May 20, 2002-- Newsletter #181

By Joe Burns

Goodies to Go (tm)
May 20, 2002--Newsletter #181

This newsletter is part of the network.

Goodies Thoughts - Website Design - Navigation

In the last issue of Goodies to Go we talked about the challenges of the web designer. In this week's issue we'll take a look at one of the most important elements of web design, navigation. If a visitor can't find what he is looking for, he won't stay at your site long.


There are several keys to designing a site that is easily navigable. Probably the most important is not considering yourself as the norm. Simply put, most designers have a tendency to design the navigation of their sites according to what is intuitive to them. However, what is intuitive to you, the designer, may not end up being intuitive to the majority of your site's visitors. Designing for yourself and not your audience is probably the single most common mistake.


A good practice, if feasible, is to put your navigation design down on paper or in the form of a mock-up website. This will allow you to share your design with colleagues or better yet people in your target audience. For example, let's say you were designing a resource site for a national realtor's association. The people you need to get feedback from concerning your navigation plans would be a local realtor's association or maybe even the realtor's office that sold you your house.


Another important key to making a site that is easy to navigate is not building too many levels to your site. Now that's not to say you should organize your site on a single level, but keeping the number of levels a visitor has to transcend is definitely a plus. Obviously, the more content you add to a site, the more there becomes a need to add additional levels. While adding multiple tiers to your site may be inevitable, try to keep them to a minimum.


You should also always try to make your sites searchable by adding a search engine. Many web design packages like FrontPage and DreamWeaver have their own built in search engines which can make the process very easy. If you are designing a database driven site with something like ASP or PHP you will be in for a bit more work to add a search engine. You will have to either write your own engine or possibly find some shareware or free code. However you accomplish it, a search option will become an invaluable tool on your websites.


Along the same line as a search engine would be a site map. Site maps are also very useful tools for visitors who are trying to find their way to a specific location on the site. Like the site itself, the organization of your site map is also very important. Generally, a site map will include almost all of the pages (if not all) on your site and be organized in a fashion similar to the site itself.


Finally, in addition to analyzing how your site will be organized you also need to consider how you will display that organization. You actually have several different choices available to you. One of the most popular choices today is the pop-out menu. Pop-out menus such as are found on many major retail sites like Eddie Bauer and Best Buy are a very effective way to hide and organize multiple levels of your web site. Other more simple solutions could include the logical use of the hover buttons or hyperlinks in a table.


In addition to the how is the where. For the user's convenience you might want to also consider having links to the major sections of your sites on both the top and the bottom of each page.


As a web designer, it is your responsibility to make the user's experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. While most users will never really understand all of the thought and effort that you put into improving their experience, it will keep them coming back for more.


Thanks for reading!


Quiz Goodies

When displaying data from a database in ASP, there is often an issue with line breaks not displaying.


For example, let's say that you have a form that accepts comments that your visitors have on current movies. Your visitors' comments are often several paragraphs in length. When you go to display their comments from your database using Response.Write, though, the line breaks are lost and their comments display as a single paragraph.


How do you get around this issue?


Read answer below.

Q & A Goodies

Questions are taken from submissions to our Community Mentors. You can ask a Mentor a question by going to



Q. I'm making a web page and my monitor is set to 1024x768, because I use that resolution when I am working making graphics. 

The thing I am having a problem with is when I use Adobe Go Live, to lay out a web page then I upload it, people running in different resolutions see the page in a way different from how I want them to.

I don't want to have to change the resolution of the monitor, constantly switching from my preferred settings to 800x600 for html coding, so is there some way I can embed resolution settings or some kind of viewing settings so that people will view the page the way I see it and intend for it to be viewed, no matter what their resolution settings are?

For reference, here is the page in question that I am having problems with:

For me, with my monitor in its standard 1024x768 res, the page appears exactly how I want it to, with no horizontal scroll and vertical scroll merely for looks. 

Is there some code or setting I can embed or put into my html so that this page will view this way no matter what a persons resolution is?

If not, is there a way for me to redo it so that the resolution settings won't make a difference? Someone told me to render the page inside a frame/table that's 800x600 I tried to make a table but couldn't get rid of all the cells and rows.


A. The majority of people surfing the net today are viewing with a screen resolution of 800x600. (Although as history shows that it does change over time - a few years back the standard was 640x480). I would suggest you focus on targeting the majority of viewers. Although you don't have to necessarily change your resolution, just keep in mind that when creating your tables and images they should be no wider than 780 pixels wide ( I usually make my tables no larger than 760 - but that is my personal preference). 

As far as resizing your site to 800x600 that should not be a problem. I noticed your entire front page consists of images. I would suggest getting rid and replacing the center image (the copy portion.. Virage Entertainment...etc.) with text - that would certainly free up some width space (and would help with search engine positioning if you decide to submit your site to the major search engines).

P.S. You can use our own Bob Conley's JavaScript browser resize trick - I use it all the time! 

In your browser's address bar type: javascript:resizeTo(640,480)
Press your enter key and the screen will resize to 640x480
Save it to your favorite places.
Do the same with 800x600 and 1024x768 resolutions and save them to your favorite places. Now you can click on the link in your favorite place to resize your browser without having to change your settings. This way you can now view the site that you are creating in the different settings and get an idea of the site layout.


*** This question was submitted to our Mentor Community. The answer was provided by IAida, one of our Web Design Mentors.



Q. I am having a problem with the mailto tag. It is not sending the form text to my email.


I hope you might have a suggestion I have tried just about everything I can think of with no success.


A.  The version 6 browsers aren't supporting e-mail forms. We recommend using a CGI script.


*** This question was submitted to our Mentor Community. The answer was provided by Eric Ferguson, one of our HTML Mentors.


Q.  I looked all over for a way to get the client's IP address to record the visit to my page but found nothing. Is there some way to get that with HTML or CFML?


A. It's not possible in HTML to retrieve the IP address. I don't know CFML, you'll have to research that if you want to use it. However you can retrieve it using JavaScript, but I don't know where you would store it.

Look at this:


You can also retrieve IP and browser information from most server technologies such as ASP and PHP.


*** This question was submitted to our Mentor Community. The answer was provided by Alex Newport, one of our HTML Mentors.

News Goodies

Speaking of search engines, Inktomi has just released an XML-based Search toolkit.

Click here to read the article


If you have been looking for some code to quick start your PHP calendar, shopping cart or other common project this might just be the resource you are looking for. 

Click here to read the article


Lycos is getting into the commercial website business by offering hosting and other web tools and services.

Click here to read the article

Quiz Answer

The easiest way to resolve this issue is to use the Replace function to replace all of the carriage returns in each field that you are trying to print with the <BR> HTML tag.


Here is how it works:





This will take every carriage return (chr(10)) and replace them with the <BR> HTML tag which will allow your user's comments to display just as they intended them.


*You can also us vbcrlf in place of chr(10) is you are coding in vbscript or VB.

Thanks for reading Goodies to Go!


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