Consider the Web site you are planning to develop. As you advance through
the lesson using the Table of Contents in the left frame, answer the planning
questions posed. Some of the questions will relate to your audience and
other aspects of development. If you have not defined who your audience
will be, answer the questions for an imaginary site.
Complete the following:
- Site purpose
- A storyboard for your site (your file structure)
- Proposed links within your site and three to outside sources
- Audience analysis (who are they, what technical support might they
- Technological issues related to access by your audience (typical access
- Content and cognitive issues you will need to address
- Accommodations you will need to make for a diverse audience
- Teaching issues to be addressed if you are developing an instructional
At this point you can be relatively brief. You may be outlining issues
you must answer. This exercise should be useful. It provides assistance
in developing your initial plan for your World Wide Web Site Development
assignment which states:
Develop a special education or rehabilitation home page and associated
documents for the World Wide Web.
The due date will be in class announcements within WEST.
Be sure to follow external links in the Planning Your Web Site lesson
to expand your learning.
This assignment is worth MORE (20
What do you want to do with your Web site?
- Web information providers usually attempt to accomplish one or more
of the following (Holden, 1995 & Lemay, 1995):
- Provide personal information (Who you are, what you do, why people
might want to know about you).
- Provide information on a topic or special interest (e.g., hobby, collection
- Publish information in the form of newsletters, magazines, articles,
poems or other documents.
- Provide company or institutional information as a public relations
- Provide online documentation.
- Deliver a catalog via and Web and handle shopping or purchase requests.
- Poll or gather opinions as a part of a marketing or research function.
- Teach a skill or course.
- Recruit members or students for organizations or institutions. This
might be considered a public relations function.
- Your Web site will probably fit within your organization's overall
- Design within the image of your organization or to express your individuality
if your site is of a personal nature.
What are the goals for your site?
- What information will users of your site need?
- What should users be able to accomplish at your site or on each page
of your site?
- How can you organize your site and the information in it to meet the
needs of the users?
- What will keep them coming back?
- What structure will facilitate access to the information on your site?
Specify the goals for your site before you begin the design process.
How should content be organized?
- Content on the Web refers to text, graphics, media, interactive forms,
or other forms of interactivity.
- Break up your content into main topics.
- Chunk related information together under a single topic. Your goals
and topics will be closely related.
- What specifically will you be describing in the different sections
of your Web site?
- Don't worry about order at this time. Remember you can hyperlink the
information and use a structure that fits your information needs.
- Typical information organization structures include:
- Linear with alternatives
- Linear and hierarchical
- Web like
- Develop your content before you develop your layout and design.
Developing a storyboard (Lemay, 1995)
Next, decide what information goes on which pages of your Web site.
One effective way to do this is through the use of a storyboard. The storyboard
will allow you to outline your pages and content and even indicate links
from one piece of information or page to another. This allows you to develop
each page without having to remember exactly where that page fits into
The storyboard helps you organize your information. You can use index
cards and string or a simple outline on paper or a computer program. If
you use index cards, let each card represent a separate page. List the
topic or topics for the page. Lay out your cards and use the string to
indicate links between pages. You will have some links that will be to
URLs outside your site. Add these to your cards. Determine if links flow
in one direction or are bi-directional. Remember to not leave users at
a deadend page.
Hints for storyboarding (Lemay, 1995, p 44)
Things to think about:
- Which topics will go on each page?
- What are the primary forms of navigation between pages?
- What alternative forms of navigation are you going to provide?
- What will you put on your home page or the entry page to your site?
- How do your goals fit within your organization and design?
A link to a PowerPoint
presentation will provide examples of storyboards. You will need the
PowerPoint viewer to use the file. It has been installed on the computers
in the classroom in Taylor Ed. Building. A site for downloading and installing
will provide you with the right stuff. The instructions for configuring
Netscape will get you started.
- The cognitive needs of novice users are different from expert Web surfers.
Those with considerable experience will be able to navigate back even if
they leave your site to explore other links. Tell novices how to return.
