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Chapter 1. Conceptualizing Your Site > Deciding What Types of Pages You Need

Deciding What Types of Pages You Need

The types of pages are static Web pages (plain HTML pages) and dynamic Web pages (pages that can react to site visitors; more on that in a bit). Different situations require these different types of pages. Either type of page can include multimedia elements. When determining what types of pages you need, consider the following:

  • The amount of information you have and how you want to organize it: Some sites have only a few pages with some pictures and a little text. Other sites have massive amounts of information that needs a database (or more than one database) to manage it all. Most sites fall somewhere in between.

  • How you want visitors to use your information: Do you want them to passively read, or would you like them to interact with the content? Do you want them to be able to download anything?

  • Users' expectations: To get an idea of what users want from your site, look at similar sites to get an idea of what sorts of features and functionality they have in common. Visitors to your site will most likely have an idea of what is typical and expect that your site have similar features. For instance, if you build a site that sells children's stories, the target audience will probably expect some downloadable coloring pages and other free fun things for kids. If your site doesn't have those types of features, your audience might abandon your site for one that does.

  • Layout considerations: Some sites have a unique home page layout and then two or three subordinate page designs. Other sites have a consistent layout for every page. Which method you choose depends on the needs of your site. Having a unique home page layout helps unify a site that has several sections that have different needs. For instance, for sections of your site that primarily display text, you need a layout that works for that type of information. The same site can include a catalog section for products. The layout for that section is different because you must display the products. The home page for a site like that works as a jumping off point that unifies the two areas of the site. The home page also is a good place to highlight information or drive traffic to a specific feature of your site. A unique home page layout can effectively support that functionality.

    Other page layout considerations are whether the site will have charts and graphs or tables, which need to be delivered as graphics or multimedia elements. In some situations, the best way to handle this type of information is to embed the chart/graph directly into the HTML document. This works best if you can display it effectively along with any supporting text on the monitor without having to scroll — even on monitors with lower resolutions (800 x 600, for instance). If you need the chart or graph to be larger, you can have it launch in a second browser window. That way, it can use more space while keeping the supporting text information easily available.

  • Multimedia considerations: How do you want multimedia elements to display? The considerations are the same for charts and graphs. Look at the content and decide whether it will work best embedded in the page or displayed in a second browser window. The second window can be smaller, which allows visitors to see and use the original page. Figure 1-1 shows a Flash element launched in a smaller browser window.

    Figure 1-1: Using a smaller, second browser window can help visitors access your information.


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