- personal pages - miscellaneous/links
Advice for making good web pages
...Stylistic advice, that is. This could also be titled "Eric's Web Page
Pet Peeves." Also, at the bottom of the page is a collection
of useful links.
There's already a lot of good advice out there on how to make
good web pages (see some links below, for example). Unfortunately
a lot of people are ignoring this sort of advice. Here's my
thoughts on creating web pages, which you're free to ignore. New
peeve added January 12, 2001.
- Content first. The most important thing for
a web page is content, some sort of information, something (hopefully)
new. Links to other web pages aren't really content (unless your
collection of links is truly unique for some reason). Fancy graphics
are not content, unless you made them yourself, in which
case they are definitely your content and worth putting on the web.
Another way to state this is that when you start creating a home
page, worry first about content, and last about font formats,
cute graphics, and snazzy backgrounds. Content is far more
valuable and interesting! Later you can go back and improve
the visual appearance. (Which explains why some of my web pages
are rather plain...)
- No animated GIFs. And definitely no blinking
text, either. The only animated GIFs I've seen that
I liked were small little movies,
where it is optional for you to look at them
on this page). Almost all animated GIFs are content-less, and are
distracting and annoying.
By the way, when I say "no animated GIFs," I especially mean
those animated icons for email, and the animated icons for "under
construction." In fact, I'd recommend losing any icon that says
under construction -- what does it really add to a web page?
- Don't move your web pages. If you can at all help
it, that is. I really dislike it when someone decides to reorganize their
web site, and I have to go through my web pages to change the links to
their pages. This also messes up search engines which store your page
in their database; search engines are how most people find your pages,
very few people come in through your home/entrance page. Please, once
you make a page, leave it where it is, unless you absolutely have to
get rid of it for some reason. If you move your page, nobody can find it.
- Don't steal. This should go without saying, but
don't take images (or anything else) from other web pages, unless they
give you permission. If you have to steal something, provide credit
for what you're stealing. If you have permission to use something, you
should still provide credit. I realize that this sort of theft usually
will go unpunished, but it's extremely rude. See some excellent
advice about images here.
- Frames are evil. Frames may seem clever,
but I find them unhelpful when I'm surfing;
also some browsers don't
handle them properly (in fact, your pages aren't viewable
at all with some browsers). In general, using frames for navigation can be
replaced by putting a button-bar of some sort along the top or side of
your pages (like the buttons at the top of this page). I just find
it annoying to have to keep clicking in various little windows in
order to navigate properly; it's also a pain to link to some internal
portion of a web site that uses frames. If you still must use
frames, allow people to choose a non-frames version of your page.
- Don't mess up the link colors. When you
follow a link, then return to a page, the link should be a new
color, indicating you visited that link already. It's very
frustrating to have a page full of links, and I investigate
a few of them, and then I have to remember which ones I've already
looked at. Make sure to set "LINK" and "VLINK" differently when
you are specifying link colors -- this sets the color for links you
haven't visited, and the links you have. Most often, it is the
professionally designed pages that do this. Argh!
- Be very careful with font sizes. Another
problem with some professional looking web pages is
eensey teensy little tiny fonts. Hey, maybe on your 640x480
pixel screen the writing looks huge.
For those people out there using 1600x1200
pixels, your small fonts are unreadable. What really annoys me is
that everybody can set their own default font size with their browser,
yet some pages decide to override this. My advice: most of the text
on your website should be the default size, such as the
text on this web page. Then, people viewing their web page will
always get to view it at whatever size is comfortable for them.
I think the problem is people using a <font size="2"> command; I'm not
convinced that the "font" command is a useful one.
For example, I'm using Netscape, and
I can't read the writing on some pages
unless I change the default font size for my browser to be huge,
but then other web pages load with the typesize far too large.
page has changed and I can't find it so you'll just have to
consult the picture at left) The
image at left is a screen-shot to show you how tiny it looks in my
browser. The image at right is a screen-shot taken
from the page you're reading, at the font size which is the default for
my browser. If the text of this sentence is larger or smaller
than the image at right, be glad -- it means that you're reading this
web page at whatever font size you selected.
- Consider avoiding long filenames. If you're reading
a magazine and see two web pages listed, which would you rather look at:
Often the second one can be abbreviated as http://www.foo.edu/~bob/research/bh/
because "index.html" will come up as the default page for that directory,
thus making it even shorter without sacrificing any of the organization
that you originally had.
I realize it's useful to you to use long file names, but it's nasty
for anybody who ever needs to type it in. Maybe this isn't as useful
to you if you don't think your web page is going to get mentioned in a
magazine, and that's a legitimate point. Then again, if I am going to
link to your page, I may have to type it in to the HTML code. At
the very minimum, I recommend avoiding punctuation like _ and - and . and also
Other useful places:
Creative: advice for finding freely distributed images for your
Eric R. Weeks
Department of Physics
Atlanta, GA 30322-2430