I'm trying to learn about webmaking

Indiana_IvyJanuary 7, 2003

I am trying to learn on my own, but would like to have a few pointers. I am a photographer, so, am trying to do a photography page, I have been using bravenet for some codes for my page, this is what I have done so far, please tell me what you think,ok?

Char, I like your photographypage, it looks very nice.

Indiana Ivy

Here is a link that might be useful: Indiana Ivy's photography page

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Ivy -
For starters ... the plural of photo is photos (not photo's).

You have way too many gadgets on the page ... if you want a bird picture site, don't put up anything that is not a picture of a bird. I see two birds, one game and several places that are asking for my email address and those of my friends.

Try www.htmlhelp.org for really good tips and links to tutorials.

http://www.useit.com/alertbox/ for great advice on usability and site design.

and websitesthatsuck.com (yes, it's for real) to examples of what not to do.

The background color is a ghastly purplish-pink that reminds me of pepto-bismol mixed with a bit of grape Kool-aid. With the bright blue text, it's like trying to read gang grafitti.
Something on the page keeps trying to get me to load a plug-in ... I assume you have somekind of a sound file tryng to play. If you had sound files of bird calls that the user could CHOOSE to listen to, that would be great.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2003 at 8:42AM
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Gee.......thanks Lazygardens........I think !


    Bookmark   January 8, 2003 at 9:35AM
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Background music is a great, great annoyance to people at work, and people playing music of their own on their computers which get over-ridden by a page they browse to. Plus, the MIDI's are typically at a higher level than most mp3s or wav files, meaning it sounds loud compared to the other sounds they are playing. Especially annoying is background music embedded in a way that visitors have to mute thier speakers or manually change the volume rather than addressing a control panel on the page which can quickly turn the music off.

Looks like you've changed the colors some before I saw this. The entry page could use the web links to be in a larger font and a more contrasting color, blue on black is too low a contrast to be read easily.

Take off any gizmo not directly tied to the function of the site. Counters are a bad idea, especially if you are considering referring people to this website as a portfolio in the future - you don't want people to think you are not popular. If the iphotographer page is also yours, remove the mouse-chasing letters, - another annoyance, it slows your site response down, and provides nothing of interest to a site visitor after bumping the mouse a couple of times.

I would strongly consider placing the that you are using as the background in the body of the document, thne changing your background color to black, so that you don't have to read light text over the image of the white rose. That would also allow you to format you page without shuch dependence on DIV tags for formatting (something I use occasionally, but avoid when possible.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2003 at 3:19PM
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Indiana Ivy: Hang in there. You have some beautiful things on your site but maybe needs a little rearranging. Most of us are simple folk and if a site is difficult to navigate we might give up too soon.

You obviously have a lot of talent and have mastered the techniques for building a site.

Step back and take a look at it as though you were a stranger visiting there and try to visualize what the 'stranger's' preferences might be.

No expert here, just observation.

Good luck to you. becca

    Bookmark   January 8, 2003 at 11:04PM
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Ivy ...
I keep getting "sent to Disney", although I can't see anything indecent or vulgar in the answer.

Try this: Use NO "font" tags, no backgrounds, no music, no videos, no j*av*ascript widgets, no whirling gizmos of any kind. Just make a set of pages (a small web) with plain text and pictures. (well edited, small fast-loading ones, with good descriptions). Link the pages to each other in a logical manner.

Build a personal site that wows the heck out of us with the CONTENT and the useful or interesting INFORMATION you have. Because there are so many pages on the web that are all frosting and no cake, special effects have become boring.

As absolutely simple as my sitepalace pages are (see the "My Page" link), I get fan mail about them - people like the pictures and the text, and have learned something or seen something they wanted to see. The sections are fast, no-brainers with nothing more than pictures, text, and tables or the HR tags to hold things in the right spots.

What I see now on your page HUGE white letters on a black background, with the words chopped off. It's different, but it's not any more readable. Having the links in white on black, matching what is apparently text in the background image, hides them.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2003 at 9:09AM
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What I am doing there is making a path to my photos. If you understand what I mean. I am building a site that is not just informative, but inspirational also. I will keep working on it until I get it the way I want it. The music....stays ! I like it, have you gone to picturetrail to see my work, that is what its all about mainly.

