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It’s easy to create a web page. Some word processors allow you to convert whatever you write into HTML (the language used to create web pages) at the touch of a button. Here are a few tips on what to do next.

Design

Once you have something that you want to put on the Internet, you have to present it in a particular way. Just as books and magazines vary in their layout, so can web pages. Remember, people like a lot of “white space”. Don’t clutter up the page. Look at a magazine that deals with the same topic. See how they break the page up using columns and pictures as well as adequate white space to enliven the subject matter. Then try to do the same with your page. Even a basic page can use columns and photos to deliver a message.

Background is also important. Is your topic conservative or zany? Try to select a background image that reflects this. Use small images to reinforce the message. If it is a more modern theme, select animated images from some of the hundreds of sites or CD’s that provide them. Whatever colour scheme you pick, make sure the text is readable.

When you create a page, check what size it is. If you use large photos or include video clips, it is likely to take a long time to download. Don’t assume that everybody has a cable modem. Most people are still operating between 28.8 Kbps and 56 Kbps. If your page is 15 kilobytes in size, it will take about 7 seconds to download. If it is 150 kilobytes, it may take up to a minute. Very few people will wait for a minute while a page downloads. If you have a lot of pictures, find a way of putting them in “thumbnail” form. This makes them a lot smaller. If the person wants to see the larger version, they can click on the picture and wait for the larger one to download.

Links

If you have any more than one page, you will require hyperlinks. Make sure each of your links does what it is supposed to – link to something. If you link to other sites, check the links regularly, to make sure that they are still valid. Organisations may change their site or their provider, and the link may be bad without you realising it.

Try keeping your links in an appropriate spot. Many companies put them at the top of the page. A more modern way of doing it is to use frames or style sheets. That way the links stay visible, but clicking on the relevant link changes the main form. It’s also useful to have links within the main text. If you refer to a topic and you have another page with more detail on that topic, create a link from the reference to the relevant page. The web is just that – a web of pages linked by references, and users appreciate the opportunity to jump from one sub-topic to another without too much searching.

Maintenance

If you own a shop, chances are you change the shop-front regularly. Clothes' shops change their front window every few weeks to attract customers. A good website requires the same kind of care. If you don’t maintain it, your “shop-front” will look stale and people will pass it by.

At the most basic level, you need to ensure that the information you provide is up to date. If you use dates a lot, you will need to check them regularly. Links also have to be checked regularly. Never assume your site is okay. Even if the information ages well, you might have a simple “last updated” icon which includes the date the page was last updated. If this is more than a few weeks old, it portrays a poor image. It’s probably better not to have one at all (even though they are very popular) unless you are serious about maintaining your site.

Text can be boring. People browsing the Internet have a choice of text, graphics, audio and video options to keep their attention. Try to keep your material fresh. Get new images to display, provide an option to link to a video clip if this is suitable (but warn them about the download time!). You might also consider putting (and updating regularly) a joke or a suitable quotation in some part of your front page. This simple idea will help to keep people interested.

Finally, make sure that you can be found. Get yourself registered with the major search engines, and check it by searching for your site regularly. There’s not much point in being on the web if nobody can find you. Let them know you’re there!