Web design, writing and maintenance

    As you can see in our section on "How to build web pages," anyone can build a website. However, it’s important to remember that there are things to think about if you want to build a good and useful website.

    The links below will provide you with all sorts of tips, tricks, tips and useful information. But here’s a brief summary of the important things to keep in mind when you build a website:

  • Build with the right purpose: Remember that you’re building a website for the people who will be looking at it. Not for you, not for your board. Therefore, the site should include the information that SAE members need from their local section. They won’t come to you for information about golf, web use or anything like that. They’ll come for information about the local section, to access content from local meetings and for services that you provide locally. Build your site with that purpose in mind and only include things that fit this purpose. (And remember our guidelines, which state: "The content of a section’s website must relate solely to the activities of the section.")
  • KISS: This is an old advertising acronym, which stands for "Keep it Simple, Stupid!" Just as with desktop publishing, it’s easy to get drawn into the trap of adding website features just because you can. However, when the magazine Business 2.0 (April 1999) listed 100 things "that work on the web," the first thing listed was "Simplicity." As the article noted, "Who’d have thought that after years of racing to make our websites a carnival of scrolling banners and flaming logos that Internet users want just the opposite: something simple and fast." In addition, the article (and many of the links below) extolled the virtues of "white space," "less is more," "boring can be good," and "speed." Finally, they noted that "Amazon.com has NO JavaScript and its programmers are instructed to program their pages to load in Netscape Navigator 1.22 – the version from five years ago." At the very least, warn people before you send them to pages with large graphics or advanced technology. That way they can decide to stay away from that part and won’t get annoyed or bored with your site.
  • Design for speed: This is so important that it needs it’s own space. That same Business 2.0 article states that "the most important principle of anything you do online is that it’s fast. That means no graphics, and you’re not using the latest technology, you’re not using Java, you’re not using Shockwave, you’re doing things that are text-oriented and that are fast." Web design guru Jakob Nielson notes that most web users still use slow dial-in connections and that "Web pages can be no more than 3 KB if they are to download in one second which is the required response time for hypertext navigation. Users do not keep their attention on the page if downloading exceeds 10 seconds, corresponding to 30 KB at modem speed. Keeping below these size limits rules out most graphics." To see how your site stacks up, go to the Gif Wizard site. Type in your home page address and the site will give you a good look at how fast or slow your pages will download.
  • Look professional: If you keep the last two items in mind, you’re halfway to getting this right. As one author put it, "Schlock doesn’t cut it – your site must have a highly professional appearance… Go for clean, simple, and attractive. Underwhelm." (Overhaul your website)
  • Make it easy to find things: Navigating through your site should be simple and intuitive. Name links appropriately, put links to your main areas on every page and make sure that every page includes an email address. Nothing is more annoying for a web user than having a question and no way to ask it.
  • Don’t use frames: Just about every link below advocates this rule. It’s too easy to misuse them and they can make life very frustrating for web users. (Have you ever tried to bookmark a page that’s in a frame?!) Besides, you’re breaking SAE guidelines if your link to the national page puts our site within your frames.
  • Keep things up to date: Don’t post anything on your site that you can’t keep up to date. Outdated material is the number one way to turn people off and keep them away from your site.
  • Remember that the Web isn’t print: You can’t just do things the same way that you’ve always done in the offline world. People even read differently on the web.

Web Design Links and Tutorials:

CNET Site Design Tips

Colin MacKenzie’s Web Design Tips

Grantastic Design’s Web Design Tips

Great Website Design Tips

**useit.com: Jakob Nielsen's Website

Tips, Tricks, How-to, and Beyond

*Web Design at MiningCo.com

Web Design Tutorials

*Web Pages That Suck.com

Web Wonk Tips for Writers and Designers


Interface Usability is Key!

Web Design For Success!


NetMechanic – Several tools (many free!) that you can use to make sure your site is up to snuff. You can check your site for broken links, download times, browser compatibility, and more!

Gif Wizard – Analyze your site download times and compress your images

GifBot – Another site that will let you optimize your graphics, but this one lets you pick the degree of compression.