Website development

Introduction

The idea behind the final project is to give you a chance to apply the knowledge you have acquired throughout the quarter to the process of creating a Web site.

Up to this point in the semester, the HTML and CSS you’ve been writing has been for practice with the mechanical aspects of creating Web pages. Hopefully, that work has laid a foundation upon which you can expand to employ some of the more involved aspects of HTML and CSS which the assignments have not yet addressed.

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Please note, however, that the final project is much more than a mechanical exercise. It is also intended to give you experience in the creative and artistic aspects of designing and implementing an effective Web site.

Picking a Theme

Before you can begin to design or implement any Web site, you first need to determine the theme of that site. In other words, you need to begin by asking yourself “What is my purpose and how do I intend to achieve it?”

I expect your project to be focused on a single theme or purpose. The theme or purpose you choose for your project is completely up to you. The only limitation is that your purpose must be more than to simply tell the world about yourself. What I mean by this is that I do not want to see a final site whose only unifying theme is that every page is about you or your different interests. Instead, pick one aspect of yourself or one specific interest you have and develop a site to share that specific topic (and your unique perspectives and contributions on that topic) with your readers.

There is a nearly infinite range of topics and approaches that are acceptable. Feel free to create a site that serves another purpose in addition to fulfilling your project requirement. If there’s something in particular you’ve always wanted to do with a Web site, this is a prime opportunity. It’s fine to do a site for your employer, an organization to which you belong, or anything else you feel warrants representation on the Web. Just try to keep your goals reasonable so that you do not get started on a project which you do not have time to finish. If need be, create a project which can act as a starting point for a more involved site in the future.

In general, the best themes are those which allow you to share things that only you are able to share, since such themes result in presentations that offer something truly unique. So if you are at a loss for ideas, try thinking of things that you might contribute to the Web based upon your unique experience, background, or knowledge. This will often lead you to the things that will both hold your interest and provide something attractive to your readers.

If you are concerned about the appropriateness of your chosen theme, feel free to send me an e-mail for confirmation, but in all honesty, if you can describe your idea in an e-mail it’s probably fine.

Whatever you choose as your theme or purpose, make sure it’s something that interests you enough to keep your attention for awhile. You’ll be spending a lot of time on your site over the last few weeks of the quarter.

Getting Started

Creating a full-fledged Web site can be a time-consuming task. Therefore, I strongly encourage you to get started as soon as possible. And the place to start is with a design of some sort.

There is no standard way to design a Web site, but you should at least sit down and decide how best to present your ideas in order to achieve your goal. Decide what information you want on each page and how you want to organize it for maximum impact. Decide on the images and formatting that you wish to use and how users will likely wish to navigate among your pages. You will also need to identify appropriate remote resources to enhance the utilitarian value of your site. Keep in mind that all of these factors will be taken into account when your project is being graded.

Of course, you can also just sit down and start writing the HTML for your pages, but the better the idea you have of what you intend to do before you begin the less likely you’ll find yourself redoing entire pages as you go along.

As you plan your approach, be sure to keep the minimum technical requirements in mind, since you will need to work them into your site somehow.

Grading

There are two major components to the grading of the final project. One is subjective, and the other is objective.

30% of the grade is subjective. To determine this part of the grade, I will be looking at several aspects of your work:

  • Theme (10 points): How easy is it to identify the central theme or purpose of your site? How well does your site achieve that purpose?
  • Navigation (10 points): How easily can a typical user find their way around your site? Are the navigation links consistent and easy to identify and use?
  • Content (10 points): What quantity and quality of original content have you composed for your site?
  • Design (10 points): What level of creativity have you used in conveying your theme or purpose? How good do the results look and how consistent are the presentational aspects of your site, such as colors and positioning?
  • Professionalism (10 points): How polished is your site? Does it demonstrate sufficient attention to detail? Has it been carefully proofread for typos and other content errors?
  • Complexity (10 points): How ambitious and advanced is your use of HTML and CSS? How far did you go beyond the basic, minimum requirements? Have you simply copied and pasted from the sample documents or done your own thing?

