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Planning the Site

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.)

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By: McGraw-Hill/Osborne
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 20
July 13, 2004
  1. · Planning the Site
  2. · Establish the Purpose of the Site
  3. · Make Basic Site Construction Decisions
  4. · Add Pages to the Site with the Site Map
  5. · Understand Basic Design Concepts
  6. · Use Collaborative Development
  7. · Use Site-Wide Find/Replace

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Planning the Site - Make Basic Site Construction Decisions
(Page 3 of 7 )

When you are working on sites for your own use, you are free to use your choice of development tools and platforms. This consideration becomes more important when you begin constructing sites for clients that already have ideas about the way they want things done. Often, you will be called upon to maintain or add to existing architecture. Convincing a client that has a considerable amount of work done in, say, ColdFusion, that they should allow you to do your part in ASP is a tough sellóand even if you can sell it, the client is often dissatisfied with the final product.

Although many developers work quite successfully in a number of languages, you will certainly want to build some space into your design plan if you will be working on a platform that is less than familiar to you. Dreamweaver makes the transition from one server model to another much easier, however, because the one tool works with five different server technologies and makes the transition between them almost invisible. Applying a server behavior to a JSP page is identical to applying the same server behavior to an ASP page or a ColdFusion page. Even with that in mind, the extra time involved in working outside of your primary language should be built into the cost.

The Siteís Design

Although you will likely begin to formulate the actual look and feel of the site only when you sit down at the computer and start fiddling with it, at this point in the process you can make some decisions that will help you when you get there.

Will the Site Be Based in HTML or in Graphics?

Sites based in HTML are typically made up of HTML text over a colored background or a tiled or image background. This technique can be used very effectively and gives a simple, no-nonsense interface when the information is the most important thing.

Sites based in graphics generally use a more intricate interface that is designed and imported from a graphics program such as Fireworks or Photoshop. The links are often graphic text overlaid with hotspots rather than text anchors.

Will You Use Frames?

Although frames were all the rage for a while, they seem to have fallen into some disfavor of late. There are certainly opportunities to make good use of frames, but you will typically find it cleaner to avoid them and the temptations they present. Too many sites end up framing in other sites, which frame in other sites, and the result is just a big mess.

Which of the Common Layouts Will You Use?

Several basic page layouts seem to work best on the Web. Although designers are forever looking for ways to differentiate their pages, the most usable pages seem to adhere to two or three basic layouts: the navigation bar on the left, the top navigation bar, and the page of links where the entire page is made up of columns that house links to other places. A few sites use a navigation bar on the right, but users seem to have grown used to these other three layouts and find them to be the easiest to navigate. Of these, the top and left navigation are the most common, except for sites that are primarily link related, like Yahoo.

Commit to Avoiding the Design No-Nos

Although you probably donít need to hear this, it is such an annoying problem that I need to say it. Text is unreadable when placed over a tiled image of your dog. Light yellow text is unreadable on anything except a solid black background. Iím sure the 1960s were a lot of fun, but tie-dyed page backgrounds are annoying.

Take care that you do not spend your time creating something that is unusable or annoying to your visitors. A quick tour around the Web will provide you with a great many examples of this. If you need help determining an appropriate design, seek it out on the many great Web design newsgroups or from a knowledgeable colleague.

Progress Check 

  1. What are the two main styles of site navigation?

  2. Can you easily change from ASP to ColdFusion after the site is halfway completed in Dreamweaver?

  3. How many server technologies does Dreamweaver MX natively support?

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.

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