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 thats 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 OReilly and Associates. I bought
three other HTML books before getting this one, and I threw
them all away afterwards. There wasnt a single question
this one couldnt clarify.
With a good book in hand and an HTML editor youre 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 youve 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
2- Look for online resources- Although there are numerous
sites that provide helpful, step by step content, youll
forgive my biased opinion that the best place to start is
webreference.com. The Webreference editors have pulled together
the best in scripting, HTML, e-commerce, and more, combined
with the latest news from internet.com. 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 buys me more time on my deadlines
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 Im not suggesting
that, I do think that keeping your eye on whats coming
can give you perspective and help you focus on whats
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
- Dont 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 dont
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.