Monday, 24 March 2014


In this lesson we cover the basics of building and publishing doorway pages.

Recall the outline given in Lesson #8 for Building and Publishing:
Building Your Doorway Page
- Browser compatibility issues
- Resolution compatibility issues
- Loading speed
- Language, grammar, and spelling
- Graphics refinement
- Navigation issues
- Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
- Space requirements
- Code writing
Publishing Your Doorway Page
- Choosing an ISP
- Contract issues
- Uploading your site
- Registering your site
- Maintaining your site

Everyone sees the Internet from the perspective of their own computer. Most people have only one browser installed and running on his or her computer . As browsers differ somewhat in the way that they interpret and display the code they read from retrieved Web pages, we see Web pages somewhat differently than other users with different types or versions of browsers. Also, people use different resolutions on their monitors or have their monitors adjusted differently. This doesn't have much significance until you start the process of designing your own Web page. What you see when you look at your own Web page may not be exactly what others else see when they look at it.
Although Internet Explorer and Netscape are by far the most common browsers, they behave differently from each other and each has had several different versions to date, with each version behaving somewhat differently from previous and subsequent versions. When you add in the different monitor resolution settings, there are quite a number of possibilities as to how a Web page will look from computer to computer. Just because your Website looks good on your computer does not prevent it from being a jumbled mess on someone else's screen. For example, if you design your site to fill your screen using 1024x768 resolution, only a portion of your page will be seen on a monitor using 640x480 resolution.

Sophisticated Web designers deal with this problem with Java or other code that reads the browser version of each computer before it is displayed. The code that is sent to the browser then depends on which browser is reading the page. An appropriate page of code will be sent to each browser version. Such designs are expensive, however, and are not feasible for the novice Webmaster to code for themselves. Another approach is to use basic, standard HTML code, which is compatible with all browsers, and build the page so that it looks good on a variety of different platforms. With a little time and research, this is within the reach of the novice Web designer. It is better to build a simple page anyway. Simple can be quite attractive.

Another reason to keep your page simple is the loading speed. Research suggests that the amount of time viewers will wait for a page to load depends on how valuable they expect the page to be. However, if they are not already convinced the page will contain value for them, they will not wait very long. Thus, a doorway page has to load very fast. The simpler the code and the fewer graphics and script it contains, the faster it will load.

When you use graphic designs and photos on your main page, keep them small. You may give your viewer the option of waiting to see a larger version of the photo by clicking on it if you think it will be important to them. Do not make them wait for the large photo to load on the main page. These smaller pics which click through to larger versions of themselves are called "thumbnails." Using thumbnails helps to keep your main page fast loading.

Also, keep the number of graphics and photos as small as possible on your doorway page. I once knew a would-be Web designer who designed a beautiful page for a local agency. The page was truly beautiful, but had one small problem—it took 25 minutes to load through the average modem. Finding the right balance between using graphics and fast loading speed is the key to an effective page.

How many of you noticed in the outline listed in the last lesson that the word "grammar" was misspelled? For those of you who noticed that, how did it affect your reading of the last lesson? How did it affect your feelings about the competency of this course in general (before reading here that we did that on purpose)? It made a difference, didn't it? While not everyone notices small errors, it makes a difference to those who do notice them.

It goes without saying that you should take care that the written content of your page does not contain glaring errors in language, grammar, or spelling. While electronic communications such as chat rooms, e-mail, and, to some extent, even Web pages are more tolerant of such errors than the print media audience, it will make your page much more effective if you take care to draft your wording wisely and effectively and use proper grammar and spelling.

It is not advisable to grab the free clipart from popular clipart pages to build your Website. That same clipart is probably already in use on thousands of other pages precisely because it is free and readily available. In addition, clipart is not really what you want on your page. You need graphics which provide identity and flow. Clipart tends to be cute rather than professional. The novelty has worn off for the popular clipart. It would be better, in my opinion, to have fewer graphics on your page than to use clipart. Small buttons and arrows are ok, but use the subtle ones. Flashy animation can detract from the flow of your page.

