It isn't finished, how can I ever possibly be done? I feel like my site is still 'under construction' and that I could 'tweak' it forever. I want a smaller logo and different navigation layout, a background shade that is just that little bit lighter and an actual OPAC! A fellow classmate found some really cool navigation buttons and it is a few days before the site is due and I find myself wondering if I can find time to do something similar; nope.
The conversations in the student lounge have revolved around coding table and using buttons and copyright free images. The collaboration and cooperation have been fantastic; I would like to believe this is what it will be like in the workplace.
Building a Website:
My initial conceptualization of the website is not at all what the finished product looks like. The purpose of the website, if taken in a real work context, is to inform the members of the library in particular, and the community in general of what is available to them at their local public library. The library is intended to be an extension of and part of the community. I do not know if I can look too objectively right now at the website and see all that.
I continued with the home page as that was already in the works for part one. The background color was horrible, I had no clue as to how to do the actual page layout and I wanted texture. I had purchased an HTML coding book that had a tutorial CD, which contained templates and images in jpeg and gif format (what a strange language I now speak). I had been wondering how I was going to find a nicely textured background and there it was on the CD, how serendipitous! However, I did not use it after all as I could not get any gif images to upload on my pages.
When I designed the site on paper I had no plans to incorporate an OPAC. The reason being, I did not yet have the skills or knowledge to design and build such a thing. I also did not plan to build a site map or search function. This is a small site and it is not hard to find what you are looking for. However, given more time (and knowledge) I would add all of the above to the site.
The size of the site was reduced by one page. When designing the site on paper, I had planned a page called ‘Search Help’, but I realized that this was not necessary as the other pages where being developed. The site does not have an OPAC and the links I was going to include on that page have for the most part been incorporated elsewhere or deleted from the design altogether. Again, with more time, I would have liked to have developed a page dedicated to searching the Internet with links to different search engines and tips on how to use them.
Perhaps, that should be the next step?
It is interesting how usability and design features to facilitate this were always in mind as I was designing and building the site. I wanted to be sure to have a navigation bar that stayed in one place, open spaces to improve readability, and alt tags for any images. The navigation links had to illustrate to the user where they currently were in the site. Some of the coding was very easy to accomplish (deceivingly so) and some was very difficult and I had to devise other methods to achieve the same results.
In one word: TABLES! I need to play with them a lot more and figure out what I am doing or not doing right. As I was building the sub pages it became clear to me that tables are a good way to control the layout of each page. However, if you can’t manipulate the content the way you want, it is just plain frustrating. I did manage to get my logo in a table but it was too big and I could not make my table smaller because of it, which had not occurred to me while designing the logo.
Another big frustration for me in the process of learning to code HTML was not being able to figure out why something was not working. This was so, especially when the code looks exactly like examples from class or a book. I never was able to figure out why gif images would not work but jpeg’s worked fine.
I was also frustrated by not being able to figure out how to format text for HTML. I ended up using the UL (unorder list) tag to indent my text and at the last moment I discovered I could use the margin attribute but not seemingly with very much control. It had to be for the whole page; an all or nothing kind of deal. I would also like to discover how to position text without using a million ‘ ’. There must be many little ‘tricks’ of the trade that I have yet to discover (hopefully) as I carry on.
I would also have liked to build more sub-pages. I feel that the site is only partially complete. As an example, on the Reader’s Advisory page, I would have liked to link an image of the book jacket and synopsis of the book.
The amount of time I spent on the website and the lack of more time to continue doing so was also a frustration for me. I really wanted to change the outbound links to open a new page to ensure that users do not get spirited away from my site. As I write this paper I am thinking to myself that I can still do it; I can always sleep tomorrow.
Yes, there were successes along the rocky road of learning how to code HTML. The feeling of accomplishment that overtakes you as admire the finished product is huge. The fact that I can now code some basic pages is amazing to me. It is like having learned to speak a foreign language in just a few short months. I am pleased with the overall design of the website, although there is plenty that I would change/delete/revise if only there were more time. Next time I would like to put the navigation into a table and perhaps use images or icons, just because I would like to try it and know that I can design it if I wanted to. The tables I built were successful in that they worked as a way of contain text, I did not want a long page of text that one had to scroll down. However, as already stated, I still have much to learn with regard to coding tables and how to use them to best advantage.
One website does not a web designer make. I have huge steps to take and much to learn, but I am hooked. I appreciate having to learn the hand coding and the little nudges along way. I learn by doing, so this was a very valuable exercise for me.
What I have to learn now is when to stop...