Building Your Home Page: A Do-It-Yourself Guide

Southwest Regional Conference of Teachers of Psychology

Edward Kardas

Southern Arkansas University


Fort Worth, Texas--October 31, 1997

Why Do You Want a Home Page?

Ask yourself. Why do you want a home page? What information about yourself do you want made public? How do you want that information organized? Who will see it? Why will they see it? Who will create it? Who will serve it? These are only some of the questions you need to answer before you start.

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Think Ahead

Once you answer the questions above, you will need to plan the organization of your page. Will you just have a single page? Or, will you create an index page with links to other pages? The answer to those questions is very important because once you decide it is very difficult to implement a change in structure.

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After you decide on the structure, storyboard it. In other words, construct a mock up of your page(s). The mock up can be as simple as a diagram on a legal pad or it can be much more complex and elaborate. The idea is to make your ideas about your page more concrete and to catch any logical errors in its structure before you actually begin to write the page.

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Get Software

Ordinary people do not write native HTML. If you do, then, you are by definition different. Most of you, then, will create Web pages by using an HTML editor. Below, I provide the URLs for a variety of commercial, shareware, and freeware HTML editors for nearly all computer platforms. Decide how much you can afford, then download the editor from the Internet.

If you do not already have a browser, you will need to get one. If you do not know what a browser is (i.e., Netscape or Internet Explorer, for instance) you are probably not ready to create your personal home page.

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Writing the Page

After you get the software, tackle a toy problem first. I do not recommend that you create your personal home page as your first project. Instead, find some information of interest that you would like to serve. Using that project, master the basic techniques required for your HTML editor. For example, learn how it creates tables, inserts graphics, makes links and anchors to local files, and how it makes links to files on the Internet. If the sentence you just read did not make any sense to you, then you will need to master some of the basics of the Internet first. Or, wait until the demo when I will explain some of these terms.

Having mastered basic Internet terminology and your particular HTML editor, you should now be ready to begin to write your personal home page. Look at some of the URLs below for help in Web page design. Follow their formatting rules. Go back to your storyboard and begin to write. If you have sufficient memory in your microcomputer, open both the HTML editor and the browser that you use. As you create in your HTML editor, check your progress with your browser. Have your browser set to open the HTML file that you are creating. That way as you make changes, you can monitor how those changes will look once your page is served.

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Serving the Page

How will you serve the page? There are many answers to this question and those answers will depend on your local situation. For example, you may simply be able to serve it from your Internet-connected office computer. Or, you may have to send the html file to your on-campus server. Another possibility is having a commercial Internet Service Provider serve the page.

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Maintaining and Updating the Page

Regardless of how you serve the page, it will require maintenance and updating. Be sure and provide a footer that tells users when the page was last updated. Do not think of your page as a static document. It is not. So, plan a system of updating your page from the beginning. These updates can be done manually, or you can purchase software that will do it for you. (See below)

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Examples of Psychologist's (and others) Home Pages

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Principles of Home Page Design

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HTML Editors (multiple platforms unless indicated)

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Web Management Software (multiple platforms unless indicated)

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Claris Home Page Demo


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Is It All Worth It?

What do you think I will say? To me, obviously, it is worth it. But, what about for you? Realize before you start that you will be making an enormous investment in time, effort, and equipment. That you will be learning about things you never anticipated. That you will have to secure real money to pay for the equipment. That you may become intimate with the director of your computer center. In short, this is not an area to be entered without forethought.

Is there a pay off? I believe that there is. I believe it has made me a better teacher. If nothing else, it has made me more organized. It has given me the ability to tap into deep sources of information. But, I am getting ahead of myself. These are topics I will discuss at tomorrow's session.

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For more information, contact Edward P. Kardas:

Last Modified: 29 Oct. 97