Creating your own website Part 3

Over the last couple of weeks we have covered the basic points of making your own webpage and as to continue on the subject, this week I’ll talk about good practices all budding web-designers should cover when constructing their own site:

One of the most important things to remember when designing a website is that not all your viewers will have the same machine specification as you.The following are prime examples of things that you should bear in mind concerning compatibility between different machines…

oAlways attempt to try out your website in several different browsers as they all have a slightly unique way of displaying pages.The two main ones that you need to cater for are Microsoft Internet Explorer (www.microsoft.com/ie) and Netscape Navigator (www.netscape.com).Bear in mind that not all users will have the most up to date version of the software so you should ensure that your page is compatible with earlier versions of these browsers.

oTry to design your site so that it will work on a number of different screen and colour resolutions as it’s little use designing your site around a huge 21” monitor if the majority of your viewers will be accessing it using a tiny 14” screen.

oIf doing a simple site, always try and keep all your filenames in lower case as many websites are case sensitive meaning that if a user types in ‘test1.html’ but you’ve named that particular page ‘Test1.html’ then the browser will return an error.

oIf adding fancy Flash animations, always consider that a large percentage of your readers may not have the appropriate player installed so you should also think about making a version of the page without the animations.For those of you unsure what Flash is, take a look at ‘www.macromedia.com’.

Always think about file sizes when designing your page.There’s nothing more annoying than going to a site and finding that it will take several minutes to load because of a huge picture or sound clip that the author has put onto the page which you don’t particularly want to see or hear anyway.The easiest way to achieve this is as follows:

oAlways save your images as Jpeg files and then use an image compressor to make the file sizes as small as possible while still retaining quality.Please refer to my earlier articles on compression.Also ensure that the actual physical size of the picture you are putting onto your webpage isn’t unreasonably big.For example, there is no purpose in including an image which is approximately A4 size if you are just going to scale it down to around 2 inches in your website editor.

oThere are a number of HTML compressors available free of charge which will remove all unnecessary lines of programming from your webpage to make them as small as possible.Try picking one up free from www.htmlgoodies.com

Always adhere to certain design principles when making up your site.These include:

oDon’t EVER use garish background colours; Mucus green text on a lime green background makes for very difficult reading and looks terrible.

oBackground images should be kept simple as to not distract from your foreground text.

oTry not to underline text as this will make it look as though it is a hyperlink and your readers will get quite annoyed when they try clicking it as they believe it will link them to another page.

oNever insert a sound file into your website that plays automatically.If you give your readers the choice of hearing the music then that is fair enough but there is nothing more frustrating than when you’re listening to your favourite CD or MP3 and a bad remix of the A-Team begins to play in the background without any obvious way of stopping it.

oFinally, never ever write in capitol letters only; Commonly referred to as shouting, it makes you look as though you don’t know how to type properly and makes your text particularly hard to read.

For particularly bad examples of web design try going to the page www.webpagesthatsuck.com.By taking note of other peoples mistakes you can learn how to avoid them.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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