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Authoring and Design for the WWW
Creating a maintainable site
An up-to-date and consistent site
The Web is perceived as dynamic and up-to-the-minute.
This puts a greater onus on the providers of Web pages than would be the case
with paper documents. Users expect information to be correct today. For
example, course fees may be changed by the HEI, and users will expect the
relevant page to reflect the up-to-date figure, whereas for a paper document they
would be more forgiving.
Some information on a site will change rarely, but must
still be consistent from place to place. For example, the HEI's academic
regulations may remain constant for years, but it is vital that they are represented
identically in every location which needs them. A way of achieving this is to
keep such information in one place only and link to it from any page that needs
User expectations of the complexity and richness of pages
is increasing. While at one time, simply to have a Web page was enough, users
now expect at least some graphics, and more sophisticated text layout. Soon,
animation may be seen as necessary (even when it is not).
Intending Web publishers must ask themselves
- how much time will be involved per week or per month?
- is the structure easily adaptable to changing requirements?
- what strategy do we have for checking the validity of links?
- do we depend on others' goodwill which may decline over an extended period?
- To keep a large site up to date it may be necessary to store
most of the content in databases and format the pages at need, rather than to
prepare pages by hand.
- How does the user know a site is up to date? Pages should
be individually dated where this is considered important. If the user's perception
of immediacy is important, a What's New? banner can be added to the page, or
a distinctive symbol can be placed next to new items in lists. However this adds
to the maintenance task, since What's New? indicators which are out of date will
both irritate the user and embarrass the publisher.
- For consistency of content, it is important to keep common
elements in a single place and cross-link to them, instead of repeating
information in several places, when different versions may accidentally come
Virtual Environments Visualisation