Teach Yourself Web Publishing with HTML 4 in 21 Days

Chapter 2: Get Organized



This chapter introduces concepts having to do with organization of Web sites. The objectives important to this chapter are:

  • World Wide Web document terminology
  • Organization Principles
  • Organization Methods
  • First approach: Searching the Web

Several terms about the Web are frequently misused. Learn these:

  • Web Site - a presentation on the Web, usually in one directory on one server
  • Web Page - one document on the Web, usually a file written in HTML
  • Web Presentation - one or a series of pages, having to do with one publishing related purpose
  • Home Page - this one has two meanings
    1. the first page that your browser opens, automatically
    2. the first page of a Web Presentation or Web Site; where a user is meant to start

Since a Web site can contain several pages, and since the whole purpose of the site is to communicate to a user, some principles that have to do with publishing on the Web should be considered by a Web site builder who wants to be successful.

  1. First, decide why you are building the Web site. Set a theme or purpose for it.
  2. Second, break the theme you choose into topics, each of which can be a page.
  3. Third, organize the pages, deciding how the user should see them, in what order. Several orders may be possible, which you will accommodate with links.

There are three very good reasons for not putting all your information on one page. People get bored and overwhelmed when too much information is shown to them at once. Also, lengthy pages take longer to pass across the net (this is called downloading the page), so users are happier when they jump to pages that load quickly (smaller, less complicated ones). Finally, organizing your site into multiple pages allows you to check whether you have covered all your ideas, and not left out anything.

Methods of organization:

  • Hierarchy - like a directory structure, or an outline with levels
  • Linear - a straight line from one page to the next
  • Linear with Alternatives - mostly linear with some choices
  • Combination - May be linear in some sections and hierarchical in others
  • Web - looks like a mess, without apparent flow. Takes the most effort to organize.

Whatever scheme you decide to use to build a Web site, you should take the time to make an outline of your ideas and them put them on a storyboard. A storyboard can be done very simply with index cards, each one representing a Web page. Lay the cards out on a table, an easel, a wall, anyplace, then shuffle them around to decide on the flow of your site. Make notes about what other pages each page should jump to. (Remember, of course, that the user should always have the ability to jump back to the last page viewed. If you don't build it in, the browsers already have it. That's what the "back" button is for.)

Storyboarding and outlining may also be done with pencil and paper, a whiteboard, or software. The important thing is being organized, not the tool used to do it.