Resources for Web Page Construction

Steven Rice

Introduction
There are many ways to construct Web pages. Commercial, shareware and public domain programs are available to help in the construction your site. Educators can find a wealth of free services and information on the Internet from whole site building to simple graphics editors. Here are some of my thoughts on the creation process.

Find your Content
Content, Content, and Content are the driving forces for the Internet. Collect the information you wish to inform others, text and graphics you want to display to the world. Have others in you organization contribute articles, lesson plans, and projects that will help describe your organization. You will probably not get everything at once, but start anyway. The structure of your pages will take shape and develop into a strategy for your site. Don't forget that it can all be changed.

Find your Editors
To start creating a Web page is as easy as finding a word processing program or even Notepad on Windows. Modern Windows word-processing programs from Lotus, Corel and Microsoft allow you to "Save As" an HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) file format. This gives you the ability to use old documents on your Web site.

Netscape and Microsoft's newest Web browsers also have editors built into their systems to handle the text and graphics. Using the browser allows better control of linking and table creation in your pages, also lets you see the page, as it will be view on the Internet.

You can also find custom Web page editors. Microsoft's FrontPage, Claris' Homepage and Adobe's PaperMill are few of the many commercial products available. These complete systems can work for just a page or to design an entire Web site.

Graphic editing programs like Corel Draw and Adobe PhotoShop are professional programs and can cost hundreds of dollars. But there are many other programs available that can work just as will for a lot less. The one I like is Jasc Software's Paint Shop Pro. The program you select must be able to save files in ether JPG or GIF file format, or both; these are the preferred format for use over the Internet. If you have access to a scanner, use it create files from photographs and other images that are not already in digital form.

Find an HTML guide
HTML is the use of embedded tags, which are inserted into a text file that a Web browser uses to display the information.

Bookstores are full of books covering different approaches to writing tags. Finding the right book is a matter of individual taste. Some folks want just the bare minimum of information, while others might want to have a complete encyclopedia. Make sure that the text covers HTML version 4.0 or later. Spend some time looking over these books before your purchase. Be sure you find the one that is good for you.

A class is a good way learning about HTML. I had the opportunity to attend the Southern LINCS Consortium's basic Web publishing courses at Texas A&M University. I found the step by step instruction very helpful. Again, the class needs to cover HTML version 4.0 or later.

With Internet access, you can download many guides. World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the organization that standardizes HTML. Their Web site is www.w3.org. You can find just about everything you want on HTML coding.

Remember; don't let the tags or coding stop you from doing Web page construction.

Find a Style Guide
Many of the books, classes and Internet resources on HTML will offer you help in the look and feel of your pages. A style guide can offer hints and elements of desktop publishing you will find useful for page design. A site that has improved my process in developing pages is the Yale University School of Medicine's Center for Advanced Instructional Media. Their site can be found at info.med.yale.edu/caim/manual/content.html. I have downloaded all the pages and printed them out for a reference.

Summary
There is much information on Web page construction. The World Wide Web is an ever-changing environment and to stay ahead will require effort on your part. Remember help is on-line for those who want it. I hope you find these suggestions helpful in your project.