The rose is one from my own garden, and I made the background with paint shop pro 7. I guess you could say, I am a artist, and when your a artist, some people love it and some dont.

I got rid of the forum thing, that I didnt like as it turned out anyway, not the place for that. The card pick-up I do like, bravenet has a good setup for that, and good effects, if you like that sort of thing. I do. And I dont mind sharing some of my photos if someone likes them.

Ok, what color should the text be then ???


    Bookmark   January 9, 2003 at 10:09AM
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I just looked at your web page Lazygardener, I like the hummers they are very cute photos. Your right, it's plain .
You have more info than I do, except for the bird page I just started will have more info.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2003 at 10:20AM
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If you are going to leave the music, at least give the viewer a way to shut it off without having to pause their own music that's playing and having to hunt up the mute checkbox on the volume control as soon as they can. Or only have it on subpages with a warning on the front page so people at work (like me) don't have it announced to everyone within hearing distance that they are browsing the web and have gone to a site with a markedly unprofessional (and loud) background midi file.

I didn't comment much on the PictureTrail areas as I figured you probably didn't have a whole lot of control over how that was formatted beyond the color scheme, which someone with a photographic eye is going to get right all on thier own. Better descriptions, and perhaps trying to set up the albums so that they are better grouped and build a theme, would enhance a user getting "into" the feelings you are trying to impart upon them.

I liked the picture of the rose, but as the background image repeats down and across the page, the light text of the page overlaps the lighter areas of the background image - harder to read, and lazygardens points out it gets chopped off when repeating sideways - distracting. Just placing the image once at the top of the page (instead of having it as a tiled background) would keep it out of the way of the page content and looking neatly placed. Set the page background to black, keeping the text white, to hide where the image ends and the background begins. Set the colors of your links to lighter shades that ahve a good contrast with a black background, and use a larger font (looks like 8 point to me, use at least 12).

Actually, for the title and rose graphic, your best bet would be to break that into several images. In one set, place the text on a transparent background word by word as separate GIF images. In the other, put the rose in the smallest sized JPEG that works for it, leaving the background black. Create a two cell table. In one, place the title GIFS, with a couple of nonbreaking spaces between them (coded as "& nbsp;" with the space after the & removed). In the other cell, drop in the rose pic, using spaces, carriage returns, and centering commands to arrange the picture as desired. Email me for an example of a header we just did this way for a client.

Resize your browser window from fullscreen to a small window to see how things look on different monitor sizes, tweak as necessary for the best overall effect. Everyone has a different preference for browsing the web, if you try to force your preference on them instead of building a flexible site, they are not as likely to come back.

    Bookmark   January 9, 2003 at 12:26PM
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Ok Ray,

I am going to print this all out, because I'll never remember all of this information. I do appreciate all of the info. I will take some of your advise, but will also make it to "some" of my liking as well. So........hi ho hi ho, its off to work I go...........back later.


    Bookmark   January 9, 2003 at 4:57PM
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"have you gone to picturetrail to see my work, that is what its all about mainly."

No ... because I couldn't spot the link in all the page toys and decorative effects. If your work at picturetrail is "what it's all about", that link and some clearly readable descriptive text about what goodies you have there should be clearly visible on the opening screen, not buried somewhere on the page, overwhelmed by the background, or made inacessible by the page creation techniques.

Here's the harsh truth about visitors to web sites: The first screenful they see (no scrolling) has to make it perfectly clear what the site is about, and offer them a solid reason to think it's worth looking at and reach for the scrollbar or take a link further into the site. It's the shop window ... put your BEST product in there in an uncluttered setting.
They will click on the first interesting link they see in 10-20 seconds, and many times the most interesting link is the BACK button on their browser.

Any effect you add to any page beyond the basic content and links has to be evaluated for whether it contributes to the purpose of the page or detracts from it.

And you can't EVER assume that they will see what you see - monitor settings, browser settings and other factors will ensure that. Hmmmmmmm ...you've changed it again.

I see a big greyish "Indiana Ivys Photography Page" overlapping black small text of
"View my online
Albums here....."

And then it's a blank white page ... scrolling way down to the bottom (so far that the top text is off the top) I finally see tiny red links and some butons and more overlapping text.

I'm using Mozilla, the most recent release, and it's a HTML standards-compliant browser. I have a nice big monitor set to 1024x728 or highr resolution.

