Designing Your Web Pages

Ok, I don't claim to be an expert but here goes nothing.  Remember those book reports that you used to do in school?  Remember the outlines you used to have to create?  Well, that is exactly how you start designing your web pages, just like an outline of a book.  Or better yet, think of it as a Generation Report!   You have the oldest ancestor (The Main Page), then you have his children (your sections or other main topic pages), then you have their children. Ok, you get the picture.

Ok, now some basic tips to think about.  Not everyone can afford the newer high tech computers.  Many, including myself (I am running an old Pentium 100mhz  computer with a 28.8 modem and 48 mb ram) still have the old 14 inch monitors that does not support the real high resolutions (mine does go up there but I would have to place a magnifying glass in front to read it).  And not everyone is running the newer version of everything, like Internet Explorer or Netscape or Windows 98 and 2000 ( I am still running Windows 95a).  A lot of older computers have trouble with frames, applets, java scripts (ok these are some pretty high tech web stuff).  Main thing is, simple and slightly plain is better by far for all.  You sure want that elderly cousin that knows about your family, to find you.

Frames are another high tech thing that, believe it or not, I will state that I do not like.  They cut down on viewing space and you are forever scrolling back and forth to read the text.  Or you try to print, and you have forgotten to make sure you have clicked in the right frame and you print junk you don't want. But enough of my opinions, these are to be your pages and you are the creator and designer, so you choose what you want (I will still come visit <G>).

Graphics are another thing to watch for (I know I get carried away too).  Large graphics take a long time to load on older computers.  On mine, I have waited for 3 minutes to load pages, and with some I just move on.  Use the same graphics over if you can, and if not, then try to keep them small so they will load faster.  Keep your graphics and background compatible. Pages that have a wild background (like this one) need really not to have alot of graphics.  They just need some bars or line dividers, or maybe a banner at the top of the page. Do try to keep them in a theme of sorts.  A dancing alligator and a basket of roses are a bit much <G>.

Make your pages easy to navigate in. If you have something that you really want someone to see, then put a link on the main page. Keep information or items together, like the Chapter outlines. You don't want to put pictures of your trip to Florida on the same page as your Great Grandparent's Wedding picture, that is, unless they were there too.

Title your page well, after all, this is what some of the search engines look for.  In other words, don't just say "Ancestors of Debbie". Be specific, say your surnames or the Descendants of a particular ancestor. Place this same Title as the Heading of your Homepage.

Keep an update somewhere on your page so people know you do come back.  

Make sure all links are correct. You don't want to be like me, and have alot of typo's and broken links. You will have to check your links often cause in this fast paced life people move their web pages more than they change their socks.

Make sure your page is "G" rated.  If you want an X rated site, create another one.

Keep things of interest on your pages so people will want to come back and visit.  Make sure all the things on your site belongs to you.  If you include information that cousin Bob worked years on, then please give cousin Bob credit for his time and money. Don't take full credit for someone else's work.  This makes more enemies in families than anything, and then they have the tendency not to share.

Do tell a bit about yourself, but don't tell to much, after all you are still living. This brings up another thing.  If you place your genealogy pages online, please use one of the cleaners and remove all information about living individuals from your pages to protect their privacy.  There is nothing more shaky than to visit a family page of a distant cousin to find your SS#, home address, including street and house color, full birthdate, and even the date of your last surgery, online for all to see.

Do list contact information, such as email, and if you have a mailing address with a post office box, then you might list that, too.

As you get more familiar with building web pages you might want to add counters, guestbooks, and a few other goodies on your page, but they need not be there to get your first page up.

Ok, now you do not have to be a computer guru to build a web page. I have built pages from scratch, this means all HTML code, but now I, too, cheat and use a Web Builder program. Hey, what can I say, it's easier and faster.  There are some of these builders available on the Web Building Goodies Page and the one I use the most is AOL Press. No, it doesn't have alot of bells and whistles, but it does what I want.

When you are all through, then submit your site to a search engine or two.

Send your web address to me and I will post it on our site.

I taught Web Building Classes and you will find some of my students links below.  Check them out and let them know how they done. Sign their guestbooks, if available, if not drop them an email.

If you have any questions, just email me and I will try to answer, but remember, no promises <G>.


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