Web Design: An Overview

(Most things are listed in order of importance)

  1. Resources

    1. Talent

      1. Creative

      2. Technical

        1. Nearly essential skills

          • HTML

          • CSS

          • Textual Communication/Presentation Skills

          • Graphic Design and Formatting Skills

          • JavaScript

          • FTP/Telnet

        2. Not essential, but helpful skills

          • Unix command-prompt navigation/file management/permissions

          • Server-Side Scripting

          • Database

          • Java

          • VBScript

          • DHTML

          • XML

          • Flash

          • Shockwave

          • Audio/Video

    2. Hardware

      1. Computer with 64MB+ of RAM, 256+ color display, modem. Bigger and faster is always better. Scanner and digital camera helpful.

    3. Finances

      1. Little money necessary beyond that needed for acquiring/maintaining the above

    4. Internet resources

      1. Server access

        1. Client’s server for hosting their site

        2. Your own server for advertising/testing/gaining client approval

    5. Recommended Literature

      1. O'Reilly & Associates' Web Design in A Nutshell. Excellent summary of HTML, all essential components of a site. Comprehensive introduction to web design. (Though is becoming out of date; it doesn't have much on HTML 4 or anything on XML. Look to O'Reilly for good books on those technologies, though.)

      2. Websites

        1. Webmonkey. (www.webmonkey.com) Excellent introductory and intermediate tutorials, good starting-point for further resources. Covers all aspects of web design.

        2. ZDNet. (www.zdnet.com) Comprehensive information industry site. News, tutorials, advice, reviews, downloads, free magazines and newsletters.

      3. Pure JavaScript: A Code-Intensive Premium Reference, by Sams. Covers every command in detail, good amount of sample code, very useful.

      4. O'Reilly & Associates' Javascript: The Definitive Guide. Covers subtleties of the language, a more difficult read.

      5. Professional PHP Programming by Wrox. Demonstrates many of the typical ways to use PHP, gives example code.

      6. PHP Manual available at www.php.net. Excellent reference for the basic elements of the language, covers every command in detail, has some example code.

      7. MySQL manual, available at www.mysql.org. Standard reference.

      8. Periodicals

        1. Element K Journals. Excellent advice, of the highest quality. (Paid subscription)

        2. ZD Net

          • EWeek. General information on information industry, focus on internet technology. (Free)

        3. WebTechniques. (www.webtechniques.com) Good advice, especially for programmers. (Free)

    6. Standard Software for your desktop computer

      1. HTML/programming code editor

        1. Windows Notepad

        2. AceHTML (Free or Pro versions)

          • Good quality

          • Not free anymore

        3. Arachnophilia (www.arachnoid.com)

          • A very configurable program (make your own menus & shortcuts!! Easily share your configuration with friends/coworkers.)

          • Somewhat clumsy Java interface

          • Auto-indents HTML and programming code

          • Free!

          • Very good for the beginner

            • Helpful outline of web design to introduce the beginner

            • Integrated FTP engine

        4. HomeSite

      2. WYSIWYG editor

        1. StarOffice/OpenOffice.org (Free, basic to medium functionality, www.openoffice.org)

        2. Netscape Composer (Free, basic to medium functionality)

        3. DreamWeaver (Standard, full-featured)

        4. FrontPage (Standard, full-featured)

        5. MS Word (Basic functionality)

        6. Trellix Web (Free, good for beginners, medium functionality, www.trellix.com)

      3. Graphics

        1. Two dimensional graphic creation/editing with layers, plugins, etc. Some animation and video support.

          • Adobe PhotoShop (Excellent, standard)

          • The Gimp (Open-source, free, excellent, www.gimp.org)

        2. Three-dimensional graphics

          • Bryce by MetaCreations (Great for landscape scenes, ray-tracing, motion sequences, rendering, expensive)

          • TrueSpace (Lattice-structure editing, motion, rendering, cheap)

        3. Web Animation, video editing

          • Ulead Software (Specialty multimedia software products, high-quality)

      4. FTP client

        1. CuteFTP (Basic or Pro versions are excellent)

        2. AceFTP

        3. Arachnophilia

        4. StarOffice (www.stardivision.com)

        5. Internet Explorer

      5. Browsers (essential for testing your site)

        1. The most common (not just most recent) versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape are essential. Older versions especially of Netscape are important to have as well; W3C compatible sites crash in them. AOL's browser is important. Opera and Lynx are of lesser importance.

      6. Sound editing

        1. CoolEdit (Standard, medium- to full-featured)

      7. Backend (This is what the web server has; you want it on your computer to develop and test your site before uploading it to the web server, but only if your site uses special server configurations, server-side programming, or a database. Install the versions which are on your web server to avoid programming headaches later.)

        1. Server

          • Apache (Open-source, free, Unix Standard)

          • Personal Web Server (Comes with Windows)

          • IIE (Comes with Windows)

        2. Server-side scripting

          • PHP (Open-source, free, standard on Unix servers, works on most operating systems and standard web servers www.php.net)

          • ASP (Active Server Pages, Microsoft, on all Microsoft servers)

          • JSP (Javascript Server Pages)

          • Perl (Standard CGI language, on nearly every server)

        3. Database

          • MySQL (Open-source, standard on Unix servers, free, all platforms and servers, low-end but FAST, www.mysql.com)

          • PostgreSQL (Open-source, free, all platforms and servers, part of RedHat's package now, higher-end than MySQL)

        4. Comprehensive packages

          • There are a couple packages that will install Apache, PHP, MySQL, and Perl (etc.) all in one step, configuring everything for you so that it works immediately, on Windows as well as on other systems. Links to them can be found at www.php.net. The best at present is called PHPTriad. This is an excellent way to start. Learning to configure the backend software is important, but frustrating and difficult if things don't work correctly at first. If you choose to "do it yourself," read as much of the configuration documentation as you can handle, but still consider asking a friend to help with configuration when you start.

  2. Solicit Projects from Clients

    1. Request for Proposal (RFP)

    2. Contract

      1. Schedule Production, Maintenance, Review Process, Billing.

  3. Design Process

    1. Use WebMonkey Information Architecture plan

  4. Post Site using FTP

  5. Promote site

    1. Banner ads

    2. Email ads

    3. Partnerships with other sites

      1. Get them to post a link, announcement, or banner

    4. Radio ads

    5. Print ads

      1. Direct Mail

      2. Publications

    6. TV ads

  6. Maintain Site (as necessary; minimize the need by doing a good job at the outset)

    1. Use Site Statistics to evaluate needs

    2. Update with new information

      1. Consider using server side scripting and database for the data

    3. Revise Structure

    4. Add/Remove functionality

    5. Check for dead links

    6. Optimize download time