Looking at the code ...the (div style="position:absolute;left:14;top:835;width:81;height:22;") kind of coding when mixed with my large high-resolution monitor must be doing strange things.

HTML is capable of resizing and repositioning things to fit the visitor's browser ... if you let it. Absolute positioning like you appear to be using with the DIV means that you can nail things down on YOUR screen, but unless you can also ensure that ALL visitors will have the same monitor resolution as you used when you designed the page, and the same browser and settings in that browser ... things will be unpredictable. They invariably get worse, not better.

Take another look at my page: resize the window and notice how the table resizes to fit, until you reach the point where the table is too narrow to hold graphics and text ... then is shifts to scrolling. That's plain vanilla HTML with tables ... it doesn't matter what your screen resolution is, what browser you are using, or how big the browser window is. It adapts to the user's needs.

A big part of web design is realizing what you CAN control and what you shouldn't try to control. Absolute positioning of elements as if you were designing on a sheet of paper is not possible. Neither is control of fonts, background colors, or images (I can over-ride your page partly to completely, and I have my settings set for maximum legibility), Accept that, and it gets easier.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2003 at 8:31AM
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The page is blank because I just changed it last night and didnt get done, and I WONT be done for a long time.

I am sure some of your info is correct, but I find some comments a tad bit insulting. Are you a pro web builder ?

I am not, and dont understand a lot of your language, I will look at your site again, but I am sorry, it wasnt all that impressive to me. But thats just me.


    Bookmark   January 10, 2003 at 9:55AM
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The trick to designing a site is making it flexible enough were it looks generally how you want it for everybody who looks at it, but where people with special needs can still use the site without much trouble.

If you want an image lined up vertically beside a text string done as a graphic, and the two sets balanced on the page taking up a certain portion of the width (horizontal) screen space, then its better do place the graphics with things like a table set to 90% screen with, centered, and the images in the cells themselves arranged with centering and justification commands, becasue those are goingto keep things in the same *relative* positions no matter what screen size the end user is viewing with.

Absolute positioning using DIV tags makes a screen that looks great for one screen size, ok for the few sizes close to that, but it can create some truly unreadable websites on older browsers, non-Windows operating systems, browsers for the visually or physically impared, and people with significantly different monitor resolutions than the one it is designed on. DIV tags should only be used as a last resort, and then only for formatting major sections of the screen, and using smaller tables after that to handing particular strips of horizontal and vertical alignment.

I did use DIV tags on one page of my employer's site http://windhamschooldistrict.org/index.php and I had to go back and tweak the code very specifically at least a dozen times after viewing it with about 8 differnt browser & OS combinations in order to get results that looked better than laying it out in a table and living with a little extra whitespace. But without viewing it with both Netscape and IE on both a Mac and a PC, I could not tell how my choices for the DIV positionings and style tweaks were blowing up or causing text overlaps. It took about a week of tweaks before I was satisfied with it, and I've been designing web sites since before you could put pictures on a webpage.

Lazygardens *is* giving good advice. I always start my client's sites by laying out the content and the functional aspects. On the last site we did, the shopping cart and storefront was built before we even decided on a color scheme or a logo. Only after we laid out what we wanted the site to do, what we wanted it to say, and how we were going to lead their customers through the site did we start putting in bells and whistles. Why? Because the bells and whistles are secondary to the site content. Not everyone can hear background music or see images (some people block them from downloading to save bandwidth on slow connections) Everyone that browses the web can benefit from text. Even the visually impared can get benefit from a photo album with creative descriptions of what you want the image to convey. If you have company staying the night, you want to put clean sheets on the bed before dropping a mint on top. If you put the mint on the bed *before* changing the sheets, it only gets in the way while you are trying to get the truly necessary stuff done.

I'm not oppossed to putting fluff and frills on a page, *IFF* its something that enhances the page content instead of being something that intereferes with the real content of the page. Content and functionality has to come first, otherwise visitor set off looking for a site that's less of a pain to use.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2003 at 10:30AM
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Indiana -
Am I a professional web builder? Yes. Information design and delivery is how I make a living, and some of it does mean making web sites.
I've been on the design team for a major international semiconductor manufacturer's initial web site (1995?), the website and firewall building team for a major international financial institution, the web redesign team for another major international semiconductor manufacturer, and that's just the big projects. I've lost count of the small ones.

