Art and the Zen of Web Sites


"Everything you know is wrong."
> Inside Macintosh, 1984

"Web publishing is no more about HTML than book publishing is about type fonts."
> Henri de Toulouse-LaTech

"In building your web site, demonstrate your creativity by showing interesting images, saying interesting things, and making it a nice place to visit."
> Vincent van Gui

"Hyperlinks are the GOTOs of the '90s."
> Henri de Toulouse-LaTech

"Colored or textured backgrounds, weirdly colored text or links, and a preoccupation with appearance over content are sure signs of a "first generation" web site."
> Pablo PigCasso

"I have yet to see a web site that was made easier to understand, easier to navigate, or had a better presentation of its content because of the use of frames. In most cases, it made things worse."
> L' Architecte Karp

"If you only have a sparse amount of data, or if it isn't very meaningful, consider dressing it up with Netscape tables."
> Henri de Toulouse-LaTech

"Although art can be created with a chainsaw, this is hardly a justification for giving every would-be artist a chainsaw."
> Pablo PigCasso, commenting on some of the newer "extensions" to HTML

"Use the defaults, Luke. Use the defaults."
> Obi-Web Kenobi

"Try holding your breath for as long as it takes your home page to load."
> Henri de Toulouse-LaTech

"In a successful advertisement it's the graphics that grab you, but it's the text that does the selling."
> Pablo PigCasso

"Before you put a really dark background on your web page, ask yourself this: Why is it so much harder to drive at night than in the daytime?"
> Vincent van Gui

"Where were you when the page was blank?"
> Truman Capote


What is web publishing?

Putting together a web site is a unique blend of publishing, user interface design, and technology.

The three main activities of visiting a web site are reading text, viewing images, and interacting with its interface.

Web publishing is >not< an opportunity to show off your technical prowess. Use the technical aspect to support and enhance, but don't let it overpower the other aspects of your work.

Web publishing is >not< an opportunity to show off your graphic arts skills. Use the graphical aspect to support and enhance, but don't let it overpower the other aspects of your work.

A web page is >not< the same as a magazine page, or a newspaper page, or a TV show, or any other existing form of communication. Compared to them, the web is very limited in what you can show. It would take hours to transmit the equivalent of one high-quality, full color magazine page across the web. And it will be a long time before the web can handle the kind of sound and motion you see on TV.

Web publishing depends on an understanding of Internet science, the same way that cooking requires an understanding of food science. But when gourmets meet, they discuss the great chefs, not the great food scientists.


What are the goals of your site?

Is the goal to entertain, to provide information or graphics, or to provide some unique service such as an index or database? Or, perhaps, it's something completely new.

If it's for a business, are you trying to attract new customers, give information about products and services, do market research, provide customer support?

How does the design and implementation of your web site support your goals?


For commercial sites

If your site is a commercial site, most of the people who visit it will be there to get some sort of information. They won't be there for "a total web experience," or to be entertained, or for the thrill of visiting a "killer web site." They'll want to know things like:

"What models are available and what do they cost?"

"What are the features of your products and services?"

"How can I contact your company?"

"Do you have any new products or services?"

"How can I get the widget I bought from your company to work properly?"

"I want to see financial reports and other info."

"Do you have any employment opportunities?"

A commercial web site will become an important adjunct to your company and, in some cases, it will be the main way in which your customers and others interact with you in the future.

When the web was young, many companies wanted to "establish a web presence" so they turned to graphic arts shops, advertising agencies, and the new crop of web design firms that were hanging out their shingles. Although these firms had a good background in graphic arts, they had little experience in the many aspects of creating web sites. They over-emphasized the graphics aspect and tried to entertain in the same way as print ads or TV commercials.

However, an effective web site needs a lot more than this. It should start with a requirements definition that evaluates the real needs of the company and how they can best be served through the web. This should be followed by a careful design and planning stage. The next phase is to build the site.

But, unlike a print ad or a TV commercial, a web site needs constant updating and maintenance to evolve and stay current. A lot of sites were designed in a way that made this difficult. You also have to consider the operations aspects of the site, such as guaranteeing response time and availability.

