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Though I had some general notions, I did not know exactly where I was going with either the design or all the site organization. For the organization, too much of the content is open ended. Where it looked like and area would only be one page, that would go in the root directory. As soon as it was apparent there would be multiple related pages, they would be made into a new directory.

On the design, I roughed out several pages, using dummy text originally. Initially there were only a few pages and each change I made would be moved to all pages using the text editor, TextPad. For a form or to work out was happening to a table when something wasn't right and it was not obvious what the problem was, I would open the page in Dreamweaver to see what it showed me about the page structure. Both TextPad and Dreamweaver detect changes to a file they have open by outside sources making it very easy to work in both products at the same time. When I saved changes in one product, I would simply accept the default and have the new page loaded into the other development tool.

For each feature, I would make changes as they seemed appropriate to the page I was working on. As the number of pages grew, I would only put the new changes into other pages in the same area. For example, I made many minor adjustments to the Search form and the Site Map. I limited these changes to the Home Page and the About Us section.

I had considered doing a script early that would standardize pages and automatically change standard page elements as the site evolved. I decided that it would be too confining to do such a script early as I am still not sure what will be standard throughout the site and what will vary from area to area or page to page. If a script were done too early, the changes that I made would tend to be limited to those that are easy to program. I decided to keep the updating manual and free until I was quite confidant of the whole site design. For example, if I scripted the standardization up front, I would probably have made all the links in the part of the site map that represented the current area a different color than the others. From then on, that's how the site would work; once the script was written there would be a strong inclination to work within the confines of what the script could do.

By keeping the design manual in the earl stages, I remain free to experiment with different ideas. If they work then I will leave them and try with them for a while. For example, on the site map, I'm experimenting with having the main page for each area, plus the page that you are on highlighted with a different color. If I decide that's what I want then it will be reasonably straight forward to write a script to accomplish this. If it's not easy at least I will know what I'm working towards without compromises. If instead I wrote the script first, then it would be very hard not to compromise on what's easy to program rather than doing everything possible to make the site as good as possible.

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