web site creation
Previous study: what for? for whom? how?
Well, we are determined to build a good Web site and in order to do this, the first thing we need to ask ourselves is "what do we want to create a site for?". It may seem a trivial question but it is very important, since if we clearly delimit the objective of our pages we will have made a lot of progress as regards setting the general scheme we would have to use on our Web site.
The design or contents of a site used to impart knowledge (a manual, for instance) are not the same as the ones of a site whose aim is to show a product catalogue, and the latter are not the same as a site whose aim is to sell those products or a site intended for e-banking. In all these cases, the necessary tools, databases and languages to use, both for the customer and the server, will also be different.
The next question to ask is who we are going to create our set of Web pages for, and this question must be divided in two: who our customer is going to be (the person or company we will create the site for) and who our potential visitors will be.
The first one is going to determine the content of the pages we must create, since they will express the spirit and image of the company, organization or individual we create it for, combining this image with the guidelines we obtained from the “what for” question. That is to say, if the Web site is going to be an on-line store, for instance, having all the technologies and tools needed, we will need to adjust them and the page design to the actual corporate image of the company selling its products. This includes the logo design and implementation, the use of corporate colors, etc.
As regards the second item, referring to who the pages are going to be mainly directed at, it depends. If the site to create is for computer manuals for beginners, we will need to create a neutral and general design, able for all types of audience, having clear navigation menus and easily-comprehensible texts. If it is for advanced manuals, our visitors are supposed to have enough knowledge of the topic to deal with and also a good Internet surfing experience, so we can have more leeway when designing menus and textual content.
If the site is a virtual store, we must in this case use a simple and intuitive navigation scheme, always clearly showing how to read the articles offered and how to buy and make a payment, since selling is going to be our main objective. We must make sure that the final user can access any of the articles in less that three mousse clicks, and that the form to enter personal information and credit card number (if that is the process) is as simple as possible, as well as offering a safety and reliability image.
And, of course, the type of audience the Web application will be directed at will determine the aesthetic design of the pages composing it. Thus, if the average user is young, colors and images must be vivid, bright; bright shades are allowed in this case. On the contrary, if the average user is a middle-age person, colors must be neutral, maybe pastels or greys, having little variation in colors or using serious colors, such as dark blue. Anyway, an appropriate color and graphic study must be carried out for each type of final user.
The last question we will ask ourselves is how to apply what we said before and the answer belongs to the complex site creation process. The necessary steps will heavily depend on the premises previously obtained, so, from now on, we are going to take into account the most general case possible.
Anyway, there is no doubt that the first thing we need to do now is to get all the possible information about the work to carry out. If we are going to design a Web for a company or business, we must go over as many catalogues, brochures, magazines, images, etc. of our customer as possible, since we will be able to get a general idea of its corporate colors, logotypes, the image they want to convey to the public, advertising campaigns previoulsy made, etc. That is going to help us a lot to design a Web site suiting the image our customer already has, adjusting it to the Web environment. From that information, we can also get ideas about the kind of products they handle, the target audience, etc.
Types of Web structure
The structure of a Web site refers to the arrangement of the links among the different pages composing it; that is to say, the general layout scheme for the pages and how to access them.
The main types of structures are:
1) Hierarchical structure:
it begins with a home page allowing to access to the different secondary pages, and these ones in turn give access to tertiary pages, and so on and so forth. If we use a hierarchical structure, we can create a general menu from the home page, to give access to the different section entrance pages, and in each of them we should set up another menu for the user to access all the pages composing it. In each of the individual pages, we should establish links to the different main sections and to the home page.
2) Linear structure:
in this one, from a home page, the other Web site pages can be sequentially seen, one after the other. Its arrangement is similar to the structure of the pages of a book. Each page has a link to the previous page in the sequence and another link to the following one. The typical menu of this type of structure is the access to an entrance page, from which you can only access the page following it on the sequence, and in this one we will find a little menu, usually placed on top or at the bottom, from which to access both the previous and the following page in the sequence and so on and so forth, until we reach the last page, where there is only going to be a link to the previous page. Due to its design and navigation effects, this type of structure is rarely used in its pure form.
3) Linear-hierarchical or mixed structure:
as its name shows, it is the mixture of the two previous ones, where from a main or home page you can access the different section entrance pages, and from this ones on, navigation is linear. This is the scheme that we use here in your portal, HTML Web, where we access any article from the section head pages, then surfing one by one the different chapters composing it. If this type of hierarchy is used, we must place a menu on the home page to access the entrance pages for each topic to deal with, and in each of the pages composing the topic sequence, we will have to establish a link to the previous page and another link to the following one. As a complement, each of the one can have an enabled link to the page opening the sequence and in each of them, another link to the home page.
4) Frame structure:
this is the characteristic frame-based interface where the user has an always present menu so that he can at any time access the entrance pages to the different Web site sections, from where he can surf in a hierarchical, linear or mixed way. This type of structure is usually combined with a hierarchical or mixed one helping us to surf among the main subtopics, which we can access from the side frame.
The menu system is usually a menu placed on a side frame that never changes, from where the main site sections can be accessed, whose home pages are loaded on the central frame, usually bigger. To access the different subsections and pages, the appropriate links can be established as submenus on the side frame or as individual menus within each section entrance page, within the main frame.
5) Web structure:
where we can freely organize the different pages. This is the simpler ones for designers but sometimes it may be too confusing for users, since it allow us to view our site aimlessly, being able to access from any page to the contents of an uncertain set of other pages. Its use is not advisable, since it is usually chaotic. These are the main types of Web site structures. A mixed or frame type is generally used, always depending on the nature of the site.
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