Few recognized the need for web site statistics, so they didn't include them in the original plan, or design them into the site so they would give effective information.

If your company is going to go to the trouble, effort, and expense of building a corporate web site, you should consider engaging the services of a systems architect before you contact the graphics companies or hire those Java programmers. An architect will plan your site as a system designed to meet your corporate goals, rather than just a bunch of interconnected HTML pages. 


Make your site easy to navigate.

Give a lot of thought to the roadmap of your site and how its different elements are linked. How is this navigational information conveyed to the user?

Could someone, after visiting your site, draw a simple diagram showing how the different elements are connected and how you get from one place to another?

If someone comes to your site looking for a specific piece of information, how easy is it to locate it?

How does a visitor figure out all of the things they can see or do at your site?

How does a visitor figure out how to navigate your particular site?

How can the visitor tell if they have seen everything?

How can a visitor tell what they have and have not seen?

Make it easy for a visitor to determine what is new and when things were changed.

A site that is difficult to navigate will also be difficult to maintain.

Complexity will limit the size of your site.

Complexity will make it difficult to test your site.


Some ways to generate repeat visits to your site:

Make it large enough to require more than one visit to view the entire site. But make it easy to remember what the visitor has already seen.

Change your site often. But make it easy for the visitor to figure out what was changed, and when.

Make your site a source of reference material - a list, index, database. Perhaps allowing the user to search it for a particular topic or item.

Make your site the authoritative source on a particular subject.


In the world of the web, every visitor is different

Remember that there are great variations in the the computer platform, display setup, processor and disk speed, connection speed, and the particular browser software being used by each individual visitor to your web site. And the visitors themselves will be different, in every conceivable way.

Don't assume that every visitor to your site has the latest hardware and software, a super-speed connection to the Internet, and the eyesight and reflexes of a fifteen year old.

There will be a great variation in how your site looks to different users if you rely on fancy HTML tricks and commands.

There will be a great variation in how your site looks to different users even if you don't use fancy HTML tricks and commands.

You have to decide whether the goal of your site is to impress the "in crowd" with your technical razzle-dazzle, or to make it a site for the enjoyment of everyone. (Note: the "in crowd" is usually very small.)

Don't create a site that only a small percentage of your visitors can view properly.

As a result of heavy Internet traffic, web pages bloated with gratuitous graphics, older hardware or software, a fair number of folks are surfing the web with the graphics turned off in their browsers. What does your site look like without its graphics?

You are going to lose a lot of points if you mention Netscape (or Microsoft), in any way, on the first page that your visitors see. (Unless of course, you're a Netscape employee.) This includes describing your site as "Netscape-enhanced," telling your visitors that your site is only presentable if they have the latest version of Netscape, or pointing to a site where they can download the latest version of Netscape. Think of the message that it sends about you and your site.

Remember that the major online services have over 10 million paying customers. Very soon, most of them will have web browsers, but they won't be the very, very latest version of Netscape. Your pages may look very strange to them.

How does your site look with Lynx? Try it to see how your site looks with a text-only viewer. This is the only viewer that the typical Unix user will have. If your site is mainly informational, don't deny access to these potential visitors.

And you had better prepare yourself for the invasion of the surfers who will reach your site through add-ons to their TV set, cable box, or plug-in for their game playing machine. These new widgets will have limited capabilities, very much like the earlier versions of the more popular browsers.

For commercial sites, there are some special considerations. For instance, you may find that a high percentage of your potential customers are using the Prodigy or the AOL web browser. They are also the ones most likely to print out your pages for later reference.

The people with money to spend do not have time to fool with getting a SLIP or PPP connection running, and they don't have time to get and tune the latest version of Netscape.

They will most likely be using browsers that are integrated into a full-featured online service that provides a single package with news, stock portfolio tracking, and a seamless interface to the Internet and the web.

The real point is that if you have a commercial web site, you can keep Netscape around for testing, but make sure it also works with whatever browser is provided by Prodigy, AOL, and Compuserve.


