Web Design - part 1 of 1 2

Published 01/10/2002

There is a certain mystique about web sites that leads many people to shun them. This is unfortunate as they can be a very good selling tool, especially for an industry like ours, which has a high visual content. The inner workings of a web site are so well hidden that many people will be surprised to learn that you can build a web site with nothing more than a few images and a working copy of "Notepad", the freebie typing program that comes with Windows. Indeed, when your Editor attended the Liverpool University one day course on web design we all had 4-page, working web sites by lunch time on day 1 and we never used any software other than the typing program!


Web sites are made up with Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). To see the underlying HTML to any web site you simply have the web site up on your computer (from the web) in Internet Explorer. If you click View>Source then a new window pops up in Notepad showing the raw HTML code. This consists of words, abbreviations, file names and lots of > marks. (See the captions to the screen grabs)

What Does it all Mean?

Well for starters if you type you immediately alert the computer to the fact that a web page is following in the rest of the file. Do a View Source and then save the Notepad file as a dot txt file on your Desktop. If you then rename the file (Right Click, then Rename) as a dot htm file it is then recognised by your computer as an Internet Explorer file and, when you double click it, part of the original web page will pop up as it was on the web (it may be missing a few linked files, as in our example). This is because the "links are broken" in other words the commands built into the HTML to go and get a file cannot be accomplished because the file is not available on your PC (it's on the web!)

Where does this lead?

Hopefully we have convinced you that even if you can't write web pages because you don't know the "syntax", the process is essentially quite simple. The web page is a collection of typed commands and instructions. If the typing says "src="images/buttons/photography.jpg" the computer goes off into the images folder, then to the buttons sub folder, gets the JPEG file called photography and plonks it on the page where it is told.


The Source code looks very complex, but when it is broken down it is simple. The snippet directly above tells the web page to display the picture "Pixelstorm" as a table at 150 pixels wide and vertically aligned to the top. The alt="Pixelstorm" is the alternative command for those people who have not got images turned on - they are told what it is they should be looking at.

What is a web page?

A web page is like a page in a book. When you have a single web page in front of you on your screen you can scroll up and down to see all of it.

What is a web site?

A web site is usually a collection of web pages and it also stores all the required images so that the instructions on the web pages can call then up for you to see. In a real world analogy, HTML is like the English Language, a web page is like a page in a book, a web site is like a book. An ISP or Internet Service Provider "hosts" numbers of web sites and is like your local library (in that if you call, they will let you see the books (sites)). Just like your local library they also lose books, and are not always open for business!

Help is at hand

If all this is a bit much you can avoid typing any HTML code by using a web design software package. If you want to have a go yourself you can dip into the web design pond at a number of levels as listed in the table (left). While it is straightforward to type code you cannot make mistakes or the web site will not work. Very few people can type with that accuracy and although professional programmers type raw code. They modularise their work to get round the problems associated with fault finding and error correction

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1st Published 01/10/2002
last update 07/04/2022 09:18:10

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