- Novices also have different needs in relation to mastering facts, concepts,
procedures and principles. Morris and Hinrichs (1996) provide suggestions
for meeting the needs of novice surfers.
Table 4-3 Cognitive Needs of Novices (Morris and Hinrichs p
|Facts and definitons
||Provide immediate access on same page.
Limit supplementary links.
(e.g., What is VRML?)
|Tell them what things are and what they are not.
Give examples on the same page.
How do you do this task?
|Put one link away from origin.Use standard numbering.
Speak in the command form (Do this.).
Provide direct link back to site.
How does this thing work?
|Use graphics to show overall process.
Include maps so users know what is next.
Put one link away from origin.
Provide direct link back to site.
How would you best handle something?
How would an expert decide what to do?
|List three or four bulleted items.
Identify clearly as a principle.
Who is your audience?
How do you design for their needs?
Consider the prior Internet experience of those using your site and
their knowledge and experience with computers in general. These factors
impact the amount of guidance and assistance your users will need.
- What basic skills will your users have?
- Basic computer skills
- Typing skills
- Navigational needs
- Mailto form experience and access (not all browsers have mailto: capability)
- Orientation needs
- email use/ knowledge and access
- What other skills define site users?
- Discovery skills (Are your users comfortable experimenting and finding
out for themselves?)
- Organizational skills
- Priority skills (Do users only need top level information?)
- Prior subject/ content knowledge
- Prerequisite skills of the users
- What is your audience's surfing experience?
- What is the expected use of the site?
- How much guidance do you expect users to need? Experienced surfers
will have certain expectations and know how to deal with multi-level information
structures; novices will need assistance.
If your site provides instruction, what type of students will be using
your site (e.g., traditional, nontraditional, on-site, off-site)? Will
your site serve individuals with disabilities (e.g., low vision, color
blindness, hearing or physical impairments)? If yes, what accommodations
will you use to make your site accessible?
How can you accommodate differences?
Web Design Guide suggests that you:
- Provide alternate text for images
- Provide downloadable files in cross-platform format
- Let users select multiple versions of your pages
Design an accessible site. For more information see:
What technical factors impact the delivery of Web documents?
How do these factors impact your planning process?
- What platform and browser will most of your site users have? Browsers
render HTML differently. Whenever possible view your pages in several different
browsers on different platforms (e.g., Macintosh, Windows, Unix) with graphical
and text only browsers.
- Connection and transfer speeds vary greatly. Users rarely wait for
huge pages or images to load. As Internet traffic increases, connection
and transfer rates slow down.
- Design for the "lowest common denominator" of the hardware/
software limitations of your target audience. This ensures the greatest
access, but limits the bells and whistles you can include on your pages.
Decide what is most appropriate for your target audience and your main
purpose. If you must communicate the information to a diverse audience
with minimal hardware, design for the minimum or offer users the option
of selecting a no frills version that still provides the critical information.
- Will access be via modem or ethernet connection? If by modem, at what
speed? Will some users connect via a commercial service and have to pay
for access? Users with slower modems may not have much RAM.
- Bandwidth is a critical element. Consider the "weakest link,"
or lowest common denominator. Design for the slowest link on the path from
client to server.
- Minimize file size.
- Use small images or thumbnails to link to larger graphics.
- Repeat images where possible. Once an image is loaded in memory you
do not have to spend time downloading. Use the same bullet and/ or horizontal
rule on the entire page.
- As a rule of thumb, allow 1 second per 1k of file size on a 14.4 modem.
Try to keep total page size to under 30k for faster access. The following
table from Morris and Hinrichs (1996) provides ideal transfer rates for
a variety of connections (p 18). Remember these are ideal.
Ideal Transfer Rates
Data Transfer Method
||Low-end cable modem (shared)
||Low-end cable modem (dedicated)
||High-end cable modem (shared)
||High-end cabble modem (dedicated)
- Standard Macintosh monitors display at 72 dpi, PCs at 96 dpi, and Unix
boxes at a higher dpi. You make images sizes, as measured in kilo bytes,
smaller by reducing them to 72 dpi prior to loading on the Web. Use GIF
or JPEG format for images. Interlaced images and including width and height
specifications for every image enhances accessibility.