The user interface

Consider the signal-to-noise ratio of your interface. How much is useful and interesting, and how much is just noise? Avoid using large or gratuitous graphics that don't add to the content of the page.

Remember that browsers have a lot of user-configurable features -- colors, fonts, etc. These can really mess up your fancy interface.

Don't make the user guess where to click.

Don't replace bullets and horizontal rules with images. It eats bandwidth and confuses the user. If you use images as bullets, your visitors may try clicking on them and wonder why nothing happens.

Be very careful in using graphic elements as controls (buttons, links, etc). The user has to guess what to do.

Try not to have two or more places to click that perform the same action.

For some reason, most browsers default to a background color of gray. The easiest way to fix this is to override the browser's default. Use a white background. Set the background color to white using BODY BGCOLOR="#ffffff".

Don't forget that link tags show up in different colors than regular text, and may change color after a link is viewed. Consider how these tags will show up against a colored background. (And remember that these colors will be different on different browsers and can also be changed by the user.)

You can use a shade of gray as a background if you are not displaying text against it. Use as light a shade as possible.

Keep the interface uniform. Have the same controls perform the same action everywhere.

Don't use colored, textured, or graphic backgrounds unless absolutely necessary. They may look fine in your browser, but could end up looking quite different in someone else's browser, or on a computer with different video hardware, color depth, etc. They're distracting, and they really do make text hard to read.

Another problem with backgrounds is that they are handled differently by different browsers. On some, your page is first displayed, and then the background suddenly shows up, like a layer of smog descending on the page. With other browsers, you sit and watch a blank page until the background has been downloaded.

Displaying images against anything but a plain background may cause them to be rendered incorrectly by the browser. And it may make it difficult for a visitor to view them.

Use the "CENTER" command for displaying graphics.

Don't blink anything unless it's to indicate an emergency such as a life hazard. It annoys the hell out of some people.

Don't use tricky (or undocumented) HTML to do dissolves or fades or other special effects. They look different on every machine. And after a while, they can get downright annoying. And they may stop working (or work strangely) on different browsers or on new releases of your current browser.

Don't have something that, when clicked on, takes the visitor back to the page they're already on. Disorienting. This is common on sites where every page has links to every page.

One way to get a precise block of type, such as a name and address, to appear correctly in every browser is to render the type in an art program, then save it as an image (GIF) file. If done properly, a name-and-address block, including email and web addresses, should be about 2K bytes. This can actually be more efficient than using text if the name and address appears on several pages. (But don't forget to include a text alternate.)

Don't change any of the type colors -- either for displayed text or for links. It only disorients the user.

You can set large (headline) type, normally black, to a shade of gray. But not too light.


Use color wisely

Use color to convey information or to draw attention to where it's really needed.

The standard web interface uses this principle by displaying the hypertext links to other pages in colors that stand out from the rest of the text. In addition, different colors are used to show which links have been visited and which haven't.

So strong are these clues, that you can look at a web page and tell a lot about it without reading the text.

It's also a good reason for leaving the text and links in their default colors. Your visitors will have seen hundreds of pages with the text and links in their default colors and will take advantage of this conditioning by being able to navigate a new site without having to constantly relearn the interface.

It's obvious that if you change the color of the links on your site, or use an imagemap, much of the possible information will be lost to the visitor and your site will be more difficult to navigate.

Here's another example. If you have a form on one of your pages, there will probably be certain items which are mandatory, and some which are optional. Try putting a red marker next to each item that the user must set. This will be a great help in filling out the form since you can instantly tell if it's been completed to the point where it won't produce an error message.



Avoid putting imagemaps on your pages unless you have a really good reason for using them. Fancy imagemaps can be far more confusing than a well-formatted text list or a simple set of buttons. In many cases, it's hard to tell just where to click. This is especially true it the map contains both images and words.

They take up a lot of bandwidth and, in most cases, add nothing to your page.

