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Bob Allison's Home Page gives helpful tips and tricks for web masters. "Web page designer Bob Allison provides a compendium of resources and information on creating a Web presence." - InfoWorld

The Web is changing every day. Statistically, Over 60% of all people are using Netscape, and over 80% are using graphical browsers. Most people use the Web a few hours a week, so best be prepared with a respectable online presence.

Most importantly, you need to think about written content and page design before you start putting pages on the Web.

For example, have you considered your site's appearance on both textual and graphical browsers? Put an ALT tag in your IMG line. This way, people using text-based browsers will see something other than [IMAGE], and folks using graphical browsers will see something if the image fails to load.

(Last Updated: Thursday, 26-Oct-95 19:23:34 CDT)

Featured on 404PageFound, which was previously on the Blue and Green
posted by hexaflexagon (35 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
The thing that astonishes me most about the difference in era here is how most of the paragraphs use the full browser width. in 1995 that was probably a Netscape 1.1 window at 800x600, but these days my weak old laptop has a couple thousand pixels on the horizontal. I remember in the early 2000s when I discovered that max-width: 32em; got me roughly 64-character paragraphs, and all of a sudden my text files were legible again!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 1:22 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


Okay more reminiscences:

First, the phrase "web master" always sounded preposterous. The only reason it was there is because of the earlier "postmaster" addresses that were required by RFCs. If you hosted e-mail on the Internet, you had to have an official "postmaster" inbox you responded to so that other "postmasters" could warn you of misconfigurations or ask about lost mail that went through your system.

Second, the phrase "home page" came about because the Web fought in roughly the same space as Gopher. Gopher got there first, and a lot of universities set up trees of information on it. The one thing people used to criticise the Web for was that it had no "top": that is, Gopher had a single landing page from which you travelled down link by link until you found the information you were looking for. I think a lot of the misplaced desire for a rigid ontology that plagued the Semantic Web effort may have had its roots here.

But before browsers added "bookmarks" the answer to "But the Web has no top!" was to say "Well, write yourself a home page and set your browser to go there: then you can keep links to stuff that interests you and maybe share that bibliography with other folks!" It's important to note that it only took a few years before Google finally set up a search engine that worked and people stopped bothering with obsessive link-cataloguing. But also Google made use of these people's efforts by building the early search databases almost exclusively based on the way people linked to things.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 1:31 PM on January 9 [18 favorites]


Oh, god, this ALMOST makes me want to dig up my first page from the Internet Archive. Except I don't want to be humiliated like that...
posted by Samizdata at 1:37 PM on January 9


I miss my geocities pages.
posted by pracowity at 1:37 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


Yes, I STILL remember it's Geocities address...
posted by Samizdata at 1:37 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


The one thing people used to criticise the Web for was that it had no "top": that is, Gopher had a single landing page from which you travelled down link by link until you found the information you were looking for.

Hence "Yet Another Hierarchical Online Oracle!"
posted by thelonius at 1:39 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


> 404PageFound

That site name will never not bother me. The contents are pretty great despite that.
posted by ardgedee at 1:40 PM on January 9


But before browsers added "bookmarks" the answer to "But the Web has no top!" was to say "Well, write yourself a home page and set your browser to go there: then you can keep links to stuff that interests you and maybe share that bibliography with other folks!"
Huh. My first instinct, wherever its genesis, would have been to equate "home page" with "personal website".
posted by inconstant at 1:43 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


The thing that astonishes me most about the difference in era here is how most of the paragraphs use the full browser width.

This is what jumped out immediately to me too. No sidebars or suggested links on the right side! No bars at all! It just flows endlessly across my monitor to where I actually have to move my head to read it.
posted by hexaflexagon at 1:53 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


My first instinct, wherever its genesis, would have been to equate "home page" with "personal website".

But even now, "home page" is the default page for your browser. "Yahoo! is my home page."

For me, a homepage was just a text html file that you could paste links into, and I think "bookmarks" were initially just an automated version of that, a text html file generated by hitting the bookmark button.
posted by straight at 1:53 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Oh, god, this ALMOST makes me want to dig up my first page from the Internet Archive. Except I don't want to be humiliated like that...

Yeah. That turned out to be a huge mistake. Don't do this.

I'm really not sure why, in a later variant of said page, I included some kind of form that would let you choose hamburger toppings, which would be emailed to me, with the promise of "you fill out the from and i send you the file of food," but that was apparently a thing I did, yes. I was thoughtful enough to provide a choice of gif, jpeg, or photoshop formats though.
posted by zachlipton at 1:55 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


The thing that astonishes me most about the difference in era here is how most of the paragraphs use the full browser width.

It just flows endlessly across my monitor to where I actually have to move my head to read it.


In keeping with the original vision for HTML, you should just read the page in a windowed browser sized to make the text comfortably readable for you, rather than having some designer force you to read the text in the format the designer thinks is best for you.
posted by straight at 1:57 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


Huh. If you go to the domain's home page, you'll find a link to an extended paranoid rant about the evils of anti-spam block lists. Which is also a blast from the past.
posted by suetanvil at 1:57 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


The table is in <PRE>, which is appreicated as it would not be readable by crawlers if rendered as an image.

The alt text of the graphical WEB MASTERS heading may lose some points in that regard though.
posted by Artw at 2:10 PM on January 9


max-width: 32em; 
What the hell kind of voodoo nonsense is that?
posted by Artw at 2:12 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


If you would like to make your pages do tricks, such as seaching, guestbooks, random picks, password protection, voting, feedback, and other forms, and if you are one of the more hearty among us, check out these pages for information on CGI, PERL, etc, like:

How to make inventing PHP seem like a good idea.
posted by Artw at 2:14 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


Artw:

It's CSS that I used for ages before modern "vw" and "vh" calculations made responsiveness easy. It just sets the maximum width for a paragraph (or whatever other element you choose) to be the width of 32 'm's. That averages out to somewhere around 65 letters wide in a normal English sentence, and you get a comfortable width.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:21 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I am sometimes still nostalgic for the days where I hand-coded all my websites in Notepad. (I had a copy of Dreamweaver after a bit, but I hated it because it didn't give me as much control as I wanted.)

