Russil Wvong / Personal / Design notes

Design notes for this web page


Requirements

Objectives

This web page has two major objectives: First and most importantly, to provide a way for friends and family in Edmonton, Singapore, and other parts of the world to find out what I'm up to. A surprisingly large number of my friends and family have Internet access. When I was living in Colorado Springs, for example, I could take pictures and put them on the web so that people could see what Colorado Springs looks like.

Now that I'm back in Vancouver, that isn't so important. On the other hand, Curt and Judy are both in California....

A secondary objective is to provide interesting and useful information for the Internet at large. I'm thinking that most people in this category would be casual readers who find their way here at random, through a search engine.

Content

I'm aiming for three types of content:

Other requirements

These pages should be easy to read and to navigate, with a consistent layout.

They should be visually interesting, which means using photos.

They shouldn't be painful to download.

They shouldn't take a long time to set up and maintain. I'll have a limited amount of time to spend on this, probably a few hours a week.

Pages should not move around. In particular, if someone bookmarks an HTML page, it should not break.


Design notes

Web server

These pages are hosted by GeoCities, at www.geocities.com. I chose GeoCities for a number of reasons:

With a free service, reliability is a potential problem. I had a free web page briefly back in 1995; the company went broke after a few months and my web page disappeared. It's possible that this could happen to GeoCities as well, but with their size, visibility, and customer base, they've got a good shot at survival. According to their press releases, they were ranked the third most visited site on the web among home users as of June 1998, and they received $25 million in venture capital funding in January 1998.

Disk space used to be a problem -- you can fill up 2 Mbytes surprisingly fast if you're putting images on your web pages -- but not any more.

Layout

Use a straightforward, easy-to-read style with black text on a white background, and standard hyperlink colors.

Use pictures on each page for visual interest, either scanned from 4x6 photos or captured from Video CDs. To keep the pictures from causing the download to grind to a crawl, put a small version of each image on the page, and link it to the full-size version. See Philip Greenspun's web site for examples.

Where possible, use 768x512 for scanned photos, 192x128 for the small versions. Use 24-bit color.

Use the HEIGHT and WIDTH tags to allow the web browser to lay out each page before the images are loaded.

Don't try to compete with professional graphic designers using Adobe PhotoShop and font designers.

Use a consistent layout for each page, with the following elements:

Hypertext structure

To make the web pages easy to navigate, use a simple structure: a top-level index page which points to all other pages.

If the number of pages grows very large, then second-level index pages may be necessary.

Tools


Effort estimates

It took roughly 12 hours (over two days) to set up the first version of the page, writing some basic material about myself and importing an article that I'd written earlier (about public debt), capturing some images from the Video CD of "A Chinese Ghost Story", and getting the GeoCities account set up.

Scanning in pictures takes a couple hours, plus another couple hours for editing them and adding text.

For a page which is primarily text, it probably takes two or three hours to do formatting, editing, and revisions, plus whatever time it takes to write the text in the first place.


References

Philip Greenspun's personal web site has an amazing amount of entertaining and informative content -- writing, humor, travel, photography, state-of-the-art computer programming, web design. It's an industrial-strength site. Frankly, I'm awestruck. It's not enough to keep me from imitating his layout, though.

For examples of spectacular graphic design, see the collection of personal web pages at this time it's PERSONAL, run by Tabatha Holtz.

For a really basic introduction to creating web pages, see Eric Meyer's Introduction to HTML.


Update (March 2001)

GeoCities is now owned by Yahoo!, one of the few profitable Internet companies.

For greater readability, I've changed my e-mail address to russilwvong@yahoo.com, and I've also set up an e-mail address for Abby, abigailfitch@yahoo.com. The rwvong@geocities.com address still works, of course. All three addresses are forwarded to our local ISP mailbox.

The URL that I give out now is www.geocities.com/rwvong (with no tilde -- it's easier than explaining what a tilde is), although www.geocities.com/~rwvong and www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/2496 will also work.


Created: 1997/04/28
$Date: 2001/07/12 07:22:00 $ 1