If you use a large imagemap, your visitors may have to wait for well over a minute before they can begin to navigate your site.

Unlike regular text links, which change color after being clicked on, imagemaps give no clue about what's been seen and what hasn't. This makes it more difficult for the user to navigate your site.

Imagemaps limit you to a very simple site. It's difficult to include more than a few items in the map, especially if you are including both icons and text in the map.

The time and effort it takes to modify both the image and the map make the use of imagemaps a real maintenance headache. It will take far longer to update or change your site if it means modifying the imagemaps as well. This is especially true if you have used imagemaps on many of your pages.

If you use an imagemap, make sure that you include a text list with identical items for those who are confused by your map or are using a browser where images are not being loaded. Locate this alternative list as close to the imagemap as possible to avoid confusion. Make sure that the list contains all the items on the map, and that they are in the same order.

If your imagemap is a figure that depicts something real, like a map of the United States, don't assume that your visitors will be able to identify things (Which one is Nevada?) solely by their shape or location.

Also, make sure that your imagemap gives some sort of a warning if the visitor clicks in an area that doesn't relate to anything or isn't defined in the map's table. (What happens if the visitor clicks in the ocean, next to California?)


Your page's title

Don't forget to put a title on every one of your web pages. The title is what shows up at the top of the browser's window when a page is displayed. If your page doesn't have a title, the browser will display "Untitled," or "No Title, " or simply the URL of the page.

The title is important. If someone bookmarks your page, the title is what shows up in their list of bookmarks. Or, if someone puts a link to your site on their page, they'll probably use your page title as the link text. Or, if the page is indexed by a search engine, the title is what shows up in the search results. You get the picture.

Even if you do have titles on your pages you still might want to reevaluate the actual wording. Make sure that the title actually says something. Instead of "My Web Page," how about "John Jones -- My Web page?" Imagine viewing the two of them in a bookmark list.

If you have a business site, you may want to go even further. For instance, you may want to put the name of your business (or an abbreviation) in the title of every page on your site. You never know which of your pages will be bookmarked, and it will be far easier to pick you out in a list of bookmarks, or any other list that uses the page's title.

And don't forget to tell people who you are and what you do. On the main page of your site. Don't make them guess. For example: "TLC Systems is a management consulting firm, specializing in the architecture, design, and implementation of systems involving computers and people."


A Tip

Keep your home/main page small so that it loads quickly -- under 15 seconds is a goal worth aiming for. (Especially important when the web slows down.) This will hook the visitor. Think twice about putting that 90K GIF on your home page. Remember that yours is only one of millions of sites -- websurfers have short attention spans.


Standalone Images

The most common use of standalone images is on a page with a lot of little images where clicking on one of them loads a larger version. If you just link to the image file, it ends up in the upper left corner of the page, all by itself.

Use an HTML page to hold the image. This will let you center the picture and put in a title and other information.



Don't use interlaced GIFs. These give the effect of the image being continuously redrawn at a higher and higher resolution. The effect is annoying and it's hard to tell when the picture is actually ready to be viewed. It's especially annoying when used to render fine artwork. It's also annoying when the the web is slow and the image sits half-rendered for a period of time. You may also find that the intermediate image resembles something very different from the actual image. It's just another special effect that will soon be boring.

(Note: I've heard many reasons for using interlaced GIFs, but not a single one was because it looked better. Another victory of technology over aesthetics.)

Don't use an image compression technique that isn't supported by all browsers. At the present time, GIF may not be the best method, but it is the right one. (Choosy web site builders choose GIF.)

Also, a JPEG image may compress to a smaller file than a GIF, taking less time to download, but it will probably take longer to decompress and display, thus making your effort for naught. This is especially true on older, slower machines.

JPEG compression also imposes a loss of image quality, which may (depending on the settings in your image-conversion program, and your visitor's hardware) be quite noticeable.

And in some cases, especially with drawings or line art work, the GIF can actually end up smaller than the JPEG.

The best answer is to try both compression techniques and see which gives the smallest file size, the best image quality, and the best performance in downloading and viewing. (For some images, the GIF may actually be smaller than the JPEG.)