- Know the difference between GIF and JPEG images. JPEG images typically
compress better, are smaller, and load faster and are best for photographic
images. JPEG compression does cause loss of some information. GIFs do not
loose any image data during compression and are generally better for displaying
line drawings and solid colored graphics.
- What type of (b & w, color), size (14 inch, smaller, larger) color
(number of colors in display) monitor will most users have for viewing
your page? If the color in images on your page is critical to the information
you are providing (or concept you are teaching), will the color be exact
enough for the users to make the discriminations needed? Different platforms
have different color palettes and can cause great difficulty if exact color
matching is important. Will any users be accessing via laptop? Think about
that screen size. Apple Macintosh computers usually come with 16 million
color capability by default and monitors for this platform usually have
a higher gamma value. This may cause light problems in images. If you know
all or almost all users will be using the Netscape browser, you can standardize
your images for the Netscape palette. This helps eliminate some cross-platform
- Keep your pages to a maximum of 480 to 500 pixels and they will work
well on 14" and 21" monitors. Design for 256 colors and the majority
of users will be able to view your pages well.
- Will your site require the use of any special helper applications or
plug-ins? Will you provide download from your site or link to other sites
for the files? Will you provide installation instructions and technical
support? Remember novice users will be reluctant to install software and
configure Netscape for your site. You will need to provide sufficient support
to enhance the probability that novices will access the full capacity of
- Will you want to restrict access to your Web materials to a certain
segment of users? You will need to work with the webmaster where your information
resides to do this. It is possible to restrict by domain or password.
What special issues are related to delivering instruction via Web pages?
If you are using your site to teach distance learning courses, how will
you handle the following issues?
- If you are going to require submission of assignments using HTML, will
you provide templates, will you teach HTML, or will you expect students
to be self taught? If the students are to learn on their own, what self-instructional
resources will you provide, if any?
- Will you offer options for completing assignments (e.g., will you accept
traditional paper submissions instead of HTML or email responses)?
- Is lack of computer access an excuse for late assignments? How will
you account for this in your grading policy?
- If you are employing online quizzes or tests, how will you verify who
did the work?
- What other considerations would you need to make?
How can you help users find their way around your site?
Web Design Guide suggests that you:
- Take advantage of keywords.
- Provide a directory or map of your site.
- Show users where they are.
- Minimize the need to scroll and resize.
- Use descriptive titles.
- Choose the appropriate depth versus breadth for your site.
- Use appropriate navigation buttons.
- Avoid dead ends.
- Include internal links on long pages.
- Include links to key locations in your web sites.
- Duplicate navigational items at the bottom of your pages.
- Be consistent in the placement of navigation links.
- Use cross references.
- Provide a search mechanism.
How can you guide users and eliminate nasty surprises?
Web Design Guide suggests that you:
- Tell users what to expect.
- Provide an introduction.
- Help orient users.
- Links should indicate what they link to.
If the link connects to a file that downloads, let the user know what type
of file it is. If the file type or your site require special plug-ins or
helper applications, provide links to these and instructions for use.
- Advise users of file size before downloading.
How does layout affect the utility of your site?
- Users tend not to scroll. Keep pages to a 2 screen length maximum as
a rule of thumb.
- Remember that HTML was designed to convey the structure of your document,
not the layout. Use "accurate" HTML and your pages will look
clear and professional on any browser.
- The reader has ultimate control over how your page will display. The
reader selects fonts, background and link colors, and the inclusion of
images. Design for flexibility and your pages will work well under most
- Don't bury information. As a rule of thumb, three clicks to information
is about as deep as users want to go.
- Use white space liberally and to your advantage. Remember your text
can be treated as a design element.
- Establish a layout grid for your site. This is a consistent design
for the layout of major page elements. For example, you might have a banner
across the top of each page and navigational buttons down the side or across
Is your site completely functional?
