A guide to web design


This is the question that led to this book:

Can html be styled well enough and simply enough so that anyone can write for the web, using just a text editor, and share that work with anyone else, regardless of the platform they are using, the speed of their connection and any disabilities they may have?

The answer is yes.

I also believe that those of us who are focused on teaching and learning, rather than branding and sales, need to make everything as simple and small as we can, so we donʼt burden the user who has limited bandwidth and a slow connection.

In that way, we make the web more accessible and easier to use for everyone.

It starts with the basics: what needs to be included in your markup so your work will scale to all devices – from phones to being projected on to a screen – and be available to the disabled: physically, intellectually and emotionally.

To do that, some simple rules need to be followed like using correct tags in html5 and in css3.

Working in this way also saves time and labor, and, since it does not ask for the skills required to do complex scripting or media rich web sites, it puts doing web work within everyone’s reach.

First, it is necessary to look closely at what information you want to present and ask will it be available to those whose connection to the internet is 3 Mbps or less? Do your files exceed 100k? If so, why? Could the information be presented just as well in a format that downloads quickly? In that way you will keep the users attention and on your site; most leave a site if it takes more than 5 seconds to load.

The best format is usually text, since it takes the least space – for instance, if the a photograph is 40k in size, that equals about 3000 words of text, or a dozen typewritten pages. (1 sec of video is about 4Mb, over 4000k or 1200 typewritten pages) – and text is also simple and easy to enter, to correct and to update.

Text is, as well, the easiest medium to translate into an accessible form for the disabled.

Since most of the information on the web is in text, making it easy to read is central to this book, that includes the choice words, the length of sentences and paragraphs, of fonts and their size, and length of the lines of text and the spaces between them.

Writing your web pages can be done with text editor, like TextEdit on a Mac or NotePad on a PC. There are also free html editors; TextWrangler and Komondo are two excellent ones.