Animated Images

Please, please, please don't put animated images on your page. They're the closest thing the web has to computer viruses.

They make the page load slower -- they use much bigger files, and the animation itself slows down the loading of the rest of the page, especially on slower machines.

They cause the page to load improperly -- the little red light on the browser doesn't go out, so there's no way to tell if the page has finished loading. If the visitor clicks the 'Stop' button, it may turn out that the page hasn't fully loaded, so it has to be loaded again. They can also keep you from being able to scroll the page while it's loading.

They're distracting, making it harder for the visitor to concentrate on the other things on your page.

If you switch to another application, the browser sits in the background, chewing up processor cycles doing animation.

The images run at different speeds, depending on the visitor's hardware -- crawling on slower machines, and flickering between images on fast machines.

When you move the cursor over a link (without clicking), the browser's status line is supposed to show where the link will take you. If an animated image is running, this information will be lost. In fact all status information (except what the animated image is doing) will be lost.

And lastly, a number of folks have reported browser crashes on leaving a page that had an animated image. When the browser crashes, it can mess up things like the browser's history list, tables of cached items, and your bookmarks file.

Suggestion for the browser manufacturers: How about adding an option to turn these things off?



If you're presenting text documents on your pages, give some thought to making them easy to read.

The viewing area of your browser is much smaller than a normal printed page, so you may have to reformat your documents to fit this new environment, rather than just dropping an existing document into your HTML editor.

Don't run text the full width of the screen. This creates long lines of text that are difficult to read. Text also needs air around it, to breathe. That's why most printed documents have margins.

You can easily solve these problems by using the 'Blockquote' tag, which gives a margin on both sides of the page. You can nest Blockquotes to vary the width as necessary.

You can use use dictionary lists ('DL') as a simple way of formatting text that requires indentation.

Don't use long paragraphs of text. It's hard to read these in printed form and, for some reason, even harder on to read on a computer screen. Try to keep paragraphs to four sentences or less.

And try not to put links in your text, especially in the middle of a sentence or paragraph. If you have links that relate to your text, put them at the end, like footnotes. Give your visitors a chance to read your text before sending them somewhere else.


Java Applets

A lot of people are learning how to program in Java and JavaScript. Most of their early efforts seem to be some form of nonstop, repetitive animation that is both annoying and distracting. Some applets keep the page from loading or scrolling properly.

One popular applet overwrites the browser's status display at the bottom of the window, keeping you from viewing the destinations of the links as you move the cursor over them. It also keeps you from seeing the status of the current page as it is loading.

If you are developing Java applets, you may wish to wait until you have something more worthwhile before inflicting your early efforts on unsuspecting visitors.

Some other considerations. Only a fraction of your visitors will have Java-capable browsers. You can test for which browser they're using (and maintain several versions of your site), but some will be be using Java-capable browsers with Java turned off due to security concerns.



Don't use frames just to show that you know how to use frames.

Your web page is small to begin with, and carving it up with frames can reduce the usable area to a tiny fraction of the screen. Many visitors will have browsers that can't see frames, so you'll have to maintain two versions of your site.

Don't build your site around frames. It makes it difficult to navigate and limits you to having a very simple site. The cursor keys don't work unless you click in the frame you want to scroll, and the browser's 'Back' button may produce unexpected results.

And there's also a good chance that a visitor's attempt to print out your page will end in failure.

And an interesting surprise awaits the visitor who tries to bookmark one of the pages within your site. (They'll just get the URL of your main page.)

And you may get unexpected results when a search engine indexes your site. Visitors who come to one of your pages from a search engine won't be entering through the site's front door and won't see the frame that would normally be holding the page.

And if your "framed" site has links to other sites, they'll show up within your frame, masking the identity of the other site and confusing visitors, who'll wonder where they really are. And you won't be able to bookmark the linked-to site.

And if there's a problem with one of your pages, it'll be difficult to report since only the URL of the main page is displayed.

