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2.2 Articulating Your Message

1.0 Welcome! 2.1.0 Your Web Site, Unplugged
2.2.1 Purpose
2.2.1a Audience
2.2.1b Scope, Scale, Schedule
2.2.2 Mapping a Structure
2.2.3 Multimedia Options
2.2.4 Style
2.2.5 Mechanics
2.0 Envisioning Your Web Presence
3.0 Shaping the Pieces
4.0 Finishing Touches
Index of Terms and Resources
Feedback

Ideally, your web presentation or "message" will meet these criteria:


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2.2.1 Purpose

Sounds obvious, right? Of course you should have a purpose before you start cranking out HTML documents. Even if you have a pretty good idea about what you'll put in your page, this brief checklist might help you refine your dream.

2.2.1a Audience

2.2.1b Scope, Scale, Schedule

Remember that in the expanses of the web, size ain't everything: it's better to create one perfect 30K document that people will visit again and again than to sprawl across lots of virtual real estate with mediocre work.

Fortunately, since the web is fairly cooperative, you don't have to do everything yourself. Instead, you can find people doing similar work, and create virtual communities where different web creators do what they're best at, and everyone benefits.


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2.2.2 Mapping a Structure

Organizing, as the name suggests, means evolving different organs, or functioning parts, for a body of material.

  1. Generate: Tapping All Your Ideas
    In order to begin organizing, you need to have a working idea of all the elements you're going to include.

  2. Cluster: Sorting by Function
    Once you're done generating content, you may want to draw a bubble diagram or some sort of outline or map. Any format will work, as long as you include all your content, and indicate somehow (perhaps with a line or arrow, a color code, or category) the relationships between each piece. The organs of your page will develop from these clusters of related material.

  3. Sequence: Putting Information into Orbit
    First and last impressions are powerful. Persuasive speakers sequence their ideas for maximum effect by burying the weak thoughts and ugly infrastructure in the middle, and placing their soundest points where you'll remember them, at the opening and conclusion, while print journalists, to best compete for scarce attention, summarize the most important facts right at the top of a column.
    The web offers three (maybe even four) virtual dimensions, and the possibility of "layered" or "orbiting" content. Your purpose will determine what kind of space you create: if you're writing a step-by-step "how-to" manual, you may only make minor changes to traditional linear and hierarchical models, but if you're building a virtual aquarium, you may discard those models entirely and instead decide on a matrix of "reefs" and "caves" with different sights and sounds in each one.
    Whichever model you choose,

  4. Connect: Getting Hyper
    Once you've spelled out the relationships between your pieces of content, decide exactly where the links will go, and whether an index page will introduce the audience to several disparate linked documents or just several named sections within the document.


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2.2.3 Multimedia Options


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2.2.4 Style

Also consult our maximizing meaning page, or one of these excellent guides:

Editing Resources
The Web
Designer
Online English Grammar The Yale
C/AIM WWW
Style Manual


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2.2.5 Mechanics and Maintenance


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