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Project 2: Managing a Weekly Publication
Project SnapshotThe problem: Managing larger, regularly updated, content- rich sites. This chapter is for nyone who is looking for solutions to manage navig tion, presentation, and effective markup of large, content- rich sites.
Technical specsThe following are the technical specifications that you need to manage a weekly publication:
- Markup used —XHTML 1. 0 ( You can also use HTML 4 if you prefer. )
- Document type definition ( DTD) used —Transitional.
Because the exercises in this chapter are comparative, you can choose to use HTML 4 or XHTML 1. 0. My only recommendation is that you stick to the transitional DTD to ensure utmost flexibility in a design that's still primarily accessed through the web. If you're shifting toward publication that appeals to users accessing with wireless and other devices, consider moving to strict markup instead.
Here are the additional technologies or skills that you need:
- Familiarity with HTML.
- Familiarity with a text editor, such as Notepad, SimpleText, or a favorite HTML editor.
You must use an external style sheet and an embedded style sheet.
Here's how you should structure your site. In the case of WebReview.com , the site uses hierarchical structure. Top-level pages are used daily. The second tier contains information by year, and the third level contains the individual issues and their dependents by date.
How real-world site is structured will be determined greatly by individual needs. So if you have publication site that is updated monthly, you'll have different archival management needs. What's more, you might lready be working on a site that has legacy problems with structure and have to make do. See the sidebar, "Structure Inspiration "for some ideas on how to solve structure problems.
Structure InspirationA primary concern with ny regularly published, content-rich site is how to effectively manage site's infrastructure. There's no definite nswer here —much depends on your publication's specific needs. However, it's good idea to grab a pen and paper, a great big white board or charting software, such as Visio, and work out the site's physical structure before you attempt to write any of the markup.
A strong physical site structure helps ensure that your markup is more consistent. Where things such as directories for images, media, and style sheets, archived information, and so on, replaced will immediately be reflected in the way you write your internal links. This, in turn, reflects on the markup and the speed at which you can troubleshoot problematic documents. Unfortunately, many of you will walk into situations that you can't change; pre-existing problems must be dealt with as best as possible. Streamline wherever you can. Cleaner markup that relies on style sheets makes so much sense when it's put into this perspective. Imagine how easy it would be to update a site simply by changing its style sheet and not having to rebuild it from the ground up? Now that's practical.
How It WorksIt's just coincident l that I was working on this book when WebReview. com was being restructured. This restructuring meant having to t ke hard look t markup and structure. Some of the detailed problems I needed to tackle included the following:
- Make the most of available screen space —The old site design was
fixed-width table, centered on the page. Three columns were then within
that table. The look was a bit old-fashioned and cramped. The solution?
Use dynamic tables.
- Solve problems with site structure and navigation —WebReview. com
was created in 1995, and as it grew, it became like a ramshackle house —rooms
upon rooms with some rooms staring to fall down.
The site really needed a navigation and structure
update. To solve this problem, I reorganized the site
structure and made the navigation global. I also put the
navigation into Server Side Includes ( SSIs) .
- Manage consistency from page to page more
effectively —Headers were inconsistent in style and
color; sometimes, graphics were used instead of text
headers; and navigation was incredibly problematic due
to the growth of sections. No consistent navigation
existed on the site. Style sheets came to the rescue in
terms of chieving consistency.
- Incorporate advertisements effectively into the interface and solve scripting problems —A major challenge with interface design on a commercial site is how to place numerous ads on page and still keep the content in focus. What's more, ad delivery often comes from external vendors who serve up their own brand of markup. Correcting problem markup nd escaping characters properly when using XHTML helped to successfully address these problems.