One possible use for frames is if you have a report where you want to lock the row or column titles so they don't scroll off the screen.


"Friends don't let friends use frames."
> Vincent van Gui


Hard Copy

What do the pages on your site look like when they are printed out? Try it. You may be in for a surprise.

You might want hard copy because it makes it easier to design and edit your pages. Just like an advertising layout.

It gives co-workers and customers a way to view and comment on your pages.

You can build a portfolio of your work to use in sales presentations or for advertising.

Your visitors can print out a hard copy of the information on your site for later reference.

If you have a lot of browser-specific code, such as textured or graphic backgrounds, these may not print out.

If your page has a black or colored background, it may not print properly.

If your page uses frames, it probably won't print correctly.

But the biggest surprise awaits those whose ultra-chic pages have black or dark backgrounds with white or light-colored text.



Test your pages with several different browsers. You will be amazed at the variations in interpreting even the simplest HTML tags.

Make sure you try your pages with the browsers provided by major online services such as Prodigy and AOL.

Test all your pages after making even trivial changes to your site, just to make sure you haven't broken something. (Programmers know that you're far more likely to introduce an error when making changes than when the original work was done.)

Make sure that you test your pages in a way that forces the browser to get everything -- both text and images. This means turning off the caching, emptying the cache from within the browser, or deleting all the files in the browser's cache directory. This will force the browser to get everything from scratch, and you'll see how long your pages really take to load. You'll also see how long the browser hangs there with a blank screen before something shows up.

Now go to your browser's options dialog and make it so that the page always has a white background and the links are their default colors (blue and red). A lot of people will have their browsers set this way to avoid viewing weird backgrounds or strangely-colored links. How does your page look with these settings?

And don't forget to test your site with one of those new widgets that turns your TV into an Internet surfboard. Most of these still have just the capabilities of the very early browsers.

Turn on the "don't load images" menu item, or checkbox in your browsers option settings. How does your page look without its images? Is it still possible to find your way around?

If your page is blessed with a Java or JavaScript widget, what happens when you look at it with a browser that doesn't support Java. What about a Java-enabled browser with Java turned off ?

If your page needs a special plug-in, or a special helper application, or uses a special file type, test to see what happens if one or more is missing or not supported. It might be enough to make Netscape toss its cookies.

Have other people test your web site.

Pay attention when someone tells you they had trouble viewing your site. For every person who takes the time and trouble to write to you, there are many more who will give up in frustration.


About HTML

The easiest way to learn HTML is by studying the source from other people's pages. Most browsers will get the HTML source for the page you're looking at. It's also a good way to learn what makes bad pages bad.

Be careful about using new or specialized HTML features. They may not be upward compatible with the newer browsers or new versions of HTML.

Use the absolutely smallest set of HTML that will do the job. Make this something you can brag about, rather than how you mastered the fancy commands.

Don't use undocumented HTML effects to do things such as dissolves or fades. This may stop working in the next release of the particular browser you're designing it for, and my cause some other browsers to function incorrectly.

Never forget that HTML is not a page description language or page formatting language. It is for displaying information and graphics, and for interacting with the user.

Use as many defaults as possible, Override them only when necessary, such as to set the background color to white, or to center an image.

But the best way to use HTML is not to use it. The newest WYSIWYG web page editors let you put together web pages without using HTML. Most of them also have a way of viewing the underlying HTML code so experienced users can still have control over the fine points.



Advertising has come to the web. Now, someone will pay you to put their advertisement on your web page.

What an opportunity. Not only can you make gobs of money, but your page will look "successful." (Otherwise, why would someone bother to advertise on it?)

But while other advertising media are aimed at influencing your next purchase, web ads have a completely different goal -- to get a visitor to leave your web page and go to the advertiser's site. (You only get paid if someone leaves your page and goes to the advertiser's page.) You can be sure that the designers of the ads will try their very best to get folks to leave your page.

But that's not all. You may not have any say about what the advertisement says or about the subject matter. Or even worse, what the ad does. Imagine, someone else's animated image on your page. Hmm... wonder why your page doesn't load correctly any more.

