Hints for Creating Web Pages
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When creating a web page for personal or organizational interests, if you are aspiring to find out the ways to render the pages that best fit their purposes, handling the job with a methodical approach that is subject to the generally accepted standards and principles of web page creation, may accelerate the fullfilment of that aspiration. This article intends to provide the reader with some useful tips and hints about the methods of creating web pages.

The recommended method for creating a web page:

The creation of a web page is comprised of three stages: Planning, Design and Maintenance.

  • Planning: Planning a web site is an important part of web development. Before creating a web page, you should be able to well articulate the objectives of the web page and the target audience.
  • The purpose of the web site: The web pages can be created to provide information about a person/an organization or to promote a person/an organization, or to communicate with specific users, or to serve for the purposes of interactivity. It is important to work out the purpose of the site clearly and to proceed with the development and design stages later on. Otherwise, the users that visit the pages for the first time may get confused about what he/she may find out on the site; this may lead to a frustration on the part of the visitor and he/she may decide not to visit the page once again. For instance, using too much images with large sizes on a page that aims to be informative, may cause a burden about the accessibility of the page and the user may not be able to access the information he/she wants at the right time.

  • Target audience: It is also equally important to work out and define the intended audiences of the site. This stage is vitally important in terms of the user experience. You should be able to calculate, for example, how to address an audience who are interested in Turkish Music. This will affect your your decison making processes about the technical sophistication of the site, for example, whether you will use too much audio-visual tools or as little technology as possible. Are you going to prepare an interface with colorful and complex menus or a simpler interface which emphasize the textual information? You should be able identify, for example, users' level of computer literacy of technical and expertise in using a website or the information technology infrastructure that they own.
  • Design: After defining your priorities about the objectives of the site and identifying your target audience, you can start the design process of the page. The design phase includes 4 stages. These stages may be gone through succcesively or simultaneously; this depends upon the decision of the designer of the web pages.
  • Design of the content: The first thing the users look for is the content of the web pages when they arrive at a site. Therefore, before creating the visuals of the site, you should carefully plan the outline and structure of the information you will present. Draw a sketch of the content you will present with the main titles and subtitles. This will enable you to put the appropriate information under the suitable headings on your page. By using headings that quickly communicate the contents of sections, you will organize the content in such away that you will enable users to quickly scan through information to find what they want. You will also be able to estimate the approximate number of the pages. After all that content organisation tasks, you should insert the realted information concerning each heading. You should remember to keep the consistency of the site while you are organising your pages and remember that visitors should not get lost within the information you provide for them.

  • Visual Design: After or while designing the information structure of the pages, you can start the designing tasks of the interface. The decisions you have made during the planning processes directly affect the design of the interface. To establish a visual identity you should be able to decide properly about the reasonable amount of logo/image/photograph etc. you will use, you have to choose from color options, you have to decide about where to put the information on the page etc. Of course, to create web pages, individual talent is required and you have to own the skills to use a image/graphis editor programs that will assist you to design visual aspects.

  • Design of the infrastructure: After, or while designing the pages visually, begin thinking about how to transport the pages to the web environment; you should crate a a template page to facilitate the upcoming processes. You should decide about the coding language of the template; whether you will use HTML or other programming/scripting languages like php, java etc. Select one that best accomplishes your goals, that you have the skills and resources to work with, and that your audience can use. Do not forget that it is important to decide well about the technical environment that the web pages will be presented in and the level of dynamism that will be included in the pages. (especially, the person/the organization that will use its own web server should inquire into the oprating system and web server program that best fits the infrastructure used). The web pages that are stable and that are not updated very frequently can be coded with HTML easily; however you may feel obliged to use programming/scripting languages with pages that are very flexible and that must be updated very frequently. After completing the template page and doing the regular checkings, at the first stage all the web pages can be created easily according to the information structure that is defined with the help of this template.

