August 19, 2002-- Newsletter #194

By Joe Burns



Goodies to Go (tm)
August 19, 2002--Newsletter #194

This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.
http://www.internet.com
 


 
Goodies Announcement

Just in case you missed it last week, the new Beyond HTML Goodies book has just been released!

 

Go beyond the basics and learn how the pros add and use dynamic HTML features and advanced JavaScript techniques. Beyond HTML Goodies demonstrates dozens of new and different features readers can add to their existing Web pages using HTML and JavaScript. The book starts with simple text and image tips, such as adding a clock to a Web page or causing text to appear when the mouse moves over an image. It gradually builds to more complex tricks, including manipulating forms or working with cookies behind the scenes. Throughout the book, readers enjoy Joe's snappy style and "to the point" discussion of each "goody" in the book.

 

http://books.internet.com/books/0789727803

 

 

Goodies Thoughts - No Animations: Be a good Web Citizen
 

There's a nasty little trend developing on the Web, and it's time for us to nip it in the bud!  It's a road that leads to nowhere, we've been down it before and it's not confined to novices!  I'm talking about some basic usability issues that we all learned about as the web grew up, but somewhere along the way a lot of people forgot.

If you're new to Web development, thank you for being here--I know that you will read and absorb this and will never subject me to the horrors I describe!  If you're an experienced web designer/master then I know you're not the one committing these crimes-- it's the other guys!

Has it happened to you?  You look up something on a search engine, find a likely web site and click on it to take a closer look and POW!  It socks you in the face!  You are nearly blinded by a dazzling array of bright colors, flashing signs, waving hands, burning lights and then, while you are still reeling, BOOM!  Music!  Or should I say "Music"!  You frantically search for your mouse or the power button or a hammer or something to stop
the horror, you can't find it because all you can see are the spots of residual vision from that color blast.  As your vision slowly returns, you notice all your colleagues are staring at you and you can see what they're thinking.  "It's not a porn site!" you desperately plead--"It's about water buffalo.  It's for my project!  Honest!"  As you recover your senses you make a note of the site address and add it to your "avoid it like the plague--in fact, look for the plague first" list.  I know that wouldn't have been your site, but if it had you would have just lost another user!

In the off chance you were thinking of it--let me see if I can make you feel better.  I visited the web site of a well known cartoon and film company that also operates theme parks in California, Florida and France (and a national TV network).  When I clicked through a few pages I noticed a link that offered tickets for special circumstances.  Upon clicking through I was taken, not to a form as I expected, but to a flash animation complete with music--highly recognizable entertainment music!  I scoured  rapidly over the page for the "Skip Intro" button, which was mercifully there.  "Going on vacation?" asked the guy two cubicles down.  "Working on a water buffalo project" I meekly replied.

Here's the rule:
Keep it simple!

Billboards on the side of the road have to attract your attention and then deliver a message.  By the time they get to your website, you've already got their attention!  Your job is simply to deliver the information as simply and quickly as you can.  I know you have great Flash skills--go ahead and develop a nice Flash intro, then put a couple of hyperlinks on your home page, one that perhaps says "About us" and another that says "About us (Flash Version)."  When I see that I will get a warm and fuzzy
feeling in my belly, knowing how much you care about my
sensibilities!  (I'll probably take a look at that Flash animation when I get home and can prepare for it!).

The best pages use small elegant graphics against a most unobtrusive background (white, for example!) and present the information so that it's easy to find. Additionally, don't overload the eyes either with color or too much stuff in too small a space.  White space rules!  I know you are trying your best to create user friendly pages, and you would like some recommendations.  Here's a couple: go to WDVL (http://www.wdvl.com/ ) or
Web Reference (http://www.webreference.com/ ) and do a search on "usability."  Get the advice of those who have studied the subject extensively.


Thanks for reading! I know we can all rely on you!
 

Q & A Goodies

Questions are taken from submissions to our Community Mentors. You can ask a Mentor a question by going to http://www.htmlgoodies.com/mentors/.

 

 

Q. I want to have a text box and a "go to" button that the user can insert a webpage and click the button.  I need to have the webpage show up in a specific frame.

A. You might find a script doing this at http://www.javascriptsource.com.
What you're trying to do is use the form to turn the URL in the box into the value of a variable, and the JavaScript opens a new window in which the URL is the variable. If you know some JavaScript you may be able to work this out yourself.


Q. I have a web site already up and would like to add music to it.

A. This tutorial might help:
http://htmlgoodies.earthweb.com/tutors/dynamic5.html


Q. I'm looking for a way to display single characters on a 90degree angle (i.e. on their side, facing vertically). I don't know if this can be done with HTML or JavaScript, or whatever. I don't want it to be an event, simply displayed on their side from load time.

A. There might be a way to do it with a stylesheet, but the only way to make it work in all browsers is to make a graphic.


Q.  I have a website with a navigation bar which is on the left side of my page that contains all the links to my pages like Home, Contact Us, About us, etc. Everytime I add a new page to my website, I have to update all of the pages one by one for the navigation bar. Is there anyway to just update one file so that it updates every page I have for the navigation bar?

A. Yes, make your navigation a server side include.
http://htmlgoodies.earthweb.com/beyond/ssi.html




Thanks for reading Goodies to Go!

 

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