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by Steve Siercks, Jordan Streiff, & Chris Rogers
computer news with the teen perspective

How To Build A Successful Web Page: Part III, Features!
by Steve Siercks
December 2nd

Hello there! Welcome to part three of this five part series on how to create and maintain a successful web page. If you've been reading these steps, you'll be quite surprised because at the end of this article be sure to check out a special contest that anyone can enter for a really cool prize. If you haven't read all of the past articles, well, you're out of luck. JUST KIDDING! Just be sure to read the past two articles (and this one) before you read about the contest at the end of this article.

With that aside, let's get started with the article! This weeks "step" is actually a pretty cool one. It's going to focus on how to plan and design the content of your web site without even touching a button on your keyboard. That's right, get out your pens and paper because it's time to draft your web site!

Part 3: Drafting/Desiging

Now that you've gotten the two hardest steps out of the way (finding out what your topic is going to be for your web site and then researching it) it's time to have a little bit of fun. This step is going to focus on laying out what you are thinking about putting on your site and then designing it in a way that is both appealing and easy to read. This step shouldn't take you that long, but as I always say: The more time you take now, the more fun it will be later.

You should remember the kinds of things you researched from the last column (if you didn't read it, check it out now!) because this is where they come into play. I told you last time that you should take notes on what you don't like and what you like about other sites that focus on the same topic as yours. Well, be sure to get that out now because we're about to use it!

Take another piece of paper out. What you are going to do now is a lot like what you did in the very first step. Make a list of about 10 kinds of content that you would like to put on your web site. By saying content I mean things like chat rooms, message boards, or even daily news and a picture of the week. So, go ahead and make a list of about 10 content ideas.

After you have made your list, look it over. Now it's time for the first cut. Narrow your list down to about eight content areas. Some criteria that you should use when narrowing these items down is:

A. Ease of creating- If a content idea is to hard to create/make, then don't do it! You should understand where your limits are and don't exceed them. Also, if you can't make a certain thing on your website, don't rely on getting someone else to do it. If you really want this webpage to be yours, you will have to create everything thats going to be on it.

B. Popularity- Sometimes we know if something is going to be more popular on one kind of website and less popular on another. Be sure you know where the line is. If you are doing a website on polish meat balls, don't have a daily picture of different kinds of rices. The reader's wouldn't like that because what they are looking for is information on polish meat balls. This may seem like an extreme, but you must be very careful about this.

C. Your research- Yes! You did do all that research for a reason :). Take out the sheet of paper with all the notes about the different kinds of content that you liked on each website. Try to transfer some of the content ideas that you liked on their websites onto your own. You should try to make a certain variation on the content idea instead of just copying them because it is not fair to the other person.

Now that you have made the cut for the top 8 content ideas it's time to cut it some more. Again, cut two more of your ideas of the list. Use the same criteria above to make your decision, but pay a lot more attention this time because this is a major aspect of your website. This is what the readers will do at your website and how they will learn more and express their opinions about your topic.

Are you done narrowing done your list to your top 6 choices for content ideas? If you have, congrats (if you haven't, KEEP WORKING!) Don't worry, this will be the last time you make this kind of choice for about, hmm, a week :). Since you have put so much time and effort into narrowing done your topics, it's time to take a little break. Let these choices of yours sit in your mind for at least a couple of days. If you want to make any changes to your content ideas, be sure to make them now because this will be your last chance to easily change your content.

Once you have waited a little while it's time to start desiging, but we'll get into that next week. But, as you wait for the fourth step, start to think about what you want your website to look like. Start to try and think about designing a logo for your site. Don't make any final decision's yet, but just start thinking about what you would want people to see when they first open your page, etc.

****CONTEST ALERT********

OK, it's that time all of you have been waiting for, the contest! Here's how it's going to work. You mission, if you choose to accept it, is to create a web page based off of the steps that this "tutorial" is teaching you. It must include most of what the author has said about how to create an effective webpage. Eventhough the series is not over yet, by telling you about the contest now it gives you some time to start on the process instead of leaving it all to the last minute. So, start working! The ending date will be posted with the last step of this series (we'll give you about a month after the last step is uploaded). So, start working. Oh wait, you may want to know what the prize is. Well, you're going to have to wait a little while because we want to increase the hype. But I'll tell you now, it's pretty big! So, start working!

See you next week,

Steve Siercks

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