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Web Design
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About the most essential part of designing a Web page is cool graphics and smart layout. The very best tip for graphics is to SURF, SURF, SURF. Almost all of the graphics I've used in this site were found surfing. Often it's easiest to just save a graphic off the Web, then just modify it slightly to suit your needs. Of course, this only works for personal pages since you'll face copyright problems with corporate sites. Many sites freely give away their graphics for use on Web pages however, and a list of graphics sites from my bookmarks follows for reference. An absolutely essential tool you'll need is Paint Shop Pro, an excellent graphics program with almost as many features as Adobe Photoshop (and a lot easier to use!!). Here's a good tutorial on PSP too. Another essential place to bookmark is VRL's Imaging Machine, which will enable you to perform many graphics functions, such as transparent GIF's via the Web (in case you can't get it to work inside PSP).

Graphics Bookmarks/ Credits

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Adding a Webcounter to your page is simple. Just register with one of the Webcounter services, and you're off. Personally I like to use the Web Counter at Digits, even though their popularity means the counter is often "busy" or "broken", because of the customization options. My Japanese number counter is thanks to these customization options. If you are a Geocities member and would like a more basic counter that is probably less overloaded than Digits, you can get the instructions for Geocities Counter here.

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Guestbooks are also extremely easy with the Pergatory Guestbook server (they've also recently added a FORMS server too, if you're interested in creating your own forms). Pergatory's services far exceed LPage's, which has lost the faith of most of their previous users due to constant data losses and server errors. Even though Geocities still recommends LPage, take it from an experienced user--STAY AWAY from LPage!! Pergatory is much more reliable and gives you tons more customization options.

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There's TONS of stuff you can do to add interactivity to your page. The easiest place to start is with a guestbook and/ or comments form. Both of these are available for free from Pergatory. If you are a Geocities member, you may want to also check out their forms service on this FAQ page.

One thing to remember, however, as you add interactive features to your site (such as Frames, Java, Javascripts, etc.) is that not all browsers will support such features. So make sure you offer something for all users, whether interactive-enabled or not. The best way to do this is to give a selection page on the front door (good example=The Japan Web site). Or, you can be lazy like me and just try to build the site to target the widest audience (as the previous option sometimes requires building two sets for every page--interactive or non-interactive).

Geocities supports Javascript and Java, although getting a set of Java.class files over can be a bit troublesome, since the EZ File upload utility mangles the <Java.class> files (you have to use FTP). However, you can still use Java easily in your page without going to all that trouble by finding some Java applets hosted from other servers. My Java chat applet, for example, is actually located on another server. And here's a TOTALLY cool Java newsgroup applet that looks like it's also hosted from another server (so I'm going to use it too if it works!!). For all Java-related STUFF, THE place to look is GAMELAN, like even more official than Sun for Java stuff, simply because of the sheer number of files and information they have. Everybody with a new applet they want to show off comes here, so it's the best place to start.

Of course, for interactivity, the same tip applies--SURF, SURF, SURF. It's always the best way to find new and cool stuff. Here's a list of my bookmarks for interactive stuff:

Interactivity Bookmarks:

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Get More Hits:

The absolute best way to get more hits on your page is to offer a service or tangible benefit to other users. FedEx, for example, has experienced enormous success with their online tracking service, and individuals offering services to other Webmasters/ Web page makers often get tons of hits. Content and layout are important, but the user won't come unless there's a benefit in doing so. Some examples of services people offer are free banners and/ or graphics services, free graphics or software to download, etc. The possibilities are limitless, but remember to always GIVE the user something--otherwise, what's the point in visiting? Here are the things I've done specifically to make the ATLANTA JAPAN WEB TOWN more appealing to the user:

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HTML Help:

There are tons of sites out there dedicated to helping you with HTML, so I'm not going to duplicate their efforts here. My bookmarks follow for reference. One tip, however, forget about totally designing a Web site with a WYSIWYG editor like Netscape Gold, Front Page, etc. without learning any HTML. Because of the way these programs work using files off your hard drive, which later have to be re-mapped from the remote Web server, it is often necessary to "tweak" the HTML to avoid broken graphics and other problems. So, bottom line is, you better learn HTML. Plus it's handy to make simple changes directly from your Web server (like changing the background color, adding some text, etc.) from the HTML editor, rather than re-uploading and re-tweaking the HTML file. Personally I favor Netscape Gold and Geocities Advanced HTML editor. Here's my HTML bookmarks for reference:

HTML Bookmarks:

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