HTML, short for Hyper Text Markup Language, is the standard coding language used for the creation of web pages. It is utilized as a means to dictate the appearance and structure of a document’s text-based information, as well as to complement said text with images, interactive forms, links and other objects. It provides a basis for embedding scripted code within a document, manipulates the appearance of browsers and cursors and is generally used to present information for viewing on the internet in an organized and user-friendly manner.
A sound knowledge of HTML is a powerful tool for the aspiring web designer, and it’s a relatively easy skill to acquire. However, with great power comes great responsibility. That’s why I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of general guidelines that I had to learn through first-hand experience and experimentation. These will hopefully make your adventures with HTML more productive and educational.
10. Thou shalt not forget thine end tags.
For every beginning, there is an end. This applies to life as well as proper HTML code. Every opening tag is a command that sends a specific piece of information to the browser that is interpreting your code. In order for any command to take effect, a closing tag must be placed at the end of that particular line of code. This was what I learned from years of being with web development companies.
For example, if you would like a certain line of text to be displayed in italics, simply add an lt; i gt; tag before the desired line of text and an lt; /i gt; tag where you want the italic effect to end.
lt; i gt;In your document, this text would be italic. lt; /i gt;
NOTE: I’ve added two extra spaces within my example tags so that they will display properly within the article. When you’re writing your own code, you will NOT add such spaces.
9. Thou shalt not use excessive effects.
There are a number of different effects that can be achieved through the use of HTML, however, very few of them are of any use to anyone who desires a professional appearance for their document. Pop-up windows, cursor effects, background music, scrolling text within the status bar and colorful text effects are only a few of the many effects that can be applied to a document with HTML. If you’re looking to convey your information and be taken seriously, then do yourself a favor and omit the flashy effects.
8. Thou shalt create easy navigation within thine documents.
It’s very easy to throw all of your information into one document and let that be it. Menu bars, however, are one of the most convenient and useful objects you can place into your document to make navigation easier for those who view it. These wonderful links allow you to divide your information into separate categories and create different documents to display it. What’s even better is that once you have the basic template for your page coded, all you have to do is copy and paste the code for your document and replace existing information within the code to create an entirely new page with the same layout.
7. Thou shalt use proper grammar and spelling.
Nothing is more unprofessional than grammatical and spelling errors within your document. The best code in the world will not compensate for content that is presented poorly. If need be, take an extra 30 seconds and run your material through spell check within whatever word processor you like to work with. It’s worth the extra effort.
6. Thou shalt use Meta tags.
So you’ve adhered to the guidelines I’ve listed so far and have coded yourself a presentable, easy-to-navigate and well-coded document that deserves to be promoted. How can you use HTML to do this, you ask? It’s called the meta tag, and it’s a cool way to get your web page submitted to the indexes of popular search engines.
Basically, there are three different types of meta tags.
lt; META name=”resource-type” content=”document” gt;
The only resource in use is “document.” This is the only tag you need to include for indexing purposes.
lt; META name=”description” content=”a description of your page” gt;
With most search engines, this will be displayed along with the title of your document in an index. Content can equal a list of keywords, a sentence or a paragraph to describe your page.
lt; META name=”keywords” content=”a, list, of, keywords” gt;
Select whichever applicable keywords you can think of and list them separated by commas.
5. Thou shalt use Meta tags responsibly.
Do not submit content to search engines that is not actually displayed on your page for the sake of getting more hits when your document is indexed. This practice is commonly referred to as “cloaking,” and it generally looked down upon by your potential viewers.
4. Thou shalt use descriptive Title and Alt tags.
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the “Title” tag is the most important tag you can learn in HTML, but it’s definitely up there. This tag defines the text that will be displayed in the status bar of any browser that views your document. You should title each document according to the content that it displays so as to make navigation simple for your viewers.
“Alt” tags are also useful in the event that your viewers are surfing the web with images disabled within their browsers. Simply add an “Alt” tag within your “Image” tag and write a brief description of the image that is displayed. If a viewer has images turned off, this description will tell them about the image that would be displayed under normal circumstances.
3.Thou shalt go forth, explore the internet and view Source codes.
The best way to further your education with HTML is to open your browser, surf over to the nearest web site you know of with a cool layout or effect that you don’t know how to code and view the source code. Simply check your toolbar for a “View” button and scroll down to “Source” or “View Source.” This will open a Notepad document that will display the very code that makes the page you’re currently viewing possible. Make sure to copy/paste any code that you want to learn about into your own Notepad document and see what it does in an HTML document. This will help you learn things that a common HTML tutorial simply won’t cover.
2. Thou shalt make friends, link to them and ensure such links actually work.
This doesn’t just apply to links that lead to your affiliates. You should check any and all links within your document to make sure that they aren’t broken. Viewers could potentially miss out on entire sections of your content if your links aren’t interconnected as they should be.
Furthermore, once your site is running smoothly you will do well to find other sites of similar content and become affiliates with them. This will give your site more publicity and generally create more hits for everyone. It’s a win-win situation, just make sure your links work!
1. Thou shalt proofread your code.
Like any piece of writing worth publishing, you should not spend your free time coding up an HTML document without taking a spare moment to proofread your work. Check for typographical errors, broken links or tags, missing commas or parenthesis and any other potential mix-ups that could cause problems within your document.
When you save your Notepad document with the .html extension, it is possible to preview it before you actually upload it to a server and make it available on the internet. This will help you locate most problems, as you can determine any discrepancies between the code you typed and the way the document is actually laid out. Be sure to take advantage of this and you’ll likely end up with clean code and a smooth presentation every time.
So, there you have it. This is not a comprehensive guideline or tutorial for HTML, but if you consider these general rules when working up your code then things should move along quite nicely. You’ll likely end up with a product that both you and your viewers will be pleased with, and hopefully learn something new in the process.