  • Testing: After the completion of the first threee steps of designing stages (design of content, visual design, design of the infrastructure), all the web pages should be tested according to various criteria benfore they are allowed to be viewed publically. If possible, observer users that are chosen from the target audience to test your site to ensure that all the features and funcitons are correctly accessible to few lot of people. They should repeatedly test the site to see if there is an error. There are some most well-known criteria for testing the web pages; for instance web pages can look and behave very differently depending on the browser, operating system, system fonts, screen resolutions, and internet connections, therefore, be sure to test your pages on all targeted browsers platforms, and system settings. Other criteria include; the pages should not navigate very slowly and the navigation should be user friendly, the pages should be readable and they should not confuse the user. The problems or errors encountered during testing should be corrected by going through the steps of the design phase. After all the errors and problems are corrected, the pages are now ready to be publicized.
  • Maintenance: If you have made your web pages public, it does not mean that you have finished all the things you have to do. After the pages are activated, you should especially carry out routine administration activities such as keeping the information updated monitoring/tracking the site activity frequently to correct the errors that may occur. It is important to establish an interactive relationship with the users of the website during the maintenance stage. You should be appreciative to the users that provide you with feedback. If possible, locate a tool on your site with which the users may report errors or their suggestions and opinions about the site. (you can use a form tool for this purpose) If you develop an ongoing relationship with users, they will be more attentive about the site and they will be more likely to offer feedback in the future, which will consequently contribute to the development of the page.
  • Some useful hints about creating web pages:
  • The title of the page
    • The title of the page should consistent with the purpose and the content of the page.
  • The length of the pages
    • If possible you should avoid long pages that cannot be diplayed at a time on the screen (avoid scrolling where it is possible). You should provide the medium for the users to be able navigate between the pages that are reasonable in length and that are appropriately linked to each other, instead of providing them with a single long web page.
    • On the other hand, the web pages should not be very short as well. The short pages that provide links subsequentially to the next pages cause annoyance to the user.
    • You should not forget the fact that web pages are not printed publications.
  • Images
    • The sizes of the image files:
      • It is recommended that the size of the image file should not exceed 12 kilobytes, beacuse the oversized images increase the loading time of the web page (slows down the page).
      • If the big-sized images are going to be used, the small versions of the images can be inserted into the page; so that the users, who wish to see the original-sized version of the image can click on the small-sized version.
    • The quality of the images:
      • The high quality images are relatively big-sized files. Therefore, the high quality images may slow down the web pages. You should produce images that will load quickly.
      • The low quality images do not generally affect the speed of the pages; however, they may affect the overall appearance negatively which may conflict with the purpose and use of the page and may decrease the number of visitors of the page.
      • For all these reasons mentioned above, you should decide and make a compromise about using the images on the web page (whether they are really necessary or not, whether the image quality should be high or low) and you should consider whether the image is really appropriate for its purpose.
    • Image etiquettes:
      • All the required etiquettes (width, height, footer information) of the images should be defined appropriately.
  • Links
    • Texts of the links:
      • The texts that are displayed as links should well define the pages that they link the page to. The users should be enlightened about the page that is being linked to before clicking on the text.
    • Explanations of the links:
      • If you give some brief explanations about the links on the pages, the users will save time since they will be able to find out what he/she wants more quickly.
    • Updating and maintaining the links:
      • All the links should be working and they should be linked to the active pages.
      • You should check the links periodically and correct or remove the ones that are no longer working.
      • You can make use of the tracking reports generated by a software that can tell you the location of broken links.
    • The number of the links:
      • The number of the links on the page should be kept at a level that will not disturb the users of the page.
      • If it is obligatory to use a lot of links on the same page, you had better list these links rather than ordering them in a paragraph.
  • General facts
    • Feedback:
      • To get feedback from the users of the web page, the contact address of the designer of the page and/or a feedback form should be provided on the pages.
    • The updating dates of the pages:
      • If you provide the last date you have updated the pages on the site, the users will feel that the pages are being maintained and taken care regularly. This means that the information on the pages are updated and the adminitsrators of the page are taking their jobs seriously. Frequent updating of the pages is a factor that may encourage the users to visit the pages recurrently.
    • Proper HTML coding:
      • The HTML coding of the pages should be neat, should work properly and should be within the framework of the general standards.
    • Check Spelling/Grammar:
      • All the textual information of the pages should be editted and revised to check if there is a spelling or a grammar mistake.
      • The possible errors should be corrected as soon as possible; the slightest spelling or grammatical error on the pages may affect the overall appearance of the pages negatively which may conflict with the purpose and use of the page.
    • Ethical rules:
      • It is recommended that all kinds of audio visual tools and textual information of the pages are created by the web page designer. If you would like to use the material that is obtained from other sources you must certainly abide by the rules of citation, that is, you should cite the resources you have used or obtain the permission to use the material or idea of people/organisations.
      • The web pages created on METU central servers should conform to METU Computing and Networking Ethics.
  • If you use the search engines, you can find oceans of information about the technical aspects, methods, resources etc. about web page creation on Internet. These resources with a variety of content focusing on different aspects of the web page creation in detail, may help you a great deal with your web page projects. The tips and other information presented in this article may be useful to novice and intermediate level Web designers who are willing to do the job but seeking some advice about the ways and methods of design.


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