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Answers to Exercises, Chapter 1

Test Questions

  1. There are more than four ways in which a Web page differs from a printed page, including the following: a Web page is not a physical object; it requires hardware and software to display it; it has no fixed dimensions; text may reflow if the browser window is resized; layout and typography are not fixed; a Web page can be interactive; it can include moving images and sound.

    Examples of elements that can be included in a Web page but not on a printed page include animation, video and sound; rollovers; data-entry forms.

  2. You should find your own examples for this question, but here are some examples, some of them obvious, others less so. (For international organizations, we have given the UK site, you may be more familiar with a local version.) Note that we cannot guarantee that all of these sites will continue to exist. We are not responsible for the content of any of these sites, and our including them here does not imply any sort of endorsement of the organizations that control them or the products and services they may offer.

    Personal site: it would be unfair and possibly unkind to pick on any individual's site here. There are still plenty around to choose from. You could also look at pages on social networking sites like MySpace to see how people present themselves on the Web.

    Blog:Surfin' Safari is an example of a tightly focussed technical blog.

    Forum: The (English language) Python forums.

    Art/entertainment: Bembo's Zoo is certainly entertaining, even if you prefer to call it education. The National Museum of Korea has a site that is typical of those supporting galleries. We make money not art is a combination of blog and information about contemporary art, including art on the Web.

    Information: This is a huge category. The Guardian's site provides an example of the news sub-category. The accessible train times site is noteworthy because of the clean and accessible way it presents information. (The same information is available in much less accessible form on several other sites.)

    Online shop: Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world. This Indian online online florist is just one of many, chosen at random (observe the visual design of the site) .

    Directory: The Open Directory Project is a pure directory.

    Portal: Yahoo is now a portal. Trinidad shopping shows a more focussed type of portal.

    Online service: Paypal provides online payment services.

    Enterprise site: This is our publisher's site.

  3. There's room for some disagreement here. Generally, a site does not benefit from an RSS feed if it doesn't get updated very often or gets updated so often that a feed would be overwhelmed. Personal sites are likely to fall into the first category (though blogs, by definition, don't); forums might belong to the second. Informational sites presenting some fixed set of information don't need a feed. Search engines and directories cannot provide a feed either. Most portals and online services would not provide a general feed, though they might provide feeds for special purposes, such as special offers or system status messages. Increasingly, more and more sites are finding ways of using RSS/Atom.
  4. See Chapter 9 for a full discussion of this. In particular, blind or partially sighted people using screenreaders will not be able to use a site that presents information in a purely visual manner, with no textual alternative; people with RSI or some other disability that prevents them using a mouse will not be able to use sites that require them to point and click.
  5. No. Always use Web standards, to guarantee that your pages do not depend on any particular browser or operating system. That way, you will not exclude any potential visitors, including those using unconventional user agents because of disabilities. You will also ensure that your sites remain compatible with new versions of browsers developed in the future.
  6. At the time of writing, you would need to consider speeds from 56kbps to 8Mbps, these being the limits of the speeds generally available to domestic users. This will change as faster broadband technologies become more widely available. It is important for Web designers to keep aware of how speeds are changing.
  7. Not very much, since the sample size is far too small to represent the range of abilities (and disabilities) of the world-wide Web community. Only if one or more users does experience a problem can you deduce anything. (In other words, user testing, like software testing, can only ever demonstrate the presence of problems, not their absence.)
  8. Visual design plays a vital role in communicating information effectively and improving usability. Good visual design also makes a site more appealing to the majority of users, and encourages visitors to return. See Chapter 10 for more discussion of this topic.
  9. Again, there is some room for discussion here, since Web 2.0 is a loosely defined term. Most commentators agree, though, that Web 2.0 sites should have a rich interactive interface, offering the sort of facilities otherwise found in desktop applications, and that they should encourage user participation and contributions. (Tagging is an example of the sort of participation characteristic of such sites.) Many Web 2.0 sites provide a way of sharing data and allowing other sites to combine it with data from other sources ('mash-ups').

Discussion Topics: Hints and Tips

  1. Does your assessment of a site's reliability include the site's appearance? If so, what are the implications to you as a Web designer? Do you trust the recommendations of friends, or rely on some external source of authority? Are you influenced by the style of language in which the site's content is written?
  2. This is an important current topic. Start by looking at what ISO have to say about standards in general, then look find out more about W3C's activities.
  3. A possible starting point for this would be to look at the facilities provided by systems such as Movable Type and WordPress for preventing abuse.
  4. Think about how your answer might be different if you lived in the USA, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Norway, Poland, Turkey, and so on.
  5. This might turn out to be an important question, because W3C is spending a lot of time and effort promoting the Semantic Web, and for the most part, the rest of the world is not taking any notice. This is diminishing the authority of W3C, which will have consequences for the way in which Web designers look at their standards in the future.

Practical Tasks: Hints and Tips

  1. We suggest this exercise as a way of helping you stand back and consider the Web and the way it is used as a subject of study and something you will need to understand, instead of just something you use every day. It would be instructive to compare your behaviour patterns as revealed in this diary with those of other students. If you find that you only visit a limited number of sites and only use the Web in a few ways, try to become more adventurous and discover more of what's out there.
  2. One thing you might do is look up 'search engine performance' on Google, and see what others are saying. Note also that the search engines are continually being refined, so what is true one year may not be true the next.
  3. Information on obtaining the most current version of Lynx is available via Lynx links.
  4. One interesting variation on this is to go to the sites of large international organizations and, either by modifying the URL (e.g. amazon.com -> amazon.de, amazon.fr,...) or using the pop-up menu that many sites provide to switch location, visit the equivalent site in a different language, and see what changes, what stays the same, what is recognizable, etc.