Fr. Frog's Web Design Philosophy
I've been asked by numerous people why I don't
have a flashy site with all the cool whistles, bells, and roll-over graphics and
FlashTM movies. Well the answer is simple. Those things don't do anything
to get information across to the reader and I feel there are more important
things than looking cool. Plus, I simply don't have the time to be fancy,
for fancy's sake.
My web philosophy is as follows.
- Make the content worth while. Donít create
an Internet site just because everyone has one.
- Use a consistent format for your pages. Create
a dummy page with the general look and feel of your site and then use it as
the basis for all your pages. New(er) page generating programs can use
"cascading style sheets" which help to keep things uniform if you
don't use a template.
- Make your first page small and fast to load so
folks wonít get bored waiting for the first page.
- Avoid using frames. Just because they're the
"in" thing and lots of sites
use them doesnít make them a good idea. They can slow loading
substantially and they reduce the size of your data area.
- Use only Arial, Times New Roman, Courier New,
fonts in text. hey are the default Windows fonts and
everyone has them. (Symbols, and WingDings fonts use to work but many newer
standards compliant browsers don't display them.) To use fancy fonts for titles, etc., convert them to a
graphic otherwise folks without those fonts on their system will simply see Arial, Times New Roman,
- Try to limit page size (including graphics)
otherwise down loading will be slow on dialup connections. If a page must be large, you
may want to post
a textual warning at the top of your page to let viewers know itís
a slow page. Not everyone is on a broadband connection yet.
- Use graphics only when really needed. Lots of
pictures or graphics donít make up for bad text.
- Avoid over use of color and special effects.
They slow loading and do nothing to inform anyone.
- Avoid "busy" backgrounds. Plain
white with black text is best, especially for informational sites.
- Never use light text on a dark background.
When such pages are printed on a B&W printer the background defaults to white and the text
becomes unreadable with many printers.
- Keep your pages and links up to date and
indicate the date of the last update at the very bottom of the page. Check
your site frequently for broken or out of date links using one of the
"link checking" sites.
- Keep your site logically organized and provide
links on each page to return to your home page or to other pages in a topic
- Provide a means to jump to various sections or
the top of the page on long pages
- Spell check every page and proof read it
before posting. (Ideally have several other people proof read it.)
Nothing is a bigger turn off than a website full of bad grammar and
misspelled words. Encourage readers to report problems.
- Test everything
- Use .GIF files for graphics and pictures
requiring great detail. Use .JPG files for large photos to keep download
times manageable. If you are creating an image try saving it in both formats
and use the smaller sized image.
- Crop all graphics to the smallest usable
dimensions to keep file size manageable. If you are taking photographs
(either on film for later scanning or digital) for web posting get in close
and fill the frame with your subject. This will maximize detail and minimize
cropping. Posting pictures of higher than 96 dpi (dots per inch) resolution
is pretty much a waste as a computer display is a low resolution device and
it will only make the file size larger. Use a maximum of 150 dpi when
scanning a photo if you plan on scaling it.
- When using graphics always give a description
of the image and specify the image size in your html code to speed loading of the image.
- Test everything.
Contacts & E-Mail
- If you have a "contact me" link, be
sure you answer your mail. Otherwise, donít have the link. You check
your postal mail every day so do the same with your email.
- Have a "contact me" page that has
your mail link on it, rather than having a mail link on each page.
Have the individual pages point to the "contact me" page.
This way you only have to change one page if your email address changes.
- Encrypt your email address on your
"contact me" page using one of the
online encoders available. One of the best generates a java script which you
insert in the html code of your page along with a graphic of your address or
other "non-readable" representation. You can generate a
This prevents spammers from
getting your address with a robot. A graphic of your address can be
generated using a paint program like PaintshopPro or from this website.
- If you must post another personís or businessís
email address on your web site either do it as an embedded graphic file (a
picture of the address), encrypt the address, or spell it out like "xxx
(at) yyy (dot) com" to make it more difficult for spammers to get it.
- Test everything
If you want to include information from another
web site on your site, either copied or as a link, you should get permission
from the author. If you use the actual text on your site, include a cite to the
author and the source. While it is not really necessary to use a
"formal" cite format they do look more professional.
If using an excerpt or complete text from a
website, the formal cite format is
author's name, "name of page," name
of website, date of page, url of site and page, date page accessed by you
You should also include "Used with
permission of the author"
If using an excerpt or complete text from E-mail,
the formal format for a cite is
author's name, author's email address,
"subject line," date of email, type of email*,
date of access by you
.* type = personal
email, office communication, forum posting, etc.
For further information on using cites and
references consult the Greg Reference Manual, by William A. Sabin - 9th Edition,
Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, Westerville, OH, 2001, ISBN 0028040465
What is with so many commercial web
sites. They are poorly organized, hard to navigate, and full of dead
links, but they are loaded with glitzy graphics and pictures. They
constantly are changing the layouts to look more "kool" yet the site
is for all intents and purposes non-functional. Doesn't anyone check their
site using an outside computer? One company's site never worked except for
the home page. All the other pages were on the developers PC and never
uploaded to the hosting server. In spite of numerous complaints it took
almost 2 years before they corrected the problem.
Please email comments or questions to Fr. Frog by
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