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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) June 22, 2000


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http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. CONTEST: Submit & Win XMetaL 2.0! 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Design and Content Tips 3. NET NEWS: * Microsoft Brewing Java-like Language * Web Pages From Photoshop Files * Intel Joins Device Market With Dot.Station * New Allure Forms Makes Databases Interactive * U.K. Firm Claims Patent on Hyperlinks

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. CONTEST: Submit & Win XMetaL 2.0!

Every Thursday the Update features a new feature article contributed by our readers through our Open Publishing Initiative. It's a great chance to get your voice heard by almost 100,000 readers.

And now, it's also a great chance to walk away with a brand new copy of XMetaL 2.0 from SoftQuad! The upcoming version of this popular XML editor has a ton of new features, and all you have to do to get a copy is get published in the WebRef Update. Submit your article today!


This week, writer Peggie Brown gives us her design and content tips for a successful Web presence. As the first winner of our new Submit & Win contest, she'll also be receiving a copy of XMetal 2.0! Thanks Peggie, and enjoy the software.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Design and Content Tips

A Web developer needs to wear many hats these days, from programmer to PR rep to market researcher. Making your site all it can be involves much more than putting together a few graphics and your contact information on a single index.html page. In this week's open publishing article, writer Peggie Brown offers us useful tips for creating and maintaining your Web site.


Categories help your visitor move about your site quickly and efficiently. If visitors get frustrated, chances are they will lose interest and find a site easier to navigate. Well-defined categories often require a lot of planning and quite a bit of thought, but the time is well spent. Well-defined categories may mean the difference between a buyer and someone who just surfs on in frustration.

>Be A Site Visitor

First, we mean that you should pay attention to details when you visit other sites. Note navigation that works, what entices you to look further and what frustrates you to the point of irritation. Next, we suggest you put yourself in the shoes of your target site visitor. What do you want to find and how do you go about finding it? Pretend a little here, forget that you have ever seen the site before or that you know its content. Really challenge yourself to find what doesn't work well. Look for intuitive ways to find site content. What clues are used to get you where you want to go?

Get opinions from others and then listen well. It's hard to take criticism, but you really need people to surf about the site and tell you what does not work for them. When you hear "I couldn't find my way home," don't chalk it up to them being an idiot not able to find their way out of a paper bag. Instead, realize that while clicking on the banner with the logo seemed obvious to you, it wasn't to someone else.

>Consistency and Predictability

Sounds pretty boring, doesn't it? We all want to make our site just a tad different and try new things. But listen up! Try your creativity when writing your content, designing your graphics, choosing your colors (but nothing ugly!), customizing your content. Do not try it with your navigation system. Visitors don't like to figure out how to move about a site. Surfers want predictable and consistent navigation, so stick with it and be creative elsewhere. Many want to move about quickly and if you do not allow them to do so, they'll be off in a flash! After all, navigation is not where you want your visitors to focus.

Speaking of navigation, have two different systems with at least one navigation system not dependent on graphics. Not everyone surfs with images on and many sight disabled people do surf the Internet.

>Loud Colors Do Not Equal Creativity

Creative design does not mean you should make your visitors pull out there sunglasses or run off to throw up! Cutting edge design work does not mean using colors no one else would think of using. Nor does it mean showing that you can use every font color available. Believe it or not, cutting edge designs are often so simplistic that others miss the boat with their gee-whiz effects and whirling graphics. Unless you are selling graphics, you certainly don't want your graphics and visual effects to down- play your content. Images and colors are enhancements, not the main focal point of a site.


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>Use Technology as a Friend, Not a Distracter

Once again, there is a lot to be said for simplicity and subtlety. New technologies are developed every day, but this doesn't mean that you have to incorporate each and every one in your site to demonstrate your abilities. Indeed, some technology is overused. Let's rephrase that - most new technology is overused at the beginning. Everyone wants to show their ability to grasp the latest and greatest and unfortunately, their attempts usually go overboard until they lose their fascination of the new look. For example, a bit of Flash is nice in the right place at the right time for the right site. But, be wise, a 4 minute Flash movie feels like an hour and a half on the Internet. Not too many people are going to wait around for it. Don't get me wrong, Flash is cool, but a little Flash goes a long way. More importantly, Flash is just not right for many sites.

In essence you get to experience what every cook has experienced for years - it takes hours to make, but people want to consume it in a very short period of time. Don't try to elongate their experience.

