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It is possible to assemble a simple and functional web page quickly and easily. We believe that useful public health information can be disseminated in a quick and timely manner using the World Wide Web, and that it is easy to do so. In our opinion, not only is it not necessary to use sophisticated programming or graphic arts techinques for this purpose, such methods incur a needless expense: public health needs solid facts, not little dancing helicopters.
The Composer function in Netscape Navigator is extremely useful in producing web pages. The Amaya test browser from the Web Consortium has similar capabilities.
Netscape Composer can be accessed from Navigator
ALT-3 (at least
for Netscape v.4). When you call it up, the Formatting Toolbar appears
just above the user space (where your web page is going to appear as you
develop it). It is more or less self-explanatory, but can be somewhat
quirky in places. A bit of experimentation is all that is needed. The only
thing that may need explanation is that the target refers to a
hyperlink within the same page (the same HTML file).
After creating your
page, you may use the publish function or else save your file to
your local machine to upload later to your web server.
Using Netscape Composer or Amaya allows you to produce your own perfectly functional web pages, without learning any programming languages or HTML, without needing to purchase proprietary software, and without being a professional graphic designer or web designer.
It is also possible to export HTML from Microsoft Word documents which can then be published on the web.
Those who have Adobe Acrobat (not just the reader) can easily produce PDF documents to be placed on the web as well.
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is in a sense the native language of the Web. It is easy and interesting to learn the basics of HTML, and while it is not necessary to learn it, a little HTML can go a long way.
There are many HTML tutorials on the web. Donald St. John's tutorial is useful; a search at www.cnet.com or any search engine will reveal others.
Some questions about how to specify colors are answered here.
Many people advocate pages with complex or stylish graphic design. If you wish to design such pages, proprietary web design software (and graphic design expertise) will probably be needed. Examples of such programs are Adobe PageMill, SoftQuad's HotMetalPro, Microsoft Front Page, or MacroMedia's DreamWeaver. A web search will reveal much information about these and related matters, which go far beyond the scope of this humble site.
However, just as textbooks and journals do not use the same graphic design techniques as a magazine such as Time (or even Scientific American, to say nothing of WiReD!), it is possible that a more spartan and functional design (such as we have chosen for this site) is entirely appropriate for many academic, informational, or professional sites. However, the challenge of constructing a coherent, navigable, and informative site (content is king) remains.
Useful information on web design is available on many web sites, produced
by professional designers. Here are some links.
Here are some books that might be useful or interesting.