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First Decisions

Text or Button Links?

The quickest and easiest way, of course, is to just create HTML hyperlinks throughout your site to link the pages together. When the Internet wasn't yet accessible to the general public, this was almost the only way of surfing through a Web site. Sure, it's functional. But if you expect your Web site to look even remotely attractive to the eye, you definitely need to come up with something better.

Maybe text-only linking is still okay for Web sites that are not accessible to the general public, and that do not have to look nice for their visitors. A big database with articles could be such a site, provided that it is a public site, that not many people access it, and that those people know their way around the site. The only links on such a site could be a "series" number and a link to the actual document. Then again, it's probably still a good idea to make buttons instead of text links; they are a bit easier on the eye, and they make surfing through the site a much nicer experience. Again, if your site is visited frequently by the general public (potential customers?), by employees, or by anyone who has to find information quickly and without a lot of trouble, use buttons instead of text links. It's work, but it makes the Web site a whole lot nicer to look at and navigate through. Another option is to use image maps, which are discussed later on.

HTML or Java?

This is the major question to ask yourself when building your Web site. The other important issues are:

  • Size of your Web site

  • Target audience

  • Maximum loading time (in your opinion)

Generally, the kind of navigation you should use depends on what kind of Web site you are building. You have to decide whether to go for nicer looks and less speed, or faster navigation with a less-attractive design. When you are building a Web site about cartoon characters, you can have a nice interactive Flash menu for your navigation. If you are building a Web site for a law firm, you should go with a straightforward HTML design. Of course, this also depends on the person you are building the Web site for (if not yourself).

Although you see it less and less often, some people still choose to use JavaScript buttons on their Web site. Java is a rather popular programming language that is often used to create Web objects and buttons. I personally find JavaScript buttons incredibly annoying because you can't right-click them to open them in a new window, and because many browsers are still not very compatible with them. I have often seen sites where—without any apparent reason—the buttons will not load at all (Internet Explorer 5.0). When the JavaScript buttons don't show up, you have absolutely no way of getting from one page to another. I do not recommend using JavaScript buttons on any Web site.

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