It takes both art and science to develop professional-looking graphics. Knowing the right resolution to maintain quality appearance within acceptable loading speeds is crucial. Reducing an image or a scanned or digital photograph to the desired size and resolution without distortion can be a tedious task. You need to have good graphics software and some knowledge of how to use it. In sizing your images, remember again that different people use different resolutions on their monitors. The relative size of the image on a screen will depend on the resolution of the monitor on which it is viewed. The standard graphics file formats across all browsers are .GIF and .JPG. Thus, you want to put your graphics in one of these formats. You need to put the size of your image in the HTML image code to speed loading. Otherwise, the browser has to determine the size of the image first in order to allocate the space for the image on the screen, slightly reducing loading speed.

Also refine your graphics for visual effect. If you have sophisticated graphics software, you can slightly adjust your images to pull the eye in the direction you desire to promote the flow of your page.

If you have more than one page on your doorway site, the method you provide for visitors to move around your site is of utmost importance. Each site with more than a couple of pages needs a well thought out navigation scheme. Navigation of the site is accomplished, of course, by the insertion of hyperlinks that move the visitors to other pages on the site. A doorway page should not have too many links because it has a directional purpose. Links that are used should be clearly identified and should lead the viewer logically through the information on the site. Links can also give your visitors a choice of the content on your site. A navigation bar across the top or side of your page should be sufficient for a doorway page. Some links within the content itself may be appropriate, but do not overburden your visitors with choices. Links, like footnotes, can be distracting from the flow of your content.

Be sure to include return links to bring your visitors back into the directional flow. You don't want your visitors to wind up at a dead end somewhere because they clicked on a hyperlink. A navigation bar on every page can be a safeguard against this. By "navigation bar" we mean a set of links placed together with some symmetry of design. When you create a navigation bar, you can then just copy the code and paste it on your other pages.

Including a Privacy Policy for your site will give your site a professional feel and provide a comfort level to your visitors. Your Privacy Policy is simply your statement of what information you intend to collect from your visitors and what you intend to do with that information.

There are two ways to collect information from the visitors to your site. One is to have the visitor fill in information on a Web form. The other way is to collect information by capturing the CGI variables that accompany the request to retrieve your page. This less-obvious method is cause for more feelings of insecurity for your visitors. When surfing the Web, a browser sends out a signal to the Web server hosting the desired page. That signal says, in effect, "Here's my IP number, send me your page." The page is then sent to the computer so that the browser can read the code and display the page on the screen. The signal sent to the Web server also contains some other information, such as the user ID, the type and version of the browser being used, and other information.

Thus, even if you do not collect personal information with a form, it is a good idea to include a Privacy Policy stating your intentions as a Web host with respect to the personal information you could be collecting from the CGI variables accompaning the requests for your page. If you do collect information with a form, it is even more important to have a clearly stated Privacy Policy on your site.

"Terms of Use" is different from the Privacy Policy. Terms of Use is where you make legal declarations which may protect you against liability if someone misuses the information on your page or injures themselves somehow while trying to use information you have provided. If you have a discussion board or other means for your visitors to post information to your site, your Terms of Use can set the rules for participation. Terms of Use can also be used to claim intellectual property rights in the information on your site, including the information posted there by others. Discussion of all possible legal issues that may need to be addressed and how they should be addressed in your Terms of Use is beyond the scope of this course. Competent legal advice should be sought if you feel you might have any liability issues with respect to your site.

Finally, you should approximate the size of your site in terms of bytes of disk space needed, including all images and graphics you will be using. Take into account future updates. Make sure that the size of your site matches the server space available from your host.

Coding a Web page can be very simple or very complicated, depending on what you try to do and how you try to do it. It is beyond the scope of this course to teach you HTML, and it would be reinventing the wheel if we attempted to do so. There are countless tutorials for HTML on the Web itself. Just go to any search engine and search for "HTML help" or "HTML Tutorial" and you will get a wealth of information. If you learn better with a book in hand, I would recommend Creative HTML Design.2: A Hands-on HTML 4.0 Web Design Tutorial with Cdrom available from Barnes and Nobles. Barnes and Nobles also offers a free online course in Web design under "Online Courses." Excellent online courses can also be found at

If learning HTML gives you a headache, but you don't want to hire a design firm, you have two other alternatives. You can install an HTML editor on your computer and use it to build your code. Free editors are even available at such sites as However, some HTML editors take more time to learn than HTML code itself, so be careful in your choice. Your other option would be to use a site like Bigstep allows you to build and host a Website using their forms system, which is easy to use and does not require any knowledge of HTML.

