How to build a homepage?

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So, you are building a homepage or other website, aren't you? What do you need to know? First you need web space. What? You have to put your pages to some server computer. Pages don't just float in the Internet - they are stored in server computers. If your Internet service provider doesn't give you any, don't worry, there are many free servers.

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General tips
  1. Don't create a page if you have nothing to say.
  2. You don't need some stuff just because everyone else's pages have it.
  3. Learn HTML.
  4. Always take backups of your pages if you use a web-based editor. Really. Do that.
  5. Make sure that your links work.
  6. Update often enough.
  7. Include your email address and time of last update on your site.
  8. Never move your pages unless necessary. Kewl URL is not a reason. If you do move, search Altavista for "link:http://yourpages.address" and notify all the people who have linked your page about the change.
  9. Don't keep too much stuff on one page.
  10. Don't require Flash, Java, JavaScript, plugins or imagemaps.
  11. Test your pages with different browsers, operating systems and resolutions.
  12. Check your spelling.
  13. Use a describing title - not something like "My homepage". Titles should never begin with the word "Welcome".
  14. Separate internal links and links to other sites.
Technical tips
  1. WYSIWYG editors such as Microsoft Frontpage can really screw up the code.
  2. Remember to close off all the tags that require it.
  3. Use ALT-texts and height and width attributes in image tags.
  4. Use META-tags.
  5. Don't target your links into a new window, it is confusing and useless. People can do it themselves if they want to.
  6. New versions of Paint Shop Pro (which is an excellent shareware image editor) show the hex value of a color in the color picker.
  7. If you use an HTML editor, make sure that the links and image URL's point to relative directories and not something like "c:\my pages\images".
  8. Remember that you have to include http:// in the beginning of URL links and mailto: in front of email links or otherwise they don't work.
  9. Always end your entities with a semicolon, because otherwise they won't work in most browsers.
Visual tips
  1. Use images in moderation.
  2. Don't write in all caps. It's harder to read.
  3. Links should be easy to distinguish. Other text should never be underlined or blue to avoid confusion. Use a different color for visited links.
  4. Textareas and fields should always be big enough.
  5. Don't have background and text with too similar colours. There are people with 16 and 256 color screens and also color-blind people.
  6. Design a (color) theme for your pages - OK, I haven't done it, but you should :-)
  7. Don't vary font sizes and faces too much.
  8. Avoid content that looks like advertising. People tend to skip those parts.
  9. Never use the blink tag! It makes people go insane. Underline, marquee or too big fonts don't look very good either.
Other tips
  1. Links should never have the words "click here".
  2. There's no need to include the current time or date on the page. People have clocks and calendars if they need them.
  3. Never link a page to itself.
  4. If you must include a Flash intro, include a way to skip it.
  5. Always use an internation format for displaying dates. 5/6 can mean either 5th June or 6th May.

My pet peeves about web pages

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Tips for creating web-savvy images
  1. Use JPEG for background textures, photos, scanned paintings etc and GIF or GIF for logos and other "clean pictures". That way you save in size and have better quality images. Never use BMP.
  2. Even if your GIFs have the same background color as your pages, make them transparent, as they might not fit the background in 256 color mode.
  3. Always antialias the texts in images if possible.
  4. GIFs have a 256 color palette by default. If the actual picture doesn't have that many colors, reducing the amount of colors saves a lot of size.
  5. JPEGs should be compressed enough, but not too much. 15-30% (compression, not quality) or 6-9 in the scale of 1-10 is usually good for photos.
  6. A good trick on how to make noisy webcam photos look a bit better: use gaussian blur or median cut.
  7. Thumbnails for picture galleries are a must.
  8. Don't have too much detail in small pictures, they're hard to figure out.
  9. Always resize JPEGs with bilinear resample and not bicubic, gives much better results.


Pages created by Maija Haavisto. Last updated: 11th February 2005