This article features a step-by-step guide to working with the Site Map to create the basic outline of the site so you can visually framework your site and the relationships between the pages. Also learn how Dreamweaver makes it simple to ease into server-side work. (This is from the book Dreamweaver MX 2004: A Beginner's Guide, McGraw-Hill, ISBN: 0-07-222996-9, by Tom Muck and Ray West.)
Web designs are growing increasingly complex, and keeping a visitorís attention is getting harder and harder. Thinking about it from the perspective of a Web surfer, there are a few key things to consider these questions:
When you visit a site, how long do you wait for a page to load before you become impatient and close down the window? How much are you willing to read on a page before it becomes too ďwordyĒ? How many times can you watch the same spiffy graphic on a page before it becomes boring? What color combinations quickly become irritating or hard to read?
Plan and Design Your Site
When you begin to build a data-driven site, it becomes more important than ever that you take the time to plan and design your site. Too many people jump right into building pages without properly considering the details of what they plan to do. Not only will a lack of planning impact the quality of your final product, it may get you into a sticky situation with a client whose ideas about the site were different than yours. Building a Web page is easy, but building a Web application, possibly with a database backend, is no trivial task, and proper planning is a necessity. From the server type to the database type to the language you are going to useóthese are all considerations when planning out your Web site. You might have a background in Visual Basic but decide that the features of a ColdFusion site make it more cost-effective to do the site in ColdFusion. Or maybe you have access to JSP and MySQL but only know ASP. Dreamweaver MX 2004 works with five server technologies, so the environment is friendly to whichever server you choose.
Once youíve decided on a course of action, however, you canít easily change midstream. Dreamweaver doesnít have any built-in functionality for changing from one server technology to another or from one language to another if you are building an ASP site. It pays to plan your site in detail before building the pages. Although the techniques for building the pages are the same, the code thatís used in creating the functionality in the five server models is completely different.
TIP: You canít change midstream to another server technology in a site, but you can go back and re-create the functionality in another server model by simply starting from scratch with a page and applying the same server behaviors with the same parameters.
Here are some of the things you need to consider when planning your site:
The purpose and goal of the site
Your target audience
The tools and platforms available to you and your client
The siteís design
Your navigation scheme
Development time and cost
This chapter is from Dreamweaver MX 2004: A Beginner's Guide, by Muck and West (McGraw-Hill/Osborne, 2004, ISBN: 0-07-222996-9). Check it out at your favorite bookstore today. Buy this book now.