Page and Site Design
When a web site has reached a level of closure, or in other when the pages in the web of context and the links in the web of interpretation are in place, it is necessary to step back and view the site as a critic. At this point the student should have received enough instruction to apply to the broader generalizations and classifications of his or her subject to his or her site.
Starting with the introductory page, consider site synthesis or in other words how the information on the site is broken into chunks and rejoined through hyperlinks. Is the information divided up chronologically, thematically, geographically, or some other logical or spatial relationship? Is each chunk an independent unit or does the viewer need to combine the information from two or more pages in order to understand the information? If two pages are dependent, then does the site design reflect the relationship in visual elements like background or in the link structure funneling the viewer from one page to the other? Is the synthesis of the site easily identified by the viewer if it is intended to be?
At both the site and the page level, analyze the various paths through the site created by the link structure. Do the links reflect which pages should be read first or last? Do the links shepherd the browser through the text of the site, or do they function simply as titles on a navigation bar? In the print world, footnotes are examples of text level links, and chapter titles in a table of contents are analogous to the links on a navigation bar. Do any links dead-end the viewer without his or her knowledge?
At the page level, determine which elements of the screen receive the most attention. Are they the features that should catch the viewer's eye? Do they properly reflect the content of the page? For example, an intriguing picture placed as an introduction to 5,000 words of text does not reflect what is primarily on the page.