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Art & Zen of HTML - rest of the msg

Dec 01, 1996 05:47 AM
by M K Ramadoss

For some reason some of us did not get the full text. So I am posting
the rest of the message. Sorry for the mess up. I should have checked.


Continued from the previous post:

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
     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
have more
     control over the fine points.


     Advertising has come to the web. Now, someone will pay you to put
     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

     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

     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
          web ads, two "download me now" browser buttons, and six
          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

     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

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,

          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? (The first three
generations have
     already been spoken for.) If you want to know, read "Art and the
Zen of Web Sites."

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

Tony Karp, TLC Systems Corp
 -  Send me email

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Last modified November 29, 1996

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