Web Page Design
Comments and Viewpoints
Michael P. Garofalo



            Table of Contents


1.  Content Development Should be the Top Priority

2.  Viewing these Web Pages

3.  Text Should be Easy to Read

4.  Good Organization and Navigation are Important

5.  HTML Coding

6.  Public Service Philosophy

7.  Incremental Improvements

8.  Don't Burden Readers with More Windows

9.  Web Authoring Tools

10.  Why?

11.  Links





1.  Content Should be Improved

My primary focus is to expand, diversify and improve
the content offered at the Spirit of Gardening website. 
More quotations will be added, more original
material added, webliographies and bibliographies
improved, research tools added and improved, and
the organizational structure of the website upgraded
to compliment and enhance the intellectual

I believe that the 15,000+ visitors to this website each
month are primarily interested the literary, mytho-poetic,
aesthetic, psychological and spiritual aspects of gardens,
gardening, and the Green Way.  This website is designed
to satisfy those interests, and provide pleasure, ideas,
and inspiration.   Hopefully, the design, coding and
organization of the web pages will effectively support
those worthwhile interests.


Using brief quotations from copyrighted works is a
widespread and acceptable practice in both print
and web publications.  I try my best to cite the author
of each quotation; and, when known, the bibliographic
reference or URL for the source of the quotation.
It is my hope that that authors/publishers will see a 
positive side to having a brief sample of these original 
thoughts included on a web page devoted to the Green Way.
Also, I hope readers will purchase the publications
of these authors; and, I provide many links to 
Amazon.com for book and media purchasing.


I have also worked to provide original content in my
gardening maxims at Pulling Onions, my short poems
at Cuttings, in my gardening history timeline, and in
my many comprehensive indexes, e.g., haiku poetry.   



2.  Viewing these Web Pages

I preview all web pages, before and after uploading to
my web server, with Microsoft Internet Explorer, version 6.0.26.  
I view the web pages with the IE text size set at "medium," and the 
font style set at "Arial."   I view the web pages on a 16" 
Futura monitor set at a window size of 1024 x 768.

Occasionally, I also preview the web pages using
Netscape Communicator 4.5. 


Different versions of different browsers on different
monitors will display the text on these web pages in
different ways.  Depending upon the browser, commands
for left margins will be followed or not, alignment of
poetic lines will vary, text size, font and color will vary, 
link styles will vary, etc..  These variations in 
display are disconcerting.  CSS can provide some 
attractive solutions for those working with quotes 
and poetry.   


I use Microsoft Front Page 2000 to create all the 
web pages presented at The Spirit of Gardening 
web site.



3.  Text Should be Easy to Read


I use larger type fonts, boldface, and color to enable those
viewing my web pages to easily read the large volume of
text found on the web pages.   Backgrounds are kept plain and
simple.  The contrast between background and text is strong
and clear. 


I avoid using frames because they reduce the space for
reading content, reduce the empty space, create 
distractions for the reader, and display in strange ways
in different browsers.  I like the web page to look and
read more like a page in a book.   Frames can be helpful 
in navigation; however, I prefer the methods described
below to facilitate navigation.    


All text is presented by HTML code, therefore web browser
functions (e.g., Ctrl +]  or  View-Fonts) for selecting and
viewing text in different font sizes or font styles are
accessible to readers.


Larger and varied type is easier for me to read when making
additions and changes to the web pages.  My eyesight is not
getting better, and any advantage in readability of text is
essential for me.  Hopefully, readers will appreciate my
efforts to make the text more readable.  Comments?  


This website features information and ideas in text format.
It provides few graphical or other types of audio-visual files
because the costs for web server bandwidth are prohibitive.
The high volume of file transfers at this website, over
60,000 per month, leads me to favor text files.


In 2003, I plan to make more use of tables and cascading
style sheets to improve the text layout, create more white
space, improve the margins, and enhance readability.  I
will also use some san serif text fonts, and take advantage
of other techniques and tricks to improve the readability
of the text.



4.  Organization and Navigation Are Important

Going to the bottom of any of my web pages (Ctrl+End)
will lead readers to links back to my main index pages:

               Quotes for Gardeners
               Haiku, Zen and Short Poems
               Home Page Quick Index
               Gardening History Timeline Quick Index
               Main Home Page   
               Complete Website Page - Old Version   


These small, quick index web pages can be bookmarked
by readers for rapid access.


Thanks to Atomz, an excellent search engine for my
entire website is available.    This is an outstanding service!

Search the Spirit of Gardening Website

Search Tips and Advanced Atomz Searching

lblw1a.gif (2726 bytes)



Over 900 web sites link to The Spirit of Gardening website.
However, many of my web page hits come from self-referral 
links on my own web pages.  Randomly placed internal 
navigation links, as well as links on the bottom of each page, 
rather than frames with ever present internal links, seems 
to be working quite well for this website.   Comments?


Using the Back, Forward, and Reload buttons on the browser
helps with navigating this website.  Scrolling is nowadays very easy
using the keyboard or mouse.  I favor many keyboard commands
to navigate websites, and my design style reflects this


Many users forget to use the browser Find function (Ctrl+F)
to find specific text on a web page.  Ctrl-End to go to the
end of document; and Ctrl-Home to the top.  [Readers can
tell I've been making talk with a keyboard on the Net
since the DOS and UNIX days ... nevertheless, I confess,
the scrolling wheel on the mouse is worth a 




5.  HTML Code is the First Choice


Simple HTML code loads fast, works in all types and generations
of web browsers, keeps system crashes to a minimum, and
does not make great demands on client hardware.  Fewer and
smaller graphics files help keep the web server costs down:
and, contribute to faster download times for viewers.  Since
nearly all of the content at this website is text, simple
HTML works best for most visitors.


