Vol. 20, No. 1 • January 2000
Doing It Right: Web Design for Library Types
by Janet L. Balas
|“We tinker, break stuff, figure things out ...”|
Moving from Print Design to Web Design
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In addition to the main
information pages, the site has a New This Month section that features
editorials and product reviews. Previous editorials are archived on the
site. There is also an extensive set of links to other sources of
information on Web design. A topical index and search facility can be used
to locate information on a specific topic. An unusual feature of this index
is its ability to also search the site’s links to other resources. A Web
Page Design for Designers mailing list is available for visitors who would
like to be informed of updates to the site.
An Interesting Question: Do You Want
to Be a DevHead?
ZDNet Developer (or DevHead), part of the vast ZDNet Web site, is a comprehensive resource for budding Web designers. The information is divided into four topic areas: coding, design, back-end, and resources. The design topic covers usability, accessibility, graphics, multimedia, and standards. Jakob Neilsen, a well-known voice on usability, writes a monthly column entitled “Users First” as one of several features on this important subject. There are also articles dedicated to the basics of building usable Web sites, and tutorials that demonstrate specific techniques for improving usability. The other areas of design—accessibility, graphics, multimedia, and standards—are covered in a similar manner.
DevHead also offers links to NetMechanic’s Web tools. These tools will analyze a site and point out problems and possible improvements. The browser check will display a site’s Web pages as they would be seen in the various browsers, while the link check will, as its name implies, check a site’s links and note any broken ones. Load check will analyze the load times of a site’s Web pages at various access speeds and identify parts that are too slow. If the graphics on a page are causing it to load slowly, then the GIFBot tool can be used to optimize the graphics. Errors in HTML coding can be detected with HTML check, while the spell check tool can eliminate those embarrassing misspellings. These tools are free for up to 20 pages. You can check a larger site in its entirety using NetMechanic’s tools for a fee. Further information on NetMechanic’s services is located on the company’s Web site.
The ZDNet Developer site
has so much information that it can be overwhelming and leave the aspiring
Web developer with more questions than answers. DevHead’s Talking Heads
forums provide the opportunity for experienced and inexperienced Web designers
to discuss Web-related topics. The Heads-Up Newsletter, a free, twice-weekly,
electronic newsletter, keeps DevHead users informed of the latest downloads,
tutorials, and columns on the site.
An Online Workshop that Includes Multimedia
Microsoft offers help for Web developers through the MSDN Online Web Workshop. The workshop covers all aspects of Web development from design through the latest technologies. The section devoted to design provides information on layout and design, Web technologies, tools, color management, and typography.
As would be expected, Microsoft
products and technologies are emphasized in this workshop, but there is
still a great deal of useful information that applies to all designers.
Of particular interest are the interviews with experienced Web designers
who share their ideas about good Web design. There are also multimedia
resources, including graphics and sounds, available for download along
with the tools to work with them and an extensive set of links to other
Is Your Web Site Cool?
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In addition to its own offerings, projectcoolmedia partners with others to bring more resources to Web designers. High Five is a Web-based weekly design magazine that is dedicated to promoting excellence in design. Each month High Five reviews sites that demonstrate good design, interviews an online designer, and offers a feature presentation on a specific topic related to Web design.
Another projectcoolmedia partner is A List Apart, which is a weekly online magazine and a moderated mailing list. A new issue of the magazine appears online every Friday, and digests from the discussion list are available in the online archive. Membership in the mailing list is free and is required for participation in the discussion.
Webmonkey is a Web developer’s
resource from HotWired. The authors of Webmonkey explain what they do in
their Webmonkey Tour, and I quote, “We tinker, break stuff, figure things
out, and pass the information on to you.” The site concentrates on presenting
tutorials on all aspects of Web authoring and design, but also includes
articles and commentary in its How-to Library. Design is one of the categories
and is further organized into these subtopics: site building, graphics,
and fonts. On Webmonkey, you can learn Web design basics, techniques for
optimizing your site, or, if you’re thinking of completely redoing your
site, you can work through the tutorial on site redesign prepared by five
Web design experts.
Putting the Principles of Design into
I’ve been planning to do some redesigning of my library’s Web pages for some time now, but before I do, I am going to spend some time at the sites I’ve discussed in this column. I just hope that after I learn more about good Web design I won’t be as embarrassed by my early Web pages as I am when I look back at my first printed newsletters.
Janet L. Balas is library
information systems specialist at Monroeville (Pennsylvania) Public Library.
She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Page Design for Designers
MSDN Online Web Workshop
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