I am not particularly nostalgic for how those sites looked, however, although I think I did some cool things with my limited skills.

I did learn some CSS because it was helpful for my job to manually adjust a few things, but there was a point where it was like "Why do I need to know how to hard code most of this?" As in, I was never going to build a website from nothing ever again. And that's fine.

A bit different, and really not that complicated, but someone asked me about a year ago if I'd ever installed Wordpress from scratch and I said yes, but I realized they weren't asking if I'd actually installed phpMyAdmin and an SQL database manually, WHICH I HAVE DONE (I think those were the two pieces, anyway. It's been a while). They were just asking if I had, I dunno, clicked some icons on my webhost's control panel and went from there.

(I should learn an actual programming language one day.)
posted by darksong at 3:00 PM on January 9 [7 favorites]


Huh. BigNoseBird and the Bare Bones guide to HTML are still up as well. Oh, for the days of using transparent gifs to control indentation.
posted by korej at 3:19 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


I am sometimes still nostalgic for the days where I hand-coded all my websites in Notepad.

I still do that.
posted by Foosnark at 3:40 PM on January 9 [5 favorites]


I moved to TextEdit.
posted by pompomtom at 4:09 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


jEdit, y’all ...that’s where it’s at!
posted by darkstar at 4:23 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


But even now, "home page" is the default page for your browser. "Yahoo! is my home page."
In the context of "[Name]'s Home Page" or home page design style guides, though? That's not where my mind goes at all.
posted by inconstant at 4:29 PM on January 9


It's CSS that I used for ages

What is this CSS you speak of strange future person? Is it like a FONT tag?
posted by Artw at 4:39 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


Oh, for the days of using transparent gifs to control indentation.

I was like a fucking surgeon with that shit. TBH up until Flexbox I was still bemoaning how much less control the supposedly better ways of floating divs gave me. Flexbox forever*! Fuck float and it's buggy irrationality!

* Until such time that CSS Grid replaces it in my favor and I condemn it as old fashioned garbage.
posted by Artw at 4:41 PM on January 9


Another thing you can do, depending on your goal, is to use the random URL pickers to show you pages you might never see any other way.

Oh man, I miss those. Is there any way to do something similar these days?
posted by designbot at 6:42 PM on January 9 [1 favorite]


Click on one of those “around the web” outbrain sections in a news site?

(Non sarcastic answer is probably the Random Page feature of Wikipedia and then pick an exterior link?)
posted by Artw at 7:01 PM on January 9


Text editor since 1995, currently BBEdit, and I still get annoyed at how crappy auto-generated code looks like when I help edit someone else’s CMS-based site

My skills are rusty by today’s standards but from a 1995 perspective I am a fucking supreme wizard of the future who can do stuff we only dreamed of back then

(Of course the browser capable of rendering my page now also didn’t exist back then either but hey the site degrades pretty gracefully in Lynx still)
posted by caution live frogs at 7:48 PM on January 9


Another thing you can do, depending on your goal, is to use the random URL pickers to show you pages you might never see any other way.

Oh man, I miss those. Is there any way to do something similar these days?


Stumble
still exists.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:14 PM on January 9


This is how I got started, and 20-something years later I’m a professional web services developer. Strangely enough, the person who taught me my first HTML and how to use Lynx was Metafilter’s own mwhybark.
posted by matildaben at 9:04 PM on January 9 [3 favorites]


I think a lot of you internet old-timers would probably enjoy this article about the languages that almost became CSS. (via)
posted by whir at 9:44 PM on January 9 [4 favorites]


I am sometimes still nostalgic for the days where I hand-coded all my websites in Notepad.

I still do that

I moved to TextEdit.


I moved to Emacs. Not for everything, but it turned out to be pretty decent at editing turn-of-the-millennium vintage ColdFusion.
posted by frimble at 10:41 PM on January 9 [2 favorites]


If anyone is genuinely nostalgic for the old ways, you can always sign up for tilde.town (Previously) or its cousins.

I never used Notepad because I was too poor to own a computer capable of running a GUI for most of my years. I tended to use terminal programs to connect to Unix systems from my C64 or later on a cast-off IBM XT clone. I used pico and then vi to do all my editing, and quickly started writing my own macros in M4 to generate pages from templates. Sometimes I'd edit locally in telemate's (my last terminal program) text editor, but most of the time I did everything remotely at 2400bps.

I still have that no-fat architectural aesthetic for Web pages. Even a responsive image-heavy monster like this charity ride page I made is basically just generated from markdown via pandoc and the CSS is under 10k minimised when generated from sass thanks to the low-overhead libraries from the bourbon family. Taking it further, even the printed book is generated from LATEX thanks to Tufte-LATEX!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 12:41 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


This is timely. This page is more or less where my web design skills froze back in the 90s, and I've been much more of a back-end guy (ooh, matron) ever since.

Recently, though, I've been going through one of those online web developer boot camp courses. We're just about to get into CSS and Javascript, and eventually we'll be winding up somewhere around Node.js. With any luck, I can finally bring my skills into a reasonable approximation of the 21st century.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:38 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


Throwback to the days of the webmistress (!)
posted by karmachameleon at 4:54 AM on January 10 [1 favorite]


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