A large ad at the top of your page may create a certain amount of confusion as to the actual ownership of the site.

If you have a commercial site, you're going to look pretty silly with an ad for another company on your pages, especially when the goal of that ad is to get visitors to leave your site. Some might wonder why your company can't afford to pay for its own web site.

And don't forget the free ads that many sites carry. Sort of like paying extra for clothing that displays the designer's name in large letters. Most of these free ads are for the latest browsers or plug-in components that you absolutely must have to view the site properly. Others have created "awards" that you can use to decorate your page. Remember that they're also links to the site of the folks who give out the awards.

Is anyone getting rich from letting others put an ad on their page? Only a few of the mega-busy sites. For the rest of us, it's just another Internet get-rich-quick scheme.


"Whose web site is this, anyway?"
> Henri de Toulouse-LaTech, On viewing a page with three animated web ads, two "download me now" browser buttons, and six meaningless web awards.



It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. The world changes, the web changes, and one day your site will have to be upgraded.

Is your site easy to modify? Is it easy to make additions and changes? Some of the things that make a site difficult to change are sloppy formatting of HTML code, imagemaps, and a site where every page links to every other page.

Can your site be maintained or modified by someone besides you? In the world of commercial web sites, it's more than likely your site will eventually be inherited by someone else. Have you left them a clear path to follow?

If you use browser-dependent features on your site, you will have to have two or more versions of your pages -- a maintenance headache.

Format your HTML documents so that they are easy to read. Use blank lines and spaces to separate elements.

Create a set of uniform formats and styles for your pages so that you can create a new page by copying and modifying an existing page.

If you have links to other sites ("My Mondo Cool Link List"), you owe it to your visitors to keep these links up-to-date and accurate. You should check them on a regular basis to change or modify links to sites that have moved, and to remove links that now lead to dead ends. Fortunately, there are a number of shareware tools that can aid in this process.

Consider building high level tools to support and maintain your web site. One example would be a "gallery editor" with a graphical interface that lets you lay out galleries or catalogs by dragging images around, then automatically generates the HTML.

Consider using automated maintenance to build and maintain your HTML pages.



Don't be a web critic.

Withhold your criticism until someone actually asks for it.

Be positive. Make suggestions, give advice, offer help. Point out problems such as missing images and bad links.

Be private. Send your comments by email rather than posting them in public.

Put your ego where others can't see it.

And don't forget to send praise to the sites you really like. It gives people the energy to keep going.


A final quote:

"I'm more interested in new ideas than I am in new technology."
> Henri de Toulouse-LaTech


A final Zen thought:

Before putting something on a web page, think about its real-world equivalent and use that as a guide. If there is no real-world equivalent, it's a bad sign.


A final word:

Don't be a Netscape bigot. Who knows what tomorrow will bring.


A final hint:

Don't give people special instructions on how to view your site, like:

Change these browser settings

Open the browser window --- this wide ---

Stop right now and download this other browser

Best viewed with ...

Only viewable with ...

Download this plug-in

Set up this helper application

Turn off the underlining

Download this special font

You don't have Java? Go away!

If you lived here, you'd be home now.


And a final note from the author:

What will "fourth-generation" web sites look like? If you want to know, read "Art and the Zen of Web Sites."


"When the bandwidth of the web increases by a factor of 10, web page sizes will increase by a factor of 15."
> Henri de Toulouse-LaTech 

"If Netscape could find a way to make web pages twirl in the browser, the next day the web would be full of twirling pages. No one would ask why. The fact that it came from Netscape would be reason enough."
>Pablo PigCasso

"What's the difference between the Boy Scouts and the web? The Boy Scouts have adult supervision."
> Vincent Van Gui


Visit our web sites

 Techno-Impressionist gallery:
 TLC Systems (More web stuff):
 Web-Scope (tm) statistics:
Tony Karp, TLC Systems Corp 
 -  Send me email
Last modified Mar 4, 1997

To CSE 271 homepage
To my homepage