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Technical Guide

Introduction

Site Structure

Navigation

Page Layout

Color

Formatting Text

Images

Multimedia

HTML Code

Bibliography

Introduction

Purpose

This guide was produced in conjunction with the development of the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage Web site. Its purpose is to provide guidelines, advice and tips on aspects of Web site development. While it was written for the purpose of producing a major provincial/territorial heritage Web site, it will be useful to groups and organizations developing a smaller section or series for incorporation into a larger site.

This guide is not intended to be a comprehensive reference to the World Wide Web, HTML or the use of multimedia. Those with limited experience in Web site design and development will find basic information and useful guidelines on site structure, page layout, site navigation, text formatting, the use of graphics and other media, and HTML code.

Good Web Site Design

The primary concern in Web site design is to attract and hold the userís attention. A well-designed home page, the point of entry to your site, is the key to attracting interest in the content. The top of the home page is the first thing a user sees when he or she visits your site. Visual appeal is important but the decision to use large graphics must be balanced with loading time. In addition, the home page must clearly convey the content of the site and the source of the information.

Beyond the home page, it is important that each individual page throughout the site is easily accessible and can be identified as being part of the whole. Given the nature of the World Wide Web and hyperlinked documents it is easy for a user to become lost, confused or disorientated. The use of a well designed and consistent page layout and navigation aids, a unifying visual design and a logical structure will:

  • provide users with a sense of knowing where they are,
  • enable users to quickly and easily identify the content and understand the organization of information on a page, and
  • make the site easy to use or navigate from one piece of information to another.

In addition to having an attractive page design and an easy to understand and navigate site structure, a well-designed Web site will accommodate various configurations of computer systems, browsers, modem speeds and bandwidths. This includes consideration of page layout and file size, careful HTML coding, and the appropriate use of multimedia.

Getting Started

Developing any World Wide Web site is a big task. It takes the efforts of a team of people with a variety of skills, including:

  • project manager,
  • content expert,
  • writer,
  • editor,
  • graphic designer, and
  • programmer.

The planning process is the most important. Before any work begins on the construction of the site, it is important that the following are clearly defined and understood by all team members:

  • goals and objectives,
  • audience,
  • content, and
  • content organization.

Each of the above is an influencing factor on the layout, visual design, writing style and navigation of the site.

The tools necessary for the development of a World Wide Web site include:

  • word processing software (for writing and editing content)
  • HTML editor or converter (for formatting documents in HTML code for the Web)
  • Web browser (for viewing HTML documents)
  • scanner (for digitizing visual material)
  • bitmap editing and drawing software (for editing visual material and creating original graphics)
  • specialized hardware and software for digitizing audio and video if the inclusion of multimedia is being considered

Individual browsers and their different versions can each interpret and display HTML code differently. It is a good idea to check your pages to make sure they look good in a variety of browsers on both PC and Macintosh platforms.

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