Sunday, November 13, 2005

Dr. Bootsie Considers Redesigning Her Web Pages

I've spent quite a bit of time the last few weeks learning more about Web design, and experimenting with revisions of my Web site and weblog. I am not sure whether this time has been wasted or not. I always enjoy learning something new, and I think I can improve my Web pages through reformatting them. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that I may be wasting time, and using this formatting expedition as an avoidance activity. As testimony supporting the second option, I quote from Philip and Alex's Guide to Web Publishing.

People with limited time, money, and experience usually build fairly usable Web sites. However, there is no publishing concept so simple that money, knowledge of HTML arcana, and graphic design can't make slow, confusing, and painful for users. After you've tarted up your site with frames, graphics, and color, check the server log to see how much traffic has fallen. Then ask yourself whether you shouldn't have thought about user interface stability.

I've taken to heart much of the advice offered in this entertaining and helpful book. In fact, I took this code (with a couple of insignificant additions) to my CSS file as well. From Chapter 5: Learn to Program HTML in 21 Minutes:

If you can't "just say no" to formatting your documents instead of working on the content, you might want to consider developing a site-wide cascading style sheet. Here's the cascading style sheet for the online version of this book ( ):
body {margin-left: 3% ; margin-right: 3%}

P { margin-top: 0pt; text-indent : 0.2in }
P.stb { margin-top: 12pt }
P.mtb { margin-top: 24pt; text-indent : 0in}
P.ltb { margin-top: 36pt; text-indent : 0in}

p.marginnote { background-color: #E0E0E0 }
p.paperonly { background-color: #E0E0E0 }

li.separate { margin-top: 12pt }

I also recommend The book behind the book behind the book... This is Greenspun's account of writing a computer book, what happened to it, and how it came to be available free on the Internet. If this doesn't jaundice your secret hopes of publishing a dead-trees book, nothing will. To my great embarrassment, I laughed out loud while sitting at the computer.

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