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Simple ways to get a site worth seeing

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Since I'm as likely to be as successful in convincing architects to hire professionals to design their websites as I have been in persuading my friends to hire architects for their extensions, here are some of the basic sources which potential web designers need to know about. First the prophet of web design, Jakob Nielsen and his www.useit. com. Then the W3C WAI guidelines.

WAI stands for Web Accessibility Initiative and W3C for World Wide Web Consortium. That means, of course, lots of academic waffle about the meaning of the papers presented at meetings of the above and to whom they don't apply and in what circumstances they might perhaps apply and lots of equally unimportant things discussed at length.

But the tyro web designer really has to wade through it all and get to the basic guidelines, which are more or less what Nielsen and this column have been ranting on about all this time: clarity, simplicity, absence of visual tricks, no PDF stuff, changeable text size. And fast.

Then software. Please don't waste practice dosh on the professionals' Dreamweaver. There is a whole bunch of quite cheap or free web design software about. Much of it is based on using stock templates of varying degrees of visual unpleasantness. But, like shopping at Ikea, there are probably one or two which you can just about stomach. And you really will need to be able to write a smattering of HTML. This is not exactly difficult, but takes time. Do you want to, or more accurately will your co-directors let you, take time off to learn hypertext mark-up language when you should be supervising door schedules or ruling the world?

Now that you are going to hire a pro instead of going DIY, here is a site which breaks all the rules, has lots of tricks and a smart-ass navigation system but is widely admired in the design community. At which it is aimed. It also has that terrific Smith & Foulks Honda diesel ad on it. It is Nexus Productions' www. nexusanimation. com.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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