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Just as it's important to create a solid foundation when you begin building a house, creating a solid structure for your web page's content is important when designing web sites. The structure of your page defines what your content is and helps you define how that type of content should be presented in the browser. Before we begin structuring the content of our Groundswell site, I want to take a moment to explore some of the basic XHTML structural elements and discuss strategies for using them. Within XHTML, elements are considered to be either Block Level or Inline. Block Level Elements are considered to occupy their own line within the normal document flow. And browsers usually display them this way on their own line.
Inline level Elements usually occur within a Block Level Element and are often used to identify content within that element. Typical Block Level elements that you might frequently use include the Heading tags, h1, h2s, so forth and so on. The paragraph tags, unordered or ordered lists and a div tag that helps divide content. Common Inline Level Elements include the Strong tag, the Emphasis tag, the Anchor tag which is used for creating links and the Span tag.
Each of these tags have inferred logical meaning. The h1 tag represents the most important heading, while text surrounded by an em tag represents text that is being emphasized. But this meaning could be changed or expanded on by you as you begin to construct your pages. For this reason, it's very important to have a site wide strategy for when certain structural elements are going to be used within your site. Will every page contain just one h1 tag or is there a reason to have multiple h1s across your pages. If you're dividing the site into regions headers, and side bars and footers, does each one of these regions get their own h1? Or do they start with a lower tiered heading? In truth it doesn't matter which strategy you use, just that you use it consistently. If you always use headings one way in your main content and one way in your side bar, it's much easier for you to write style that controls them and much easier for user agents to discern their meaning. Again here consistency is key.
Now that we have explored some of the structural elements we are going to be using on our pages, our next movie will focus on using Dreamweaver to define your document structure.
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