What's "impressive" about that site is the bulletproof design ... no matter how you have your browser fonts set, what resolution you have, or how big the browser window is, the content WILL come through intact. And all I want to do is deliver the content with no fuss.

I know how put all kinds of fancy effects in ... knowing HOW to do it is not as important as knowing when they will be effective and when they will be a turnoff.

Ray ...
Since BEFORE you could put pictures on web pages? WOW! That's ANCIENT! I got into it when tables were barely supported (Netscape was a pup, and Yahoo was a subdirectory at Stanford), and suffered brain-sprain trying to get used to thinking in 3-D with links.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bud Uglly

    Bookmark   January 10, 2003 at 10:17PM
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Wow! Now THATS impressive !

I'm sorry, I am a nobody, just someone who loves photography and wants to share some of my view of nature. No pro here, I have only been playing with webpages for a couple of years. You are the first person to bust my bubble, so I got a little discouraged. I had no idea there would be people out there who would not like my webpage, didnt even cross my mind. I probably should have not posted here, but, if only pros posted here, you couldnt help anyone. I have learned some things, so thank-you for that. I think I may be able to do a little better now. I am just into it for the fun of it. Is there really that many people who surfs the web while at work ?


    Bookmark   January 10, 2003 at 10:44PM
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Ivy -
"Is there really that many people who surfs the web while at work ?"
ROFL! Of course! (Ask any boss.) And some of us sometimes surf the web as part of our work. Seeing how the competition does their website is part of the job.

The main arguments for keeping YOUR pages simple are that they are easier for you to make, look better for more viewers, and you can make a lot more of them in the same amount of time and show off more birds.

And showing off the bird pictures is the goal ... all else is fluff and just makes an obstacle course.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2003 at 11:45AM
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I guessed that you probably did, Lazygardens, since that is your job. What I do though is not for competition, just for fun.

I will agree with you I had too much stuff on mine, I learned how to do html codes and went nuts. I was just happy that something actually worked that I did !


    Bookmark   January 11, 2003 at 1:53PM
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At first, pictures were included as file links, which you had to download and open in an image viewer. About the same time that images started being viewable inline, modifying text and background colors started being possible as well. I think the spec came out in '89 or '90, with browsers capable of doing it by '91.

I don't think LG or I have anything against experimentation and playing with the fancy stuff, I've been guilty of having counters and useless anitmations on my pages in the past. But now, very few frills make it past my form vs. function test, and if they do, I make sure the end user still gets good value from the site if their browser doesn't support the frills.

We wouldn't be pointing out the issues if we wanted this to be a pros only forum. I post becasue I really would like to see the quality of web content improve in general, even on personal pages. I *like* to give advise to ametuers, because they contribute the bulk of the unique content to the web, and I'm tired of wading through poorly designed pages to get to something useful. Also, the more people understand what makes a good web page, the less time I have to spend explaining to clients *why* they don't want all these bells and whistles when they start up a website for thier small business.

I'm going to agree with LG that simpler pages are easier to maintain and faster to develop. That means you'll have more time to get content developed, which is what you'll get the most satisfaction out of, and will have a greater impact on improving the web as a whole. We can see fluff anyplace, but real content is still rather hard to come by. You've got a lot of real content to offer, and I'd like to feel I've helped you figure out how to best present it for all to enjoy with a minimum of hassles.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2003 at 2:02PM
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Hello Ivy,

I only have a dial-up connection and that's what most of the people that are on the internet have. When I went to your site the first thing I noticed was how slow the pictures of the Sparrow and Mantis egg case loaded.

One thing you can do to increase the loading speed on those pictures is to down size them before you upload them. The Sparrow (Picture-002 loads at height=122 and width=94 but it is actually height+426 and width=328. The egg case loads at height=141 and width=186 but it is actually height=688 and width=912. That's why it takes so much longer to load than the Sparrow.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2003 at 10:33AM
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Hi Gene, (thats my brothers name),

I really do not like to put photos on a page much, because I know it takes too long to load them. Thats why I put all the links to my albums there. They are much easier to view. The bird page was just a experiment. I am going to remove the 2 photos on that first page, because of that.

Indiana Ivy

    Bookmark   January 19, 2003 at 9:03PM
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