I'll have to admit right from the start, that I
have been guilty in the past of just jumping on the computer, diving
in and creating web pages ad hoc, linking various pages together
with no real structure, and eventually dumping the lot, because
it was getting too much like hard work. However most of this was
done when I was learning to create web pages, these were not real
sites, they were only stored on my hard drive and nobody else had
access to them.
Later on, when I started teaching students how to create web pages
(as opposed to web sites), I worked in a similar manner. I would
just put a few pages together to illustrate a point, upload the
pages to a free webhost and let the students know where to find
them. These pages would then be deleted after the course was completed,
and I would repeat the process for the next group of students. This
worked OK, but a couple of things happened to make me rethink the
Firstly, some of my past students started asking where the pages
had gone. It seems that even though they had completed my class,
some of them had decided to create web pages for assessment pieces
in other subjects, instead of written reports. Some of them had
decided that they were going to make their career in web site creation,
and some were just trying to find the links to other sites, that
I had included on my pages.
Also about this time, I was starting to realise the potential of
using the web as a teaching aid for other subjects that I deliver.
I was becoming concerned about the forests of trees that I was consuming
in handout material for my students. Years ago, we were all being
told about this paperless office situation that was going to take
place. Well that never happened, but I am pleased to say that I
have almost reached the state of a paperless classroom. Everything
that used to be given out on paper is now on my web site. In the
first class, I give the students my web address, and show them where
to find the study guides for the module they are enrolled in, instead
of giving paper handouts, I point out where the information is on
This has had a some major benefits, for a start, I don't have to
keep recreating the web pages over and over, it avoids that sinking
feeling that you get when you've just had two hundred handouts delivered
from the copy shop and you give out the first batch to the students,
who gleefully point out a mistake. It also avoids the old excuse
of "Please sir, I lost the handout so I couldn't do the assignment",
though that sometimes gets changed to "Please sir, my ISP was
down so I couldn't do the assignment"
The biggest advantage to me is that now, instead of struggling
to the classroom loaded up with handouts, overhead transparencies
and all the other bits of paper and books, I now walk to class carrying
the class role (I'm working on the powers that be to have the rolls
stored on the network and filled out online)
Any disadvantages?, well if you want to see a teacher have a full
blown panic attack, just tell him that the Internet connection/Network
is down, just before a class is due to start.
So I planned it all out first, right?
Hey, I'm a teacher, so it's do as I say, not do
as I do. No, I didn't have rough draughts and plans on paper. I
sat down at the computer, fired up Dreamweaver and started to make
the web site.
However, a couple of points need to be made to justify my actions.
I had been planning the thing in my head for about 6 weeks
before I started.
I was working alone, so I didn't have to make my work fit
in with other people's work.
I was the client, so I didn't have to get client approval
and sign off's at various stages of the process.
I had created a lot of web pages beforehand, so I did have
I had a six week break to work on the site.
If it didn't work for some reason, I wouldn't have to use
Do you need to plan?
It will all depend upon what the site is about,
who will be working on it, and who it is for. If any of the following
are true, then really you do need to have some designs on paper
before you start.
More than one person will be working on building and maintaining
You are building a site for a client.
You are hoping for other sites to link to yours.
You are going to submit your site to the search engines.
You have very little experience at building web sites.
There could be others that I haven't thought of but remember -
If in doubt, plan it out
And that's about it for web design. I hope that these
pages on web design have given you some useful tips, or at least provide
food for thought. Good luck with your web site design.
More advanced reading
These pages are aimed at the newcomer
to web design, if you need more advanced information then check
out these web sites.