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Some Notes On Web Design

by Scott Jason Cohen

There are a tremendous amount of Web design guides out there that tell you how to build your web page. I'm not going to go into HTML, CSS (although you should learn CSS, as it is so much cooler than HTML could ever hope to be), JavaScript (a singularly abused technology), and the like. Go to Project Cool or Glassdog's Design-O-Rama for comprehensive coding guides.

So, if you want to make your own personal site, I suggest the following process:

1) Look at other people's stuff. This is NOT an encouragement to steal, rip off, or blatantly copy other people's web sites. This is simply for inspiration. Check out Your Friends and Neighbors for lots of well-designed sites. This is simply to show you what is possible with this hack design language called HTML.

2) Don't get discouraged by what you see out there. Honestly. The programming is the easiest part. It can be a little intimidating when you look at some of these sites - you tend to think you can never do anything like that. can! Easy.

3) Say hi to Justin Hall. Notice the almost total lack of graphics, frames, style sheets, and other doohickeys? And it's one of my favoritest Web sites. Why?

Because of CONTENT.

I can't stress that enough. You can have all the bells and whistles, you can have Flash, JavaScript mouseovers, DHTML out the wazoo, but if you don't have anything to say, then your site will be a turd. A very well-polished turd, perhaps, and you'll get some OOHs and AHHs, but ultimately people won't come back.

4) And keep 'em coming back! Work at it. Work at a comfortable pace, however. Don't update every day unless you feel you HAVE to. Conversely, don't take months between updates - the Web looks askance at sites that just sit there.

5) Play around. Have a blast. If you're enjoying yourself, people will see that and stop by. And let's face it - if you didn't want anyone to read it, you'd keep a paper journal.

6) Don't lost track of your life. Remember, while you're sitting in front of your monitor screaming about transparent GIFs, things are happening out in the world. A Web site is neat, but it's not the reason for existence. Turn off the computer, stretch, go out, have fun, have a life.

7) Go to Fierce First Impressions. Visit some of the sites the Fierce people rejected. Don't make your site like these.

So there you go. Just the random comments of this guy. I hope you enjoy.

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