I know very little about Java Scripts, CGI, Dynamic HTML,
frames, themes, Flash, VB Scripts, ActiveX,
Shockwave, and the other sophisticated layout,
interactive and graphical arts design techniques.   
In 2002,  I intend to advance my knowledge in these
areas; but, I expect that I will not stray far from
basic HTML.  My main interests and expertise are
in content development and indexing; not in web
design and programming.   Comments?



6.  Public Service Philosophy


I welcome the comments, suggestions, ideas, and
contributions from readers.  I do answer all the
e-mail sent to me.   

Like most authors and web designers, I appreciate
the positive reviews, awards, and encouraging feedback
from readers around the world.   Thank you!!

Website managers need to pay very close attention to the
statistical reports provided by your web host.  They need to
carefully study these reports on a regular basis.  What webpages
refer readers to your website?  What webpages at the site are
the most popular?   How is the volume of business changing 
over time?  How do the use of graphics files compare to the use
of content webpages?  What kind of terms used in search engine
searches bring readers to your website?  How does the volume of
business change during the year?   The answer to these questions
will help you, in part, determine what type of webpages to create
and how to set up the navigation at your website.  


At present, The Spirit of Gardening web site does
not have any commercial advertising.   I tried affiliate 
advertising in 2000, but found that the substantial 
extra work produced little or no financial reward.   I do
provide links for book purchasing via Amazon.com 
for the convenience of my readers.  I will put relevant
and decent commercial advertising on one of my web
pages for a flat annual fee.   


At present, there are no foundation grants or 
commercial sponsors that have helped with the
production, development, or distribution expenses
at this popular web site.   The search engine to this
website provided by Atomz is a fine free public service 
provided by this company.  


Aside from the personal time spent on "a labor of love,"
web publishing is expensive.   Even in northern
California it will cost you $900 a year to maintain
a computer and software, have a telephone line, 
modem on to the Internet, browse the WWW, 
communicate by  e-mail, chat, FTP, maintain a 
WWW domain name, and have your ISP distribute 
your webpages to readers around the world 24/7.  
An expensive virtual reality adventure - worth
every dollar.   





7.  Incremental Improvements Are a Goal

Comments to follow later.



8.  Don't Burden Readers With More Windows

This website does not force clients to open up two or three
browsers to view hyperlinks to other websites or to
view new web pages from this website. 

Readers should make use of the Back button on their
browser to get back to my web page, or bookmark one
of my quick indexes

Using this website does not cause the appearance of
numerous pop up windows that detract from the
reading experience.

Users of this website will not be surprised by misleading
links that result in pop-up of ads or banners, or whoosh
you away to places you never intended to visit.

Generally, I avoid using frames, sidebars, or banners
because they reduce the space for text display,
reduce the empty space on a page, create clutter and
distractions for the reader, use more bandwidth, take 
longer to load, display in strange ways in different
browsers, and sometimes lock up browser software.



9.  Web Page Authoring Tools


I now use Microsoft Front Page 2000 to design the
web pages at the Spirit of Gardening website.  I first
used Hot Metal Pro to author web pages from 1995-1997.  
I used Front Page 98 from 1998-2001.


Starting in the Spring of 2002, I began to learn to use
the Macromedia software products:  Dreamweaver 4,
Fireworks 4, Flash MX, and FreeHand 10.  I use a Sony
home computer running on Windows XP.  


I preview and review the look and functionality of all my
web pages.  I view my web pages in the Microsoft Internet 
Explorer 6.0.26 and Netscape Communicator 4.5 web 


My web service provider is Radiant Communications
(formerly Top Choice Systems).  I have used their
Business Package (UNIX) service since January, 1999. 
I am satisfied with the performance of this web host. 


For e-mail, I use Microsoft Outlook Express 6.0.  It seems
to work best with Windows XP.  I used Eudora Pro 3.0 e-mail 
software for many years, and was very satisfied with its 
performance, but it does not work properly with Windows
XP.   As a webpage designer, you will need to use a full featured
e-mail program to manage your increased correspondence.   



10.  Why?

I've been actively using the Internet since 1993.
I started with a dial-up UNIX account from netcom.com in 
Pasadena, i.e., viaverde@ix.netcom.com (Green Way).  My 
wife, Blanca, and I (MB&P) started one of our first successful 
website domains in 1995, www.viaverde.com.  This website, 
, began in January of 1999.


I like to sit and use computer software, listen to A Kind of Blue
daydream, chat with people, share stuff,
indulge in reading, relax, take notes 
and dawdle.  


I do very much enjoy gardening and now live on a five
acre parcel on the North Sacramento Valley, California.
My Red Bluff Notebooks provide more details, including
pictures, about my gardening interests.  


Unquestionably, this activity is a form of vanity or 
hobbist publishing.  And, another nice way for a
vain old gardener to take a break and read, 
out of the Red Bluff sunshine. 



11.  Web Design Tips on the Net

         Web Design Tips from Colin Mackenzie

         Alertbox Articles by Jakob Nielsen


         Builder.com  (CNET)

         What is good hypertext?   










Your Comments, Suggestions and Ideas are Welcome

December 3, 2002


Haiku, Zen, and Short Poems

Quotes for Gardeners

The Spirit of Gardening