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Getting Down to Basics

Rule 2: Draw a Site Map.

Drawing a site map in advance is always a good idea. Even if it is just a list of what pages will be included, it will help to visualize the layout of the site before any code is actually written.

Sample Site Layout Chart

It is also important to think about the behind the scenes layout of the site. The structure of directories to support the inner workings should be planned at this stage. A sample list of directories for the chart above might go something like this:









In this example, all of the icons and images used on the site would be stored in the "icons" subdirectory. All of the pictures used on the "My Family" page or the "Pictures" page would be stored in the "pictures" subdirectory.

Rule 3. No pages should contain over 50k of Text and Images

The first question to pop up about the above site map might be, "Why is there a Pictures page after the Photos page?" The reason is simple. Typically images, especially photographs, tend to be very large compared to text. So it makes much more sense to put small thumbnail images on the Photos page and have each image linked to a full size version... which in this case is represented by the Pictures page in the graph. That way, people have the option of only downloading the images they really want to see.

This rule applies to pages other than photo albums even more. At least when a client clicks on a "Photos" page they are expecting to spend time downloading and viewing them. But when an unsuspecting visitor stumbles upon a page that contains an extraordinary amount of graphics or text, they may decide it is not worth their wait and leave immediately.

So why the magic number of 50k? Well, with a 14.4 modem, 50k will download to the client in about a minute (on a good day). And most people simply aren't going to sit around for longer than that waiting for a page to load.

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