2       The Face Of Your Site

In the three years that I had my own site on GeoCities, I changed the layout dozens of times. All that is perfectly ok, but I found that the ways I interacted played a huge part in how I wanted it to look. That sounds a lot like usability testing, but I am not going down that road yet.

I have tried flash layouts, frames, tables and layers in the hope that I would stick to a particular design. I have found that working with layers is the best way for me as I can use CSS to define the location and other style properties of items on the page.

My different layouts ALL had pros and cons to them, which I´d like to talk about here now.

The first layout consisted of only Macromedia Flash. Straight away I hear alarm bells ringing because some search engines will not pick up on Flash-only sites. I had a very curvy design for it. Later I gave the main menu the drag ability, so it could be moved around within the Flash movie. All this happened between March 2006 and December 2006.

Soon I started to listen to Boagworld.com´s podcasts, and listening to ´The Great Flash Debate´, I finally was persuaded that I should have a HTML alternative. I think that having Flash is good as most browsers/computers support that content, but a Flash-only option is not enough. So I got to work on that straight away.
During my experimenting I used frames for a while, but then I found out that some people turn frames off, thus stopping the site working if you don´t have an alternative layout. I found this a little stupid, but it all made sense. If anyone really prefers a frames layout for their site, (they are not *very* common now) I can say I know how to do them!
Frames are quite useful though as you can fit a lot into them because they will scroll if there is more than a page of text. If you have hundreds and thousands of links then you can get to them easily.

Then I used a table based design and things were much more simple. However you can only really position them in 3 places normally (left, right and centre). Later in 2007 (July/August), I decided to learn a bit of CSS, so that I could colour and position them where I want regardless of the limitations of normal HTML. This again enhanced my knowledge and reading a 400 page book certainly taught me well. I haven´t finished it yet as I have been changing my site too much.
Then I realised something was missing.

Into my life came DIV´s, a layers format, and everything was more user friendly. A DIV can be positioned anywhere you like and can even nest. All my sites are now designed with a DIV layout and I only use tables for things like data that has to be listed a certain way.

If you think this article was interesting or have something to say about it please comment!


  1. Andy Kinsey says:

    eeeee geocities …. i had one of those well no about 4 of those many moons ago… probably 2000/2001 time… i first touched webdesign at high school …. doing bits of the school site (seem to recall the history section at one point)… it was table based, had animated gif’s and mmm yeh i remember it was bright green – i still have the harddrive with it on somewhere!

    anyway i’m not here to tell you my past experience… i will post that on andykinsey.com sometime but not yet 😛

    I am here to comment on the flash debate… and mmm frames…

    FLASH – its simple really, unless you have all the same content elsewhere don’t do it… and if you do have it else where use AJAX or other javascript to make it look nice and do what flash does… drag and drop can be done using jquery and mootools…. there is no need for flash other than video.

    FRAMES – now where to start… normally its flash that will have me up in arms but this time its frames… frames are un-neccsary given ajax / php and css can do the same things…. css overflow:scroll will see both axis scroll/ overflow-y:scroll; overflow-x:none will see vertical scrolling …nice for formatting text! / reverse this and you will get horizontal scrolling … yet to find a use other than image galleries for this.

    with that sorted may i wish you the best in your future designing.

  2. goldy says:

    Geocities is so old now so no wonder they are killing it off. I much prefer this on here tho!
    I like having my own site I can pay for, use FTP, and update pretty much anywhere!

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