In both page and site organization, simplicity and clarity should serve as guides. Only when complexity and/or obscurity serve an aesthetic or didactic purpose should you ignore this maxim, for first and foremost people visit sites to gain information. If that information is not presented promptly and clearly, visitors go elsewhere, and do not return.

As always, the motto is "Keep It Simple, Stupid!", or K.I.S.S. Be sure to organize your pages logically; use a header to indicate the beginning of a section, use logical formatting and do not clutter your pages. You do not merely "add" new material to an old page; when you add new material you might have to rethink the original page. Should it stay one page, perhaps reorganized, or are two pages now warranted?

As an example, I offer a page I did for a friend a few years ago. She wished to surprise her boyfriend with an online Valentine's Day greeting. Rather than send an electronic "postcard", she asked me to create the page. I kept it simple. The message was clear, the background was kept subtle and mild, and a few small childhood pictures were added to provide a personal touch. My rule against using a graphic to represent text was broken because by using a graphic I could get the right type-face and control the layout. The page was tailored to its intended audiance. I knew who would be viewing the site and on what sort of computer. Hence, I did away with alternative text in my image tags, for I had no need to make this page viewable to the world. The total size of the page (HTML + graphics) is about 54K; each individual graphic, however, is small.

I have also done several basic homepages for faculty members. Their main interest is usually getting a current version of their c.v. online. This means presenting information about their education, positions and publications. Usually one page will suffice; occasionally two or more are necessary. The following two sites for faculty members demonstrate how long pages can be kept simple, clear and yet professional-looking. Each uses a table to provide formatting; this will be dealt with more in a coming page. The backgrounds are either light colors or light-colored graphics; this is important so the text of the page shows up clearly. I changed the normal Times New Roman font to Arial/Helvetica by way of a style sheet (advanced topic). Each page supplies basic information: name, position, contact information, education, service, awards and publications. One does this on a single page, the other breaks this up among three pages. Because the pages are long, in the second example links within the pages are used to help visitors more easily find information. Each page uses simple paragraphs and lists to organize its material. [*Note that each of these pages is taken from an archive and may not represent the current webpages for these professors.*]


Chapter 3



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