Join Paul Trani for an in-depth discussion in this video Designing the web site, part of Creating a First Web Site with Dreamweaver CS4.
Before you start creating anything in Dreamweaver, it's really helpful to have a clear idea of the design and structure of your site. Really, any design decision should be made in light of your business and audience goals. So I'm going to keep that in mind as I design. My goal is to talk about and display content about Jane Doe as a travel writer and photographer. So I'm going to take right information and I'm going to be able to develop a site map from that information. So here I'm going to have a Home page, an About page, a Portfolio page and a Contact page.
The Portfolio page as you can see is going to have photos of different places, so that's pretty good. The Home page is going to link out to an external site. So when I'm designing a website, I'm going to need the content first and foremost and this is the content that I'm going to work from. The next step is to determine the navigation. So how would all these pages or all this content link together, how is it associated together and that's going to help me come up with the navigation. But I want to make sure it's easy to learn, make sure it's really consistent across all the pages.
I want to clearly differentiate hyperlinks or buttons from the content itself. So if there is a body copy and I have a link in the body copy, I want to make sure that links looks different. I want to provide feedback so when you rollover say for instance the Home button, maybe it changes colors or something, but this user feedback is really helpful. I want to really have minimal clicks to get from one place to another. So we don't want the user to do a whole lot of work when it comes to finding content. Then of course, grouping navigation into logical units. In this case, it's not a very robust site, so it's pretty straightforward there.
Some other considerations to also understand and to get familiar with is the hierarchy of information. Is it perfectly clear, is there some sort of header line and then is there body copy underneath it or do we have three header lines? We need to make sure we have a hierarchy of information. We want to make sure the text is legible and easy to read. I want to make sure my font is consistent as well across the site and I want each page to look like an entirely different site. I want to keep all the body copy bite- sized, because in general people spend a probably less than 30 seconds on a webpage and concerning this copy and the content in general, I'm going to make sure these pages are potentially printer-friendly, in case they do decide to print out this content.
Then I want to make sure critical content is above the fold and that means they don't have to scroll down for critical information. That is, the fold. The fold is the information they would have to scroll to get to. So I'm going to take all of that information into consideration when I design my site and really what you see here is a sketch of what the site might potentially flow like for the most part. You can see that I want to make sure this site fits on somebody's browser and on their monitor effectively.
So I don't want to make my site maybe more than 1,000 pixels wide. So if you are designing this in Photoshop, you probably just want to make a new document and make your canvas, your document size, about 1,000 pixels wide and then the height will be about 600 pixels high before they have to start scrolling. Again, you can use any software program you are comfortable with to design the site and you can use Photoshop, you can use Fireworks, whatever you want, but the result should follow this sketch that is outlined here.
So a site that's going to have sort of the title at the top. I have defined the page that you are on as well as the navigation is of course near the top of the page, grouped logically, and the body copy is legible and for the most part bite-sized. It's getting a little lengthy in there and of course the links are visually different from the copy. So really based on all of these design fundamentals, if you will, as well as sort of web fundamentals, you are able to come up with a really good design that's going to be really effective and appropriate for your audience.
- Exploring the Dreamweaver workspace for first-time users
- Linking to external web pages and sites
- Improving the presentation of text and images on the site
- Building a layout using Cascading Style Sheets
- Making navigation reusable across multiple pages
- Displaying content using the Accordion widget
- Creating a contact form and sending data from it
- Making the final site search engine-friendly
Skill Level Beginner
Q: After creating the website as instructed in the tutorial, and uploading the site to the internet, the website does not seem to work for every browser. How can one make sure that the website will work for all browsers?
A: An important step when creating a website is to check for browser compatibility. To do so in Dreamweaver, go to Window > Results > Browser Compatibility. Click the Play icon in the left corner then go to Settings and target the browsers you¹re after. Then hit the Play button to run it and check the page that’s open. If there’s an issue, best-case scenario, it should show you what the issue is and link out to a solution. Worst case is that it’s a pretty unique issue, in which case further troubleshooting would be needed.
Q: The background image is tiling, instead of being one large image. How is this corrected in Dreamweaver?
A: This can be corrected by using a larger image, something around 1024x768 that will fill up most of the monitor space. The issue is that the background image is just too small. Note that tiling of the background image can be turned off in the CSS Panel, but that would only result in a single small image. So it’s better to just use a larger image for the background.
Q: When trying to import SWF content, I get a message: “This file is outside the root folder of site ‘xxxxx’ and may not be accessible when you publish the site.” What is causing this?
A: Make sure your SWF file (and all files you put on a page) are located in your local site. Basically make sure you set up a local site in the site panel. It will ask where to put your local site on your computer. Just make sure you SWF is in that folder and you won’t get that error.