Web Site Architecture and Design


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Course Description

This course focuses on the construction of a web site. Students will learn how web sites work, and how to design good web sites. Students will be provided with free web space where they can design their own sites. This web space will be available even after the course ends.

The course will not be conducted using an application package to generate pages. Instead, students will be taught how to hand-code the pages. The emphasis is on the use of standard compliant HTML 4.01 and CSS level 2.0. Validity control will be an integral part of the composition process. Students are allowed whatever tool they wish to use to create their sites, but final project sites must be standards compliant.

The course will cover all of HTML, except the following

Thus the course will be limited to static web sites, i.e. that do not change as a response to user interaction.

The course will cover most, but not all of CSS 2 revision 1. At the time of writing, this is a draft W3C recommendation.

In addition, the course will cover extensively cover the issue of web site usability. There will be no special lecture on this topic. Instead, every lecture will contain a usability component that will survey all major contributors to the topic.

Course objectives

After taking this course students


There are no other formal prerequisites for this course. However this course is not suitable for technophobes. Students should be familiar with the World Wide Web, and should be able to use a MS Windows computer, i.e. click on an icon to run a program. Students should also be familiar with basic concepts of computer hardware and software, concepts like files, memory, as well as an understand of the Internet and of client/server architecture. Everything that goes beyond that will be explained in class or by personal tuition from the instructor. No prior knowledge of HTML and CSS is assumed.


Thomas Krichel
Palmer School of Library and Information Science
C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University
720 Northern Boulevard
Brookville, NY 11548–1300
work phone: +1–(516)299–2843

Private contact details may be obtained from the online CV.

Class structure

Each class will have a lengthy presentation by the instructor. For some small part of class time the students will work directly with their computers under the supervision of the instructor. However, give the hefty weight of the class material, students are expected to do much of the work on the web site at home.

Classes will be held in the computing lab of the Palmer School between 12:30 and 16:30. The instructor will be around in the lab from 11:00 and until 17:00 to answer questions and allow the students to work on their web sites under some supervision.

Class details:

0 2004–01–30 introduction to the course
1 2004–02–06 major HTML
2 2004–02–13 major CSS
3 2004–02–20 minor HTML
4 2004–02–27 minor CSS
5 2004–03–05 CSS advanced selectors
6 2004–03–12 http and apache

To print the slides in Microsoft powerpoint, press control-p to print, then under "Print what" choose "Handouts", and under "Color/grayscale" choose "Pure Black and White". You can also use openoffice to print the slides.


As far as the design of web sites is concerned, Krug (2000) and Nielsen (2000) are classic references. Morville and Rosenfeld (2002) is a good book on information architecture. The most relevant contents of all three books will be discussed by the instructor.

The technical specifications of HTML and CSS are on the web. HTML 4.01 is defined in Raggett et al. (1999). CSS level 2 revision 1 is defined in Bos et al. (2003). http is defined in RFC 2616. URLs are defined in RFC 1738, but that definition was updated in RFC 2396. MIME types are documented in IANA 2002. The documentation of apache is online at

If students want a textbook on HTML and CSS, they are spoiled for choice. However, students should be aware that must books teach the loose version of HTML and place much less of an emphasis on stylesheets as the course contents does. This is a LIS-style course with an emphasis on separation of contents and presentation. Castro (2002) is a widely used and reasonably priced book for beginners. Werbach (2002) is a good online source. A book that the instructor likes a lot is Musciano and Kennedy (2002). But it is expensive. A good, though outdated book on CSS is Bos and Lie (1999).


Before each class except the first, there will be a quiz on the issued covered in the previous class. The average of all the quiz results will count for 50% of the assessment. On the second class meeting, the students will hand in a one-page typed statement about the web site that they want to build. This statement should cover both the purpose of the web site and the site's architecture. The assessment of this statement will count for the 10% of the grade.

The remaining 40% will be assessed through the student's ability to build a web site. The site must validate against the strict version of the HTML 4.01 specification. The site must have a style sheet with the main presentational elements. The site should provide an information source about a topic, though it need not to be comprehensive by any means. The informational contents should go beyond simple link collections or path finders. The total amount of information contained should roughly be equivalent to a conventional student essay. The web site will count for 40% of the final grade. It has to be finalized one week after the last class.


Aimee Ackell
Jeri Cohen
SuzieMarie Gregorovius
Bill Molinelli
Mary Szollosi
Michael Tarrant

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