General Issues

Browsers

Not everyone uses the same browser. This presents a challenge to the designer. Moreover, the technology is progressing at such an astonishing rate that a six-month-old browser may not support the latest features. To make matters worse, different browsers process errors and unsupported tags in different ways. Some browsers format the information in a strange way (this is the case with some browsers that do not support tables, for example), some ignore the information, and others give error messages.

Different Platforms

We not only find a wide variety of browsers available, but the audience would almost surely be using different platforms to view and interact with the work. This presents a problem because of varying monitor resolution, monitor brightness levels, available screen fonts, as well as varying support for audio, movie file formats, and VRML. I have been surprised on a number of occasions while browsing my WWW pages on other platforms.

Bandwidth

As the WWW becomes more popular, we find more people accessing the Internet via modem. Since modem file transfer speeds are currently inferior to ethernet connections, the time required to download a WWW page varies widely. Many people use PPP or SLIP and a modem to access the WWW and often do not load inline graphics because of the time required to do so. Other large files such as full-page JPEGs, video, audio, Shockwave, and VRML are often avoided by the casual modem user. There are a number of WWW sites that utilize server pushes or animated GIFS that keep the connection active continuously (or until the cycle has been completed). This is often annoying to the modem user.

Testing in Various Environments

Since there are a large number of different WWW environments, a prototype pages should be tested in as many different environments as possible. Here are some suggestions to help avoid embarrassment when loading pages on another machine:

Load all of your pages without auto loading of graphics
Use Lynx or some other text-mode browser to view your pages
Test your site on as many different machines as possible
Ask others to evaluate your site
Stretch the window of your browser to its maximum size
Use as many different browsers as possible to test your pages
Load your pages over a dial-up connection with both a 14.4 modem and a 28.8 modem
Access your pages using Ethernet
Copyright Issues

There is a perception that all graphics and text on the Internet is copyright free. This is absolutely not true. Many of the laws that apply to paper publication also apply to WWW publishing. Since current copyright law predates the Internet, it is difficult to apply the same terminology to the WWW. In the past few years, the courts have begun to look at copyright and the Internet very closely. It is best to use caution when using someone elseís material. Following are a few tips to remember when accessing other peopleís work:

Itís not always public domain because itís found on the Internet Credit your sources and ask permission Itís not legal just because you are not profiting from it Itís not okay because you belong to an educational institution

Keeping Information Up to Date

It is important to realize that creating a WWW site is the fun part while main-taining it can be a dreaded chore. This is especially true of time dated material such as a calendar of events. It is very important to include a "last updated" stamp on your pages. It has also become standard to include the name of the person who created the site (or the contact person) next to the "last updated" stamp.

This information must be updated often, so do yourself a favor and donít make a beautiful graphic with the date stamped on it.

Comments

It is impossible to anticipate how people will react to your WWW pages. Some people will want to suggest changes in design, some will "flame" you for the content, and others will simply want to say "hi". Use a WWW form or a "Mailto:" tag to allow the viewers to communicate with you. Be careful where this information is placed on the page. It is common practice to place it at the bottom of the page but be aware that people will respond to any email address on the page. For instance, on the main page of my WWW site, I gave credit to the person who created the flying logo at the top of the page. A number of people sent this individual comments related to the site, disregarding the italic or bold tag provided at the bottom of the page.

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