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The Old Man's Advice on Web Page design
(For in-depth training & techniques, check out  Griz Dozier's HTML School!)

       Page design for your pages on the World Wide Web is a subject that can generate more heated debate than anything this side of politics or religion... And, (somewhat like those subjects), web design is more a matter of personal taste and what you want to accomplish than what somebody says is supposedly "right" or "wrong" about any certain design!
       Anyway, before you design your webpage, you have to ask at least two questions;
(1) what do I want to accomplish? and,
(2) Who are my visitors going to be?

       First, you have to realize this paper is a very quick, surface look at some of the basic concerns with web page design.  For a really superb, well-written, easy-to-understand on-line training site, The Old Man highly recommends Larry "Griz" Dozier's school, "All-HTML.com."
       OK, that being said, let's get down to business: What do you want to accomplish with your website? Do you want to attract lots of visitors and sell widgits, or do you want to have a glitzy site to show off your ability to form colors and objects into a dizzying array of neverending changes of scenery and sounds for the entertainment of your close circle of friends? If you want to sell widgits you need to have a site that will load quickly with any browser or "legacy" (old) computer, be attractive to the eye and get the visitor looking at your product as quickly as possible. that means you need to have certain elements (called "Meta-Tags") within the "HEAD" carets of your webpage that will tell the "web-bots" that you are at www.yoursite.com and you sell widgits. That's so that when a customer looking for widgits clicks into one of the search engines and asks for "widgits" it will return www.yoursite.com as one of the results of search and your customers can find you more easily.
       Normally, people who are after a product DO NOT want to sit and wait for byte-hog objects (pictures, jpegs, gifs, banner-names, etc.) to load. They want their screen to fill with information in less than ten seconds. When I had my books posted on my first website, one female executive from N.Y. told me she loved to visit my site because the pages "load like a rocket, are easy on my eyes, and the stories are good." She said that she (and her busy friends) will click away from any site they can't start reading well before 15 seconds. That means, if you have to have "objects" on your page, then put them at the bottom. Let the top part with the information load first so visitors can start reading, and let the "objects" occupy the last portion of your page.
       How do you get your site to load fast, and what's the difference anyway? Well, I'll give you two clicks here. One click will take you to a "freehosting site" and one will take you to a "not-free hosting site". The "not-free" ($12.00/month) site is  "Here", and the "freehosting" site (no $-charge, they put ads on your pages) is "Here". Not too much difference on these two, right? That's because the free one is on Tripod, who has very robust systems. But notice some of the crawl-rates on others as you prowl around the 'Net!
 (Just close those windows to return here.)  See the difference in "load-times", even though you were loading pages of similar sizes?
So, what caused the difference in load times?

       The difference in load-times was that the phone lines, server connections, modems, cpu... had to load not only the page at both sites, but at the "freehosting" site it also had to load the "objects", (banners, pictures, jpegs, gifs, background patterns, etc.) with the same resources. The ads pay the bills of course. The lesson here, is: If you want to sell widgets, and keep busy people coming to your site, you have to write your pages with the "KISS" principle: "Keep It Simple, Silly"!
       OK, how do you "keep it simple"? One of the easiest ways is to use "colors" for your page background, instead of "background images".

This is a background color
This is a background image

       Whether using "colors" or "backgrounds" to give the "paper" of your page a personality, be careful of one thing: Use a font color that will still show up, even if your background doesn't load, or if your visitor's browser/monitor doesn't render the background colors in the first place. If your visitor's screen makes your background white, and your text is white, they're "gonna see nothing"!! Another way to make your page load faster is to stay away from "animated" objects, large music files and large "banners". Most people have seen all the dancing frogs and flashing signs they can stand anyway, so they probably won't improve your webpage or attract more visitors ... Unless you belong to the Dancing Frog Society or your main customer gets a charge out of comparing the dancing frogs and bases his purchases on the basis of who is the winner! But if your site is a fun site, you and your friends try to out-do each other for glitzy pages and the latest streaming "stuff", then by all means go for broke, damn the Ram, full speed ahead!!!
       Finally, test your page thoroughly before you post it to the server. Then test it again, hyperlinks and all, after you upload it to the server. After it works correctly, test it again with another browser, 'cause they display pages differently. If you have links to other web sites outside your own, test them once in awhile 'cause other people move their pages around and it will require you to modify the hyperclick or remove it as the case may be.      Now, go forth, get yourself a domain (or a free site if you're just starting out) and write a page, ... ANY old page, just to get started and learn how to make it look like what you want. Then when you get tired of that one, change it to something better. Maybe you'll end up being the next owner of a huge Internet operation... or maybe you'll discover it just isn't your cup of tea, throw out the 'puter and go back to work on the yard, or pickup truck, or snowmobile, or stamp collection, or whatever. If you've read this, though, I'd suspect you at least want to try it, so get busy, go make your own webpage!!!

Here Are A Few Places You Can Get Started For Free!!!
     
Your Own ISP Gave You Server Space, Use it!!
     BraveNet(loads of space free, narrow ads at top of page for free hosting )
     Tripod(50Meg of space free, ads disappear on mouse click)
     Angelfire(11Meg of space free, ads disappear on mouse click)

       "Hey, Old Man, can you tell me what I should look for in a place to show off my web-page?"
       Sure, no problem, just click these words: A Few Domain Hosting Ideas.
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