- Do all features (e.g., links, frames, graphics) on your site actually
- If you do not have almost 100% functionality, you will frustrate users
and drive them away.
- Functionality is related to maintenance. You must maintain active links
and provide new information to keep users coming back to your site.
- As a part of your site plan, determine the degree of maintenance needed
for each section and develop a plan for regularly scheduled maintenance
tasks. Assign someone to do this. There are some server packages that help
to automate checking and updating links. If you have a large and complex
site, consider investing in this software.
How do you organize files for a large and complex Web site?
Typically you develop your Web files on your local computer and then
up upload them to your Web account. To facilitate this process, it is best
to organize your files locally in folders or directories with exactly the
same structure you will have in your Web account. Set up a mirror image
of your Web account structure on your local harddrive. Then when you upload
files your relative links will all work properly.
Try to use filenames that convey meaning and are in all lower case.
You can use your storyboard to determine file names for each page. This
will help you if you happen to forget why you attached a certain name to
a file. For complex sites it is best to keep track of file names and to
use folders or directories for organization and management.
Breaking documents up into small parts has benefits and drawbacks. If
you think users will want to print out the entire document, it is easier
for the user if it is one long file. For long files you will need to provide
a navigational structure that allows the user to quickly access the exact
portion of the document with the information desired (e.g., a table of
contents or index).
What do you need to know about copyright?
Information on the Internet is published and is therefore protected
by copyright law. You must have permission from the author or creator to
use copyrighted information and images. The work you publish on the Web
will be protected by copyright law. If you plan to use any copyright protected
information on your Web site, you will need to get written permission from
the owner. It is best to deal with copyright permissions early in the development
Some information may be covered by the doctrine of "fair use"
as when you use a brief quotation in a review or the use of a limited amount
of information to illustrate a point in instructional material. The courts
look at the purpose of the use and the potential economic effect on the
owner of the work to determine the limits of "fair use" (Holden,
1995, p 448).
The Library of Congress and the Copyright
Office Home Page provides information on copyright law discussions.
You also may find more information at The
- The capacity of a computer channel or data transmission
cable, often expressed in bits or bytes per second (Holden, 1995, p 507).
- Digital Signal Level 1 (DS1)
- Designates the combination of 24 DS0 channels
plus overhead bits into a 1.544 mbps T-1 data stream.
- fair use
- A legal doctrine by which courts can avoid rigid
application of copyright law when a work is reproduced for purposes of
comment, criticism, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, or research
(Holden, 1995, p 509).
- Graphics Interchange Format, a file format commonly
used with graphics or photos displayed on Web documents (Holden, 1995,
- interlaced gif
- An extra step in the information process that
allows you in three or more passes to display increasing amounts of information
from a gif file instead of just one line or another. Displays a low-resolution
version first, a better version next, and then a full-blown version (Holden,
1995, p 511).
- acronym for Integrated Services Digital Network;
- system telephone companies can install that is
6 times faster than the fastest
- modem; It also can transmit data and voice simultaneously
- Joint Photographic Experts Group, a graphic image
- A term for a digital carrier facility used to
transmit DS1 formatted digital signal at 1.544 mbps.
- A term for a digital carrier facility used to
transmit DS2 formatted digital carrier signal at 6.312 mbps.
- Apple Computer,
Web Design Guide" (July 11, 1996). http://www.cybertech.apple.com/HI/web_design/intro.html
(October 14, 1996).
on the World Wide Web for Macintosh" Hayden Books, Indianapolis,
- Lemay, L.
Yourself Web Publishing with HTML in a Week" SAMS Publishing,
- Morris, E. S. & Hinrichs,
R. J. (1996)
Page Design: A Different Multimedia" SunSoft Press, Mountain View,
- Smith, P. (1996)
- "Web Page Design" handout developed
by Patricia Smith University of Kentucky FACTS Center.
Developed by Rene Hales, University of
Kentucky, FACTS Center, October 1996
Comments? Questions? Suggestions?