While we are speaking about technology and things going a long way, unless you are a musician or selling music, please opt out of music files. Most of us have a different preference in music. Should we want music while we surf, we play our own. Audio files slow your page loads and irritate many visitors. Some of us surf late at night and don't wish to wake our households to the tunes of Doggy Dog. Having said that, there are places where music is just the right touch. If you really believe your site is the place (and please think this over long and hard), tone it down with options for increasing volume if necessary and give surfers the chance to opt out quickly.

>Image Projection

Face it, great site design really is about understanding and conveying an image - a picture that speaks volumes if you will. Again, I'm going to remind you that the subject matter of the site should be the focus, not your really cool design. Through your words, design, navigation system, colors, graphics and technology, you convey an image. Remember this when you first begin planning your site. Before you decide what the site will look like and what it will contain, ask yourself what is the image you want to convey.

The site you design should leave an impression, a feeling. So what is the impression this particular site needs to convey? Do you want people to laugh? Does the company you are designing for have a conservative image (such as a legal site)? What is the purpose of the site's product or service? If you are designing a site for lumberjacks, leave a subtle impression of wood. Remember, don't scream "wood" with tacky, dark, wood paneling, just leave the "feel" of wood with perhaps small graphics of trees and flora, using greens and browns for your site colors and a few small tools used by lumberjacks.

If you are after a professionalism concept, don't shock your visitors with bright colors, flashy graphics, tons of animation and cartoons. Use fine photographs, subtle colors, simplistic mouse-overs and a conservative layout. Use a compelling writing style void of unsubstantiated claims and "used car salesmanship". Check and recheck your spelling, grammar and punctuation. Provide oodles of knowledgeable content, scholarly articles and links to other professional sites with the same type of content. Avoid banner ads and pop-up windows like the plague.

>Repeat Visits

Last but not least, give your visitor a reason to come back. Continually add new content, update your articles, verify site links monthly, offer new contests, newsletters or other content that keeps visitors checking back. Please remember to reward visitors with what they expect (updated content and an ever growing site) when they do return.


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About the author:

Peggie Brown is CEO of KatsueyDesignWorks ">http://www.katsueydesignworks.com> and Katsuey's Legal Gateway .">http://www.katsuey.com>. She specializes in designing and developing content for legal oriented Web sites. She also provides presentations and educational seminars focusing on finding reliable legal information on the Internet and designing successful web sites. Peggie can be reached at katsuey@katsuey.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: Microsoft Brewing Java-like Language, Web Pages From Photoshop Files, Intel Joins Device Market With Dot.Station, New Allure Forms Makes Databases Interactive, U.K. Firm Claims Patent on Hyperlinks

>Microsoft Brewing Java-like Language

Microsoft next week plans to unveil a new, Java-like software programming language intended to simplify the building of Web services using its software. The new language, expected to be called C# and pronounced "C sharp," is designed as an easier-to-use hybrid of C and C++, and is intended to drastically simplify and speed up software development as well as promote the company's Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS) initiative. http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1003-200-2128454.html CNET.com, 000622

>Web Pages From Photoshop Files

Media Lab Inc. recently unveiled PhotoWebber, a new tool for designing interactive Web pages. PhotoWebber automatically converts Adobe Photoshop files into finished Web pages, seamlessly converting each Photoshop file into a Web-ready graphic with complete HTML code. http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,2171,10_397401,00.html InternetNews.com, 000619

>Intel Joins Device Market With Dot.Station

Intel will enter the increasingly crowded field for Internet appliances today with the Dot.Station, a countertop terminal powered by Red Hat Linux that lets people surf the Web, exchange emails and make phone calls. http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1006-200-2127604.html CNET.com, 000622

>New Allure Forms Makes Databases Interactive

Commence Corp., a provider of e-business solutions for small- and medium-sized businesses, this week released its new Web-based forms solution. Allure Forms allows organizations to instantly capture information from their Web sites and link it directly to back-end databases. http://www.internetnews.com/wd-news/article/0,2171,10_399911,00.html InternetNews.com, 000621

>U.K. Firm Claims Legal Rights to Hyperlinks

British Telecom says it invented the hyperlink technology used on the Internet and that it has a U.S. patent to prove it. As a result, it is asking U.S. Internet service providers to pay for the privilege of using the technology. http://www.thestandard.com/article/display/0,1151,16209,00.html TheStandard.com, 000621

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com mailto:update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com mailto:ecook@internet.com

Catherine Levy Assistant Editor, WebReference.com mailto:clevy@internet.com

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