Shapley Design
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  Design Philosophy  

   People are surfing the web on all sorts of machines, so websites should be designed with all users in mind. Unlike some of the designers out there, I don't design web pages for the people with huge screens and high speed connections-- while these are things which are getting more common as time goes by, still, the vast majority of people surfing the web do so on home computers with screens 800 or even just 640 pixels wide, connected to the internet at speeds around 28K baud (even many 57.6K modems really only operate at about half that speed). The two most annoying things when visiting a web page are long load times, and having to scroll horizontally to view the entire page or to reach buttons and controls.

   I feel that the most important part of website design is the organization of the content. Information must be presented clearly, both in the language used and in the visual presentation (typeface, color, etc.). Flashy graphics may look good at a first glance, but poor spelling and bad grammar make a website look cheap and amateurish. The text should be complete, so as not to leave the user wondering about some point. (Unclear or incomplete text leads to lost customers, or at best e-mail requests for further info, which can become time-consuming, and therefore expensive.)

   Navigation must be easy. The visitor shouldn't have to click through several pages, waiting for each to load, to get to a common destination. At the same time, the visitor shouldn't be swamped with a huge number of buttons on the index (home) page.

    As far as programming, the number one thing is that it works. A website shouldn't be platform-dependent or browser-dependent or require that the user have some rare plug-in or know enough to change some setting. Whatever scripts (Javascript or cgi) are used must be unobtrusive to the user, requiring as few button pushes as possible, while providing feedback once the information is submitted. If cookies are disabled and the website requires cookies to operate, the user should be given a message, rather than having the page just fail mysteriously.

   Having the server-side cgi programming done by the same person who's designing the layout and organization of the client-side HTML pages prevents problems resulting from miscommunication and misunderstanding of the site design.