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Creating Web Pages

Creating Web Pages is designed to help University students, faculty and staff create and develop Web pages. We remind everyone that the Web is dynamic. Since it is constantly changing, so is the software and to some extent the hardware necessary to view the Web. Web browsers have become more sophisticated and there are now HTML editors and Advanced HTML Editors that operate in a "what-you-see-is-what-you-get" or WYSIWYG environment. The best way to learn about the Web and the tools needed to create a Web page is to use them.

Accommodations to provide the university with services like file sharing and storage, collaborative tools and creation of personal Web pages, the university now provides UMdrive, a flexible and more intuitive Web file storage (WFS) application created by Xythos.

The Basics of Web Page Development

Before You Start Development

Become familiar with the Web
Learn more about the browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. Develop a basic knowledge of HTML. You might want to download an HTML editor and experiment.

Training

Learn what you need to know
There are several venues to help you learn the technology necessary to develop a Web page. The Center for Teaching and Learning offers courses in HTML and Web page development. There are numerous guides online that approach HTML tagging from the beginner's perspective; see Web Resources. Also, local bookstores carry many books that can "walk you through" Web page development while you learn HTML and experiment with different features.

Planning Your Web Page

Answer the following questions
Who is your intended audience? Are you trying to reach current students, staff, and faculty; future students; alumni; and / or outside researchers and scholars? Will you want input from persons who view this page?
Define the purpose of your Web page
Now that you have defined your audience, what type of information do you wish to make available to them? Pay particular attention to the level of detail that you want to present on your Web page.
Make use of the linking capability of hypertext
Well-placed hyperlinks can be used to make the text of a document flow more smoothly. Linking can take the user to many different web sites to gather information. One word of caution - make sure that your links work. Check each one before your page makes the transition from development to "go-live".
Define the content of your Web page
Writing for the Web by Jakob Nielsen contains "research on how users read on the Web and how authors should write their Web pages".
Another item to remember, decide the type of text, graphics, audio, forms, etc. that will best suit your specific Web page.

Designing Your Web Page

Good design principles are always in season
One thing to keep in mind when designing a Web page is that not everyone who accesses your page will have a Pentium processor with 32 meg of RAM and a 19-inch color monitor. Especially today, people access the Web through different mediums: via modem, some use DSL, some cable and with the advent of wireless, some without cables. Note, the longer a page takes to load, the less likely your clients are going to sit and wait for it to appear. Also, the more difficult the page is to read, the more people tend to look somewhere else.
Graphics tips
The use of graphics is important. Make sure that a graphic adds to the usefulness of your Web page. Also, try to limit the size of your graphic - most sources recommend between 35K and 50K. Large graphics can delay a Web page in loading. Make sure the graphic you want to use is not copyrighted or that you have proper permission to use a copyrighted graphic. Organize your information so that users can move around easily and find the information they need quickly.
Things to avoid doing
Including too many images or images that are too large; creating section headings with no meaning: for example, using "Sec. 1" rather than "Developing Multimedia". Avoid the "click here" syndrome - make a hypertext link on a word or phrase rather than instructing the viewer to "click here"; and creating very long documents that readers must wade through, commonly referred to as scrolling.

Good Web Development and Design Sites

Sites to check out for development and design tips:

Maintenance

One of the most important things
Now that you have tagged your text with HTML, downloaded graphics, designed your page, and copied the files to your UMdrive account so that it can be seen by all, remember the most important thing - maintain your Web site. Information changes and your Web site should remain current. Check links to make sure they work. One of the most frustrating experiences someone can have is to access a Web site with outdated information and links that don't work.
More Help:
Patterns for Personal Web Sites
information about Web site patterns; for most Web sites, not only for personal Web pages.