Jump In, The Water’s Fine!

The ACIE Newsletter, November 1998, Vol. 2, No. 1

by Greg Anderson, Technology Coordinator, Adams Spanish Immersion School, St. Paul, Minnesota

The development of a web site to promote your language program can be a daunting project. To most of us, the idea of developing something as technical as a web site seems very scary—what with those http:’s and www’s, all in the HTML language! And wasn’t Java something you used to drink?

At the Adams Spanish Immersion school in St. Paul, we (the Adams technology committee and immersion teachers) decided that we needed a web site to promote the school and answer common questions about our program. The fear of authoring a web site was something that we felt very acutely. In fact, we still haven’t gotten over it completely— there’s so much new to learn every day. However, that does not mean that teachers can’t create simple and effective web pages. Most Internet providers and web browsers today have help to get you started, and many have step-by-step tutors. Just look around a popular search engine page and you will most likely find the topic “building a web site.” In addition, there are many easy-to-use software programs available at very little cost.

The biggest piece of advice that we can give, however, is to have a plan before you start! We found that laying out our plan on paper before even going to the computer was a great time saver. Thus, we knew in advance what had to go where and what had to link to what. It also made us realize beforehand what we might otherwise have forgotten. Additionally, advance planning gave us a good idea of what pictures, textual information, and navigation tools we might need.

Another idea that helped the web site team was to examine web pages that we liked or felt were easy to use. We decided to avoid things (sound, large graphics) that would take a long time to load and concentrate more on clarity and ease of use.

The team also found that a lot of places on the web used “under-construction” signs. We concluded that the process of web site design is always under construction, based on our initial experience alone. As you work on creating your web site, you will reach the point where you want to try something you’ve seen elsewhere or change the content of the page to meet users’ needs better. There is technology available to allow you to make changes easily, any time you like (see resources below). In essence, you will always be “under construction.” With these two things in mind, you should be able to find help in many different places. Most on-line services have links which will assist or even walk you through the process. If your district does not provide space for your web site, many on-line services offer space—some, like Home Work Heaven and Geocities (see below) are advertiser-supported, and cost you nothing!

So if you have a desire to get into the fascinating world of web site design, do a little research, make some plans, and jump in! Although the topic looks deep, you’ll soon be getting along swimmingly, with just a little basic and easily attainable knowledge!


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