Please note that this is not an exercise in copying and pasting. Stealing someones content and passing it off as your own is plagiarism (and is likely also copyright infringement). This is unethical (and in some cases illegal) and will be considered cheating. Make sure and cite any information you copy.

Invest some time and generate some meaningful content (yes, that means write it yourself!) For instance, if your project involves your favorite sports team, don’t just list their roster, record, and statistics. Or if your project is a fan site for your favorite band, don’t simply list a discography and tour dates or display photos of the band and their albums. Instead, tell your reader something that only you can tell them. There are dozens of places to find discographies for bands or statistics for sports teams already on the Web. Don’t just create another. Do something that will make yours special. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and opinions! Tell readers why this is your favorite band, or team, or hobby, or sport… That’s what the Web is primarily about—sharing your thoughts with others.

70% of the grade is objective. To determine this part of the grade I will be looking at the following aspects of your project:

  • Correctness (60 points): Does your HTML and CSS code validate when the URL of each page is submitted to the appropriate W3C validator without generating any errors? Are all the URLs used in your code correct and functional? Have you adhered to the best practices presented throughout the semester?
  • Completeness (60 points): How completely have you satisfied the minimum technical requirements specified below?

Note that the technical requirements are minimums; you should feel free to include more features than those described.

Although it may seem that placing such requirements on a Web project is needlessly artificial, they do play an important role in the grading. The technical requirements provide a basis for a significant portion of the grade which is easily measured by both you and me. As with the code validators, you should be able to assure yourself of having met the requirements (or not, as the case may be), and I will be able to verify that you have done so.

The requirements force you to put into practice many of the features of HTML and CSS we have covered in lecture throughout the semester, and figuring out how to incorporate the requirements into your work (presumably without forfeiting its overall effectiveness) will hopefully lead you to evaluate different ways in which various aspects of HTML and CSS can be used to enhance your pages.

It is important to note that during the grading process I will grade any and all HTML documents published within your home directory that can be reached by following a series of one or more links from your index.html document. Therefore, if you have other HTML documents published that you do not want considered during the grading process, it is important that you not have any active links to them within the HTML documents that comprise your project.

Technical Requirements

(if you wish to substitute remove or adjust requirements to fit your website needs this is generally ok but please contact me first. )

The minimum technical requirements which the pages in your site must meet are as follows:

  • Your site must consist of at least four local pages written in valid HTML5. All HTML files other than index.html must be stored in a subfolder of your root folder.
  • Each of your pages must be linked in some way via a local link to the rest of your site. It is not technically necessary (though it may be desirable) for every page to contain a link to every other page. Nor is it necessary for any one page to contain local links to all of the other pages. However, somewhere within your pages there must be some way to reach every page in your site via a local link. Pages that are not accessible via local links will not be graded. In other words, I will start at your homepage and follow all the local links it contains. Then I will repeat the process for every page those links lead to, and so on, until I’ve followed every local link available on all of your pages. I will then grade every local page I have found. If you’ve published a page that I cannot find using this approach, it will not be considered part of your project and will not be considered in your grade.
  • Somewhere within your site you must have appropriately utilized at least twenty unique CSS properties within one or more internal or external style sheets. Do not use any inline styles in your pages.
  • Somewhere within your site you must have appropriately utilized at least one uses of an appropriately chosen background image.
  • Somewhere within your site you must have at least two links to different remote resources (i.e., other people’s Web pages) that increase the value of your project for the user.
  • Your site must display at least five inline images published locally by you (in addition to any background images you may use). The use of images published as remote resources will not be allowed. Each individual image used (including your background images) must have a file size no greater than 200 kilobytes. All image files must be published in a separate subfolder of your root folder (not the same subfolder in which you have published your HTML pages).
  • Somewhere within your site you must have at least one form which contains at least 4  controls. Each form control must be appropriately labeled.

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