bought three other HTML books before getting this one, and I threw them all away afterwards. There wasn’t a single question this one couldn’t clarify.

With a good book in hand and an HTML editor you’re comfortable with, start by building a few basic pages, using text, images, and a basic navigational system. Add some links from one page to another, and throw in a footer with copyright information. Once you’ve gotten this far, you have a basic understanding of how a page is constructed, and of the various navigational and dynamic components.

Once you have a basic site together, look for ways to upgrade and enhance it. You should look at your site as a work in progress... keep it evolving and moving forward. When you see a feature you like, such as an animation technique or frameset, add it to your site. To appropriate components and make them your own, you should follow the steps below:

1- Look at the source code- Select View>Page Source to look at the code that makes up the current page you are looking at.

2- Look for online resources- Although there are numerous sites that provide helpful, step by step content, you’ll forgive my biased opinion that the best place to start is The Webreference editors have pulled together the best in scripting, HTML, e-commerce, and more, combined with the latest news from You could learn all you need to know from this one URL. (I know this sounds a bit like a Webreference love-fest, but you must understand that it buy’s me more time on my deadlines…right Andy?; )

3- Keep your eye on Internet developments- There is so much being written about the Web that keeping up with it could become a full time job if you let it. While I’m not suggesting that, I do think that keeping your eye on what’s coming can give you perspective and help you focus on what’s relative to your own objectives.

...And the Basic Information.

So how do you get started? How big should your page be? How large should the download be? What browsers should you plan on supporting? You need a basic handle on these before you can even get started with things. The brief list of points below should get you on the right track:

  • Plan for a page size of 7"x9". This basic size is supported by smaller monitors and looks fine on the larger ones.

  • Use serif typefaces for body text and sans-serif for headlines.

  • Don’t even try to use specific fonts or formatting for at least the first 25 pages you create.

  • Keep page sizes to less than 70K. Keep them under 40K and your audience will stick around even longer. The home page could be a bit larger than the others, but don’t use this as a license to bloat.

  • Use JPEG files for photos, and GIF files for graphics.

  • Generally speaking, Microsoft Explorer users are very current, with a majority using version 4.0. A few are using 3.0, and 2.0 is a minor consideration. The same is true of Netscape, although there are more 3.0 Netscape users than Microsoft.


Created: Nov. 7, 1998
Revised: Nov. 7, 1998