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During the past 10 years, the Internet has evolved from black text on gray backgrounds written by college professors into living color multimedia designed by everyone from the youngest animé fan to the secretary of the senior gardening club. Billions of pages are added to the Web every day, covering every topic imaginable, weaving a rich tapestry of knowledge and culture previously unimagined. Now it's time to add your thread to the loom.

Deciding to add your voice to the Web can be intimidating. As the Web has evolved from that gray screen and black text, the demands placed upon the site developer have similarly evolved. Web design is now about integrating content with layout to give visual punch to your message—making the site developer assume the role of graphic artist. More recently, Web sites have also reached through the monitor to grab the user and make them an integral part of the Web experience. Message boards, Web logs (blogs), and guest books have given birth to thriving communities—and have forced developers to assume the role of customer-service manager. This dynamic content, including databases, has also turned the Web developer into a programmer as the scripting languages required to invoke such connectivity become more complex.

Of course, not everyone is a graphic artist/customer-service manager/programmer. Fortunately, FrontPage 2003 doesn't expect you to assume such a long-winded job title. Instead, FrontPage takes on these various personae for you, freeing you to return to your primary role: creating the content that forms the meat of your site. FrontPage offers templates and themes to provide the layout and graphics for your site. Some of these templates include dynamic content to enable you to solicit feedback from and communication between your site's visitors. And advanced content such as database connectivity and dynamically updated stock tickers are inserted with wizards and Web components that don't require you to program a single line of code.

Perhaps one of the best features of FrontPage, however, is that it doesn't presume to take on jobs you'd prefer to carry out yourself. If you're the creative type, you can design your own templates, themes, or individual pages. Programmers can write their own scripts. You can even use FrontPage simply as a code editor, writing the HTML yourself. You can have it all, or you can use very little—FrontPage leaves it up to you.

That said, a program as complex as FrontPage certainly has its quirks and its own ways of doing things. That's where this book comes in. Absolute Beginner's Guide to FrontPage 2003 explains everything you need to get started as a Web designer, from creating your first page to publishing and maintaining a complete site. While you may start as a beginner, you'll find that you're soon delving into those extra roles—and this book will help you take the first steps into those areas, as well.

How This Book Is Organized

This book is organized into five parts, as follows:

  • Part I, “Getting Started,” familiarizes you with the FrontPage environment and helps you create sites and pages.

  • Part II, “Designing Webs and Pages,” takes you step-by-step through adding content to your pages—text, links, and graphics. You'll also learn how to use tables and frames to control layout, giving you more flexibility with regards to where your content falls on the page.

  • Part III, “Designing Dynamically and Interactively,” helps you design a logical navigation structure to help your visitors move throughout your site. You'll also learn how to use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) to hold all the formatting for your text and layout, enabling you to give your site a whole new look simply by modifying one file. Finally, this section will teach you how to add dynamic and interactive elements such as forms, layers, databases, and other components to bring your site to life.

  • Part IV, “Publishing Your Web,” talks you through testing your finished site and publishing it on the Web. If you don't already have a Web host to store and serve your pages on the Internet, this section will help you determine your needs and find the right provider, then show you how to upload your files to that provider. Of course, no site is ever truly finished, and so you'll learn how to check up on your site's health and maintain it. In addition, because your site simply joins the billions of others on the Web, it's important to promote it; in this part, you'll learn how to put your best foot forward with search engines and how to market your site.

  • Part V, “Coding Your Web,” lifts the hood to show you the HTML code underneath your designs. If you're looking to dig directly into the development of your site—getting you the greatest level of control and the most responsibility—you'll get an overview of HTML, style sheets, and scripting and learn how to use FrontPage's HTML coding tools.

By the time you finish reading this book, you should know the basics of designing, developing, and publishing your site. You'll also know how to add the bells and whistles that can help your site stand out from the rest of the pack. Although this book doesn't purport to explain every feature and advanced tool, it will certainly set you on the right path to solid Web design with FrontPage.

Conventions Used in This Book

There's nothing worse than losing track of the message of a book because it's difficult to follow. The layout of this book is fairly straightforward, although there are a few conventions of which you should be aware. There are sidebars in many chapters that provide information about Web design in general, not necessarily specific to FrontPage. We hope you find these design insights to be helpful.

This book also contains information of special importance related to a topic at hand. These elements are formatted as follows:


A tip is a bit of advice or insight into how to use a particular feature more efficiently or in an undocumented manner.

A note provides information that explains or warns of unexpected results or adds necessary context to a seemingly odd requirement.


A caution warns of dire results should you take a particular action, such as deleting an element from a page.

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