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WebSite Design

The pages on this website are my first attempt at creating web pages. In doing so I used a combination of NVU which is a freeware web design software package, a text editor and web based HTML tutorials and references to create the necessary code to display the web pages. Initially I started using Windows Notepad as the text editor however it does not handle editing of paragraphs well if word wrap is turned on. With word wrap turned off it is ok except that you have to scroll horizontally to view long lines. As I prefer to see all my text within the one screen I switched to a freeware text editing application called Crypt Edit.  This provides syntax highlighting which is very useful in creating and editing the html code required to produce web pages. It also handles the display of text much better and has a tabbed document interface which allows me to have multiple documents and templates open to facilitate easy copying and pasting between documents. It also has a spelling checker.

Basically any word processing or text editor program is ok as long as the pages are saved as plain text documents with a html extension in the filename (e.g. "my_web_page.html" but without the quotes). I had also downloaded a number of what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) html editors and, whilst each one had some good points, they also had some shortcomings or produced a mish mash of code and also usually had too high a learning curve.

This is mainly due to the fact that these WYSIWYG editors use program code (the programming instructions used to make the WYSIWYG editor do what it does) to produce program code (the final html code used to produce a web page). For example, if you create a very basic web page with a heading, some text, a picture or two in the body of the page and a couple of links to other pages or Internet sites, the source code will be significantly different when written from scratch using a text editor and standards compliant html coding compared to using a HTML editing program to produce exactly the same result.

A good illustration of this is to use Microsoft Excel to create a basic page as described above and save it as a web page type in Excel. Create the same page using a text editor and html tags and you will see a significant difference in the source code. The direct html coding approach produces much cleaner coding and uses far less tagging to produce exactly the same result. Whilst web pages can be produced using Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft PowerPoint it is not recommended as they were not purpose designed to produce web pages and will result in inefficient and cumbersome html coding compared to purpose designed programs. Even a purpose designed program may still produce some degree of inefficient and unnecessary coding, some more than others.

A good example is Microsoft's FrontPage which is purpose designed web site creation and management software. It too will still produce html coding somewhat different to that produced by direct html coding . The coding produced using FrontPage may also create problems in having your web pages hosted on a server that is not running Microsoft or fully Microsoft compatible server software due to the proprietary nature of server extensions used in Microsoft's programs and systems. There is a great deal of information and comment on this topic on the Internet.

Adobe's Dreamweaver is generally regarded as the best web authoring tool, however cost and the learning curve associated with it would outweigh the benefits for most casual, home or hobby web page designers who simply want to set up and maintain a personal web site or a site for a club or association they may be involved with. Business sites can also be set up and function quite well without using sophisticated web authoring software.

These web pages are very basic at the moment and are only intended to convey information in a readable and hopefully aesthetically pleasing manner without the use of fancy effects whilst I work on mastering the more advanced techniques of web page design. I do however think that site content and layout are more important than flashy effects.

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Site Design & Content Copyright © Peter J Wills 2008-2009 All Rights Reserved
Last Updated 11 October 2008