Web pages reside on Internet Servers. While it is possible to host a page from your own computer, you would need to have Internet Server software installed and configured, and you would need a continuous high speed connection to the Internet. In addition, you would also need a permanently assigned IP number, which is used to find your page. If it changes each time you connect, your page will be lost to the Internet.

Thus, you need to find a hosting service for your Web page. You want one that has a lot of bandwidth so that your site will be served up fast, even at busy times. You will want one that has good support. If you have problems getting your page on their server, you want to get someone on the telephone to work out the problem. You also want one that's going to stay in business. At the time of this writing, a popular free Web hosting service just went belly up and left a lot of affiliates without a site (many did not even have a backup copy of their HTML code)! Websites went offline and the phones were disconnected with little advance warning. Thus, while free is nice, you may prefer to pay a reasonable fee for hosting of your site to ensure that you get good support and that your site will not just disappear.

You should consult an attorney before entering into any important contract. It is beyond the scope of this course to identify all issues that may be important in your hosting contract. Some issues that are usually important, however, are the following.

How much disk space and bandwidth are you allotted for the base fee? What are the charges for exceeding the diskspace or bandwidth limitation. (Bandwidth is used each time someone retrieves your page—approximately the same amount as the size of your page in diskspace.) What notice will you be given when the base allocation is exceeded?

What is the term of the contract? That is, how long are you committed for? Can the price be increased during that time?

Who pays for the domain name registration with the registration service—you or your host? For how many years will the name be registered? Who is responsible for renewing it?

Make sure you maintain ownership of your domain name if you are registering one. I knew an unscrupulous ISP that registered all of its Web customers' domain names as its own. When anyone tried to change services, they were told they did not own their domain names.

Make sure you maintain the intellectual property rights for your own site, even if the ISP is hired to design it.

What editors do they support? What CGI support do they have? Do they provide database integration? If so, for what platforms?

Find out what the updating charges will be, if any. What access do you have to update your site on your own?

What backup procedures does the ISP use and are copies available to you?

Do you get e-mail addresses with your domain? How many?

What will the ISP do to promote your site, if anything?

What exactly will happen if you fail to pay on time? Will an embarrassing notice be posted in place of your site?

Again, these are just a sampling of the things that may need to be spelled out in a written contract with your hosting service. You should consult an attorney regarding any other issues that may be important in your particular situation.

Another thing to discuss with your hosting service is how you will get your site on their server. Some hosts support FrontPage, which is an editor that has a unique way of uploading the Website. If you build your site with FrontPage, you will need FrontPage support on the server, not only to upload it, but for it to work at all on the host's server. Otherwise, the most common method is FTP (File Transfer Protocol). You will need FTP software on your computer. I would recommend WS_FTP LE which can be downloaded with a free trial from You will need to find out the FTP address to your Web directory from your host and the username and password to access it.
Some hosts allow you to send in your page and its updates as e-mail attachments or through an uploading form on their Website.

"Registering Your Site" can mean two different things. If you want your own domain name, it must be registered with ICANN through one of the registration services, such as Network Solutions. The registration service must also be supplied with the proper DNS numbers for the primary and secondary DNS servers for your host. If you registered your domain name before you acquired your hosting service, you will need to make sure that your host's DNS numbers get listed in your registration profile with the registration service.

The term "registering your site" is often used to refer to registration with search engines. There is no one definitive place to register your site. There are countless search engines on the Internet now. Fifteen or so of them are generally considered to be the important ones because they get 90% of the traffic. Registering your site with the search engines can be a complicated process, which we will begin to discuss in the next lesson.

Doorway pages can be very useful in promoting affiliate programs. They allow you to target specific audiences and lead them to your target link. Doorway pages allow you to optimize search engine acceptance and placement. Building and publishing your own doorway page can be an exciting and interesting adventure.

Our next lesson will introduce you to search engines.

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