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Things to Keep in Mind While You're Writing HTML

You can do certain things to ensure that your page is as useful as possible and that it will have the largest possible audience. First, keep this in mind: The whole point of the Web is to get information to people. That's it. Your job as a designer is to ensure that people get their information and have as pleasant an experience as possible doing it. Your information can be text, images, sounds, or services. Along the way, it's nice if you're able to entertain people, but that's not always essential. Sometimes the greatest pleasure people derive from a Web page is that it's easy to get what they need out of it and that it loads quickly. Although it's entirely possible that you have a Web page that needs these tools, you have to be willing to cut off a certain percentage of your possible customers. The Web site for amazon.com, with all its sophistication, works without graphics, Java, ActiveX, or even cookies.

Following are a few tips that you should be mindful of while you are writing your Web pages:

  • Watch the size of your images. One of my own great downfalls in Web design is that I usually think that my images are very clever and assume that everybody wants to look at them as much as I do. For that reason, I'm tempted to make them bigger and use less .jpeg compression than I ought to. After all, who would want to look at my beautiful Home button only 42 pixels high when it looks so much better 80 pixels high? I like to think that everybody has a 21-inch monitor and spends minutes scrutinizing the least of my design, remarking about how gorgeous it is, and saying that to compress it even 1 percent would be a crime. Truth be told, most people are look at these support graphics only in passing. The balance between size and quality should usually be struck closer to the side of usability than most Web designers would like.

  • Who's writing your code? A lot of WYSIWYG programs that generate HTML do so in a profoundly confusing manner. It's possible that the program you're using to write your Web page is writing using proprietary HTML that is not universally recognized by all Web browsers. Using a utility that converts an existing file to HTML often confuses the code so much that it makes future hand editing extremely difficult. If you're using something like Microsoft Word to generate your HTML, try your HTML in multiple browsers before you upload it.

A reference such as Navigator/Explorer Comparison can show you some of the differences in the ways the two major browsers interpret HTML.

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