Web Document Topics
The use of HTML extends back to 1990 when Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web at the Conseil European pour la Recherche Nucleaire in Switzerland.
Today, creating Web documents involves many technologies, although the core language of Web documents remains HTML (even as defined in XHTML).
With the Web such a growing part of our commercial and educational life today, doing an excellent job in creating Web documents is an important skill.
This lesson gives you some ideas about how to do a better job in creating Web documents and pointers to discussions of particular technologies and techniques.
Working with Web Documents
Keeping up with new technologies
With so many emerging Web technologies you might feel overwhelmed. Here's some tips on keeping up to speed:
- Pay attention to standards. Trendy and flaky technologies will always come and go. What will remain are the accepted standards that help make a universally-accessible World Wide Web. By investing your learning resources in standards, you'll be more assured that what you learn will work accurately and not go out of style.
- Invest in your thinking ability. Learning the syntax of HTML and technologies like CSS can give you skills to implement Web documents that communicate a message. The technology and syntax itself, however, isn't so important as your ability to work with documents online and create something worthwhile and meaningful. In fact, the most important part of Web development is meaning and content, not technology.
Focus on what you do best. If you are not going to be a Web
specialist, don't feel you have to learn every Web-related
technology that comes along. In fact, if you are not willing to
learn what it takes to use the technology well, better not attempt
learning it at all.
For example, Java is a language for creating interactive, dynamic Web content. To create Java applications, you need to know good software engineering principles and good object-oriented analysis, design, and implementation techniques. I would say that this would require at least four academic semesters of work to achieve competency. In order to use small Java applications on your pages, you can learn to use the APPLET in a week or so. You could also learn to write small "toy" Java applets in a few weeks, but these do not tap the real power of Java.
Developing your career
If you seek to become an employee or entrepreneur in Web-related work, you'll need to specialize. Gone are the days of the Web "renaissance person" who could know all there is to know about the Web. Today, you might make a living specializing in just one of:
- style sheets
- Web marketing
- ecommerce issues
- content development
- page and site design
- online community development
- site content analysis
- web media brokering
- communication design
- Web use teaching (levels K-12, university, adult)
- web server administration
- tool design
- Web graphics
- accessibility design
- site promotion
- Web content development services
- advertising sales
- Web audience research
- Web technology teaching
- user interface design
- project management
- or many others.
You could further specialize according to the genre of Web site you work on. You could specialize in:
- online storefronts (like amazon.com)
- Consumer-oriented Web sites for corporations (like kraft.com)
- Web sites for corporations themselves (like aosmith.com)
- Web sites for institutions (like Froedert Hospital)
- online storefronts for businesses that have physical stores (like walmart.com)
- online publications (like Urban Desires)
- publications that are on paper and online (like The Washington Post)
- portals (like excite.com)
- mega-media sites (like go.com)
- reference sites (like britannica.com)
- one-person operations (like drudgereport.com)
All Web sites are not the same. Your deep understanding of the purpose and audience of a Web site is crucial for you to develop its content and technology well.
Hand-crafting large Web sites without a plan is not practical. You'll need an understanding of processes involved in Web content development as well as some tools to manage the technology.
Exercise: Find your niche
Discuss your interest in specializing in Web documents. Will you become a specialist? Or just use the Web and create documents as part of of your job?
Discuss what technique might help you create Web documents better. Show how using it improves the Web pages you've created.