Web Sites That Help Build Web Sites
by Yischon Liaw, MD
Fellow in Medical Informatics
Yale University School of Medicine
New Haven, Connecticut
Marjorie Lazoff, MD
Medical Computing Today
accepted for publication in Medical Computing Today January 1998
General Web References -
Internet Software & Tools -
Web Design -
Comments or questions for posting?
General Web Resources
Absolute Reference is a massive list of lists, categorized by topic and covering everything from Web site construction, design, and tools to robots to marketing and advertising. Another excellent resource list is Webreference.com; the authors here thoughtfully star those sites they regard as the best. The Virtual Library of WWW Development is a third "comprehensive encyclopedia of Web technology" but with a more commercial slant. A short descriptive paragraph accompanying each link saves browsing time.
C|net's BUILDER.COM is a solid reference. Its information, although geared toward intermediate and advanced designers, includes tools and software reviews that can be valuable to webmasters at all levels. A reference site with a more techie or technical, no quotes style and Web culture sensibility is HotWired's Webmonkey. The main page, a How-to Guide for Web Junkies, is for intermediate and advanced webmasters, but the Web 101 section is more in tune with novices. (Check out the Web 101 archive for specific articles for beginners.)
Internet Software and Tools
Tucows is the granddaddy site of Internet-related software. Over the years it has developed into an easily navigable, informative, and trusted site, and includes a fairly accurate ratings system, occasional reviews, and convenient links to Web sites and software for downloading. Physicians unfamiliar with the software and who aren't helped by the reviews should be OK with any "five cow" rated software.
ZDNet's software archive gives magazine-style reviews of not only Internet software, but most general software also. (Ziff-Davis, the parent company, publishes numerous computing magazines including Computer Shopper, MacUser, PC Computing, PC Magazine, and Yahoo Internet Life.) There also is some software -- occasionally very useful -- exclusive to the site.
Unless the site and/or graphics are clearly marked as public domain, images may be protected by copyright laws or otherwise restricted by the designer/owner. When in doubt, check with the original owners or source before placing on your Web page.
The Web Developer's Virtual Library's Graphic Tools, Techniques, Examples, and Resources is a good place to start for all things graphical. The Mining Company's Web Clip Art is a newsletter full of advice and links to individual (not public domain) collections.
The Web may be in Technicolor, but only 216 colors are viewable under both Netscape and Explorer. Those with newer browsers should enjoy Dougie's Color Picker, a java-script program that allows users to test various background, text, and link color combinations. The RGB Tool lists all the 6 digit color codes, but be aware not all browsers will display these colors the same.
A directory of general clip art is available at Clip Art Review. All of the images in the collections that are referenced are public domain and may be freely used. As with most things free and/or on the Internet, quality is variable. Beautiful original animated gifs are presented at Tom's Gallery, a German site that showcases Web artists' work in a non-commercial -- and elegant -- environment. Each image is linked to the author's e-mail address or Web site, so it's easy to get permission to use them on your Web site.
For medical clip art, an AltaVista search reveals quite an extensive list of sites. Jerry Mings' Medical Clip Art and DoctorNET's Online Medical Clip Arthave large gif files for free downloading. Ed's Medical Links is a small but nice collection maintained by a pharmacist; see, too, an extensive directory of black-and-white medical gif files.
The Standard MIDI Files on the Net and The Complete MIDI File Directory may not live up to their hyperbolic titles, but both are excellent places to start browsing for a tune; the former site's search engine will locate specific files throughout the Web. Browse through the high quality MIDI and WAV files on The Daily .WAV if you're looking for a type of music, such as a light jazz background. The Ultimate Theme Song MIDI Page contains almost all online television and film themes.
Searching on Yahoo's Sound includes sites with movie sound bites, online Web poem readings, RealAudio resources, and silly sound effects. Yahoo also separately lists MIDI (see archives, too) and WAV files, and more sophisticated formats.
The National Center for Supercomputing Applications at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's A Beginner's Guide to HTML is a Web classic. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for a group of well-regarded Web references. Included in this group is The Center for Advanced Instructional Media at the Yale School of Medicine's Yale Web Style Guide. Arguably the definitive Web style manual, this site is a comprehensive introduction to interface, site, page, graphic, and multimedia design and use. The authors, Patrick Lynch and Sarah Horton, bring their design background sensibilities to the easy-to-read prose.
Another designer, David Siegel, has posted Creating Killer Web Sites, a companion site to his book of the same title. In it he shares some tricks and techniques that allow more control over Web page layout. He describes designing a "third generation Web site" as one that is carefully designed and set as a whole experience, rather than just information that is presented without aforethought. Not unexpectedly, the site itself is an example of a Killer Web Site, as is Project Cool, another well-known site. It includes both reference instructions and examples of well-designed sites.
A relatively slow-loading but highly worthwhile Web page, Art and the Zen of Web Sites, shares conservative, practical design advice from Tony Karp of TLC Systems Corp. As the title suggests, he avoids the Killer Web Site mentality for more gentle musings, some of which extends to other portions of TLC's site.
Siegel also reviews sites on WebMonkey's High Five, an online magazine about dynamic design with interviews, articles, news, and reviews of the best sites on the Web. While the selections and comments can be construed as elitist, they are nonetheless often informative and helpful in more sophisticated designs. Indeed, there are hundreds of Web sites that push the design more than the technological envelope. The Fine Site does so itself as it presents articles for professional Web designers, and its Cyberguide is a wonderful annotated resource of aesthetically-pleasing sites.
For those who learn by negative example, Web Pages that Suck allows you to "learn good design by looking at bad design." Following in style the site's tongue-in-cheek name, the author (Vincent Flanders) shows what not to do when designing a Web page with examples from actual Web sites.
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