BJ's Web Strategies Talk

Strategies for Web Page Design


How many people have their own web page?
How many people have programmed a web page?
Unix tools?
Word Processing Tools?
Page Authoring Tools?
How many people have regular access to the web?

TechTalk: Servers vs. Clients vs. Browsers

  • A server is a machine that stores and sends web pages on request.
  • A client is a machine that requests web pages.
  • A browser is a piece of software that displays web pages.

    Getting Started

    1. Make a simple page
    2. Load it in a web browser
    3. Make changes to the page
    4. Reload the page and review your changes
    5. Return to step 3

    Basic HTML Tags

    A Tag is a way of marking up text so that a browser knows how to display it. Some tags, like the paragraph tag or list item tags, do not need to be closed

    Other tags, most other tags, do need to be closed.

    The general way to tell if a tag needs to be closed is by figuring out where you want the markup to end. In other words, you don't need to close the "strong" tag, used for boldface, if you want your entire document to be in boldface type.

    The same thing would be true of the centering tag, "center".

    HyperText Markup Language Tags
    html /html bgcolor: #ffffff paragraph ordered a href /a
    head /head link: #0000ff blockquote /blockquote un-ordered img src
    title /title vlink: #ff0000 strong /strong definition center /center
    body /body header h1 - /h1 em /em table /table align

    Learning from others

    One of the best ways to learn html, once you have a handle on the basics, is to look at how other people make their pages.
    Find a page you like.
    "View" the html source and compare with what you see in the browser.
    Complex pages or HTML: Save-as Source
    Plug your own text into the code.

    NOTE: Saving HTML source and using the tags and techniques for your own pages is a useful and legitimate way to learn the language and make pages. Downloading images may be a violation of copyright.

    Making a "site" as opposed to making a page, is simply a process of building up pages and linking them in a rational fashion. One suggestion here is that you a site map showing the links between each document. This will help you think through the process of figuring out which documents should and do link to which others.

    Technical Tips and Considerations

    Audience Research Serving your Audience

    Control Issues: Programmer vs. Browser

    HTML is a display language for:

    One of the most useful attributes of HTML is that it allows users to control much of the display by setting the browser preferences.

    If you pick html tags and attributes that pass control to the user as much as possible, you will have widely readable pages, accessible to the widest range of client software packages and users.

    A good test of your pages is to view them with as many different browsers as you can, and under as many different kinds of conditions as possible.

    Given that many people on the net are surfing the web from either text-based browsers (like lynx) or behind slow modems, with graphics turned off, it is a good idea to take a look and find out what your site looks like with lynx or with a browser with graphics turned off.

    HTML is not a:

    Things To Avoid (IMHO)


    1. The window is already too small
    2. The back button frequently doesn't work
    3. Bookmarks mark the main page and not the one the viewer wants
    4. If the viewer goes off your page to another one, the new page will load in the frame window - even if it's on another server.


    1. Do not specify fonts or typefaces in your documents.
      • problems with hi-res monitors and display postscript
      • problems with machines that don't have that typeface
    2. Do not enlarge or reduce font sizes in your windows.
      • Use h1/h2/h3 for headlines
      • resist the urge to tell the user that you know better than they what size they should use to view your pages.

    If you must exert this kind of control, buy Adobe Acrobat and make pdf documents. Do it right. Don't screw around trying to force the issue with HTML.

    Finally, keep your HTML to a minimum. Instead of concentrating on how many tricks you can use, see how sparse you can make your code.

    The more "tricks" you use, the more difficult it will be to insure that your site is visible to a wide range of browsers.

    The more you try to control the layout of your page(s), the more difficult it will be to insure that your site is visible to a wide range of browsers.


    The thing I like best about the web is that web pages are never cast in type or fixed on the page. They are open environments where it is always easy to make changes. This gives them an immediacy that is missing in books.

    This quality unfortunately leads people to treat web documents a bit more lightly than they would otherwise.

    Ah ... but that's another soapbox.

    Other Resources

    Parts of this talk were taken from: Zen and the Art of Web Sites ( This site has lots more interesting things to say about web pages, sites and strategies.

    Copyright © 1998, Bruce Jones

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