BOOT CAMP ARCHIVE 2001

  

 

BOOT CAMP 172 (26/04//01)

 

GETTING ON THE WEB – part 2

 

If you followed last week's Boot Camp you should now be the proud owner of a basic but fully functional Internet web site. This week we'll round off this very short introduction to getting onto the Internet by looking at some ways to liven up your web page with backgrounds, buttons and Hyperlinks, and how to get your site noticed and accessible to the millions of Internet users around the world.

 

For the sake of consistency and to keep things as simple as possible we'll stick with MS Word (versions 97 and 2000) to design and create our web page. However, whilst this is something Word does reasonably well, purpose-designed DTP and web authoring programs, such as Serif PagePlus Publishing Studio, MS Publisher and Home Publishing Suite, SoftQuad Hot Metal, Adobe PageMill and so on, are well worth the investment if this is something you are likely to become interested in, or get involved with commercially. These programs provide many more web page and site templates to work from, they usually come with vast clip-art libraries and have many more advanced features that make it easier to design a really professional-looking web site.

 

To recap, to create a web page in Word click on New on the File menu, select the Web Pages tab and start the Web Page Wizard and you'll end up with a basic template, that you can modify like a Word document, replacing default text and adding your own words and pictures. The Word templates tend to be rather plain so the first thing you can do is add some background colour or texture. Go to Background on the Format menu and select one of the standard colours or better still, click on the More Colours or choose something interesting like 'Marble' or 'Tissue Paper' from the Fill Effects menu. A word of caution, darker backgrounds can make text harder to read, lighter colours and textures work best, and try not to mix red, blue and green text and graphics, it looks horrible and it may be unreadable to those suffering from colour blindness.

 

Don't forget you are not obliged to use the default layouts and fonts; almost everything can be changed or moved. Word also includes a small selection of graphic elements, including check boxes, drop-down menus, list boxes, forms and a scrolling text effect. In Word 97 they can all be found under Forms on the Insert menu, in Word 2000 right-click on to an empty area of the toolbar and select Web tools. Don't forget to include your email address on the page, and if you want to gauge reaction and assess the number of visitors you might also want to include a counter and a 'guest book' for comments. Note that web page elements like these are not included in Word but they can be downloaded from many sites on the Internet. Get into the habit of saving your work regularly and check the effect of any changes you make, before you upload your page, by using the Web Page Preview option on the File menu.

 

The most useful web page component is undoubtedly the hyperlink, a highlighted and underlined word (or words), button or graphic that takes the reader to another location on the same page, another page on the same web site, or another page or site on the Internet. Hyperlinks come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and the Web Page Wizard templates in Word 2000 makes it very easy for you as it automatically creates an opening page with ready-made links to other parts of the document and two or more related blank pages. All you have to do to customise them is right-click on the link and select Edit Hyperlink from the drop-down menu that appears. The dialogue box that opens lets you change the name and the place in the document it is linked to, or you can direct it to a web page address or email address.

 

Word 97 is a bit more hands-on and you have to manually create your own Hyperlinks by highlighting text or a graphic then right-click on it and select Hyperlink from the menu. This opens a dialogue box that lets you specify an Internet address, a place on the document or another document.

 

Hyperlinks can be tricky customers and you have to be careful that they actually do what they are supposed to before you publish your web page or site. If you are going to be using more than half a dozen, say, it's a good idea to draw up a 'map' or flow chart of your web page or site on a sheet of paper, indicating where each link leads, marking the correct location or address. Once again test everything first using the Preview function.

 

Let us now assume that your page or site is up and running, you've uploaded it into the free allocation of web space allocated to you by your Internet Service Provider. If you want others to visit your site you should make it as easy as possible by registering a memorable domain name, and making use of the redirection service (see Boot Camps 169 and 170). Now, all you have to do is publicise and promote your site.

 

There are plenty of companies who can do it all for you, for a fee, but if you want to do it yourself, the basics are these. Register your site address or URL with as many Internet Search Engines as possible, you'll usually find a link to the URL submission form on the home page. If you have the opportunity to select keywords make sure they are succinct and focused. Seek out web sites, indexes and directories that have something similar to offer, or would find the material on your site useful and offer to exchange links. Email your details to the listings editors of relevant on-line magazines, publications and newspapers.

 

Needless to say this is not an exact science and impossible to deal with fully in such a small space as this. Indeed there's a score or more thick books and dozens of web sites and magazines devoted to the subject and there's a very useful set of articles on the .net magazine web site at: http://www.netmag.co.uk/webbuilder.asp?ch=WB001 

 

Next week – tracing your ancestry

 

JARGON FILTER

 

COUNTER

Web page component that logs the number of visitors to your site

 

DTP

Desktop publishing -- makeup and layout programs used to design pages in printed documents, magazines, newspapers, books and Internet web sites

 

URL

Uniform Resource Locator – a standard Internet address

 

 

TOP TIP

Of course you will always keep your web page up to date but not everyone is as diligent as you, and sometimes you may come across a web site, and wonder just how up to date the information actually is. There's an easy way to find out when a web page was last modified. Whilst you are on line, with the page in question displayed in your browser window (recent versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape or any other 'Javascript enabled' browser), enter the following Javascript command in the address line: javascript:alert(document.lastModified),

press Enter and the time and date of the last update will be shown.  In case you were wondering Javascript is a programming language embedded in Internet web pages, that instructs the browser on your PC to carry out a range of actions or respond to things like mouse-clicks or text entry.

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