Chapter 18: HTML Style
- Probably the #1 rule is that you should not use
"Click here" to point to a document. It is best
if the text of the link actually has something to do with
the content. It also makes bookmarks/hotlinks work much
- Make sure that all graphics and client side image maps on
your pages have alt tags for use by people who browse
without graphics. Definitely make sure that anything a
visitor needs to use to navigate your site is readable in
- Try to use browser specific tags only when appropriate on
your web sites- and try to provide alternatives for
browsers that don't support these tags (e.g. make sure to
provide a noframes option for people without frames
- Don't overload your pages with graphics- if you need to
use them to enhance the look of your pages, or if they
are an integral part of the content on your site, go
ahead, but put image sizes on the graphics tags so that
they won't slow down loading, and try to reduce the size
of the graphics you use as much as possible (the
Bandwidth Conservation Society has useful information on
- Don't make everything a header just because you want it
to be bold, this is not portable and looks really awful
unless the user has exactly the configuration you use.
- Don't use Netscape (or any other browser specific markup,
including MS Internet Explorer) specific markup in public
documents. As Netscape proved against Mosaic the life of
a browser only exists until the next better browser comes
along. Why do all that work only to have to go back in a
year or so and redo everything. However, if you are
building a private web for some specific purpose it might
very well need something that is browser specific. But
you should still be aware that by using browser specific
features you are going to be stuck with that browser.
There are also obviously the cases where public pages
simply cannot be done any other way than by using some
browser specific feature and by all means, do what you
have to do. Basically, I'm just asking that you keep in
mind your target audience.
- And finally, the biggest style error I see (which
actually has little to do with HTML) is that people do
not pick URL's for their pages that are permanent. How
many links have you tried to follow where it ended up
that the other end was simply gone or worse, the author
had simply renamed the page and makes you hunt for it.
Some basic tips for creating goof HTML:
- Use a solid background for pages that contain large
amounts of text. A solid background is always a good
choice for your web pages. It provides an easy reading
surface for your reader and it doesn't distract from the
main focus of your page: Your text! When using a solid
background, be sure to use a complementary color for your
text. For instance, light blue text does not stand out
well on a white background.
- When using frames, always specify a TARGET of
"_top" for links that go off your site. That
way your visitors won't get stuck in one of your frames.
- When using image maps, provide text links below the map
as well, for users who have turned the display of images
off. Also, remember to make your image map graphic as
small (in terms of file size) as possible.
- Use "height" and "width" attributes
in the "img" tag when displaying images, so
that the user does not need to wait for the image to load
before seeing text further down on the page.
- Include some way for visitors to contact you, i.e. an
email address or a feedback form.
- Be original!
The topic of creating great web pages is a vast one, and has
much to do with design and layout. A few of the best resources
for learning more about this topic are:
|Yale Style Guide
|Composing Good HTML
|What Makes a Good Home Page
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