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 continue to be available 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 XHTML 1.0 and CSS level 2.1. 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 passive 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 the issue of web site design. There will be a special lecture on this topic once we have covered the bulk of the technical material.

Course objectives

After taking this course students


There are no other formal prerequisites for this course. However this course is not suitable for computer neophytes or technophobes. Students should be familiar with the Web, and should be able to use a MS Windows computer, e.g. click on an icon to run a program, cut and paste between applications, copy files from one location to another. 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

Classes will be held in computer lab in the Palmer School between 12:00 and 17:00. The instructor will be there shortly after 11:00. 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.

Class details:

0 2005–01–22 introduction to the course and snow
0 2005–01–29 introduction to the Web
1 2005–01–05 major HTML
2 2005–02–12 major CSS
3 2005–02–13 web site assessment
4 2005–02–19 minor HTML and CSS
5 2005–02–26 information architecture, 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 covered in the course.

The technical specifications of HTML and CSS are on the web. XHTML 1.0 is defined in W3C HTML Working Group (2002). To understand it, you need to refer to the definition of HTML 4.01 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).

Mailing list

There is a mailing list for the course at All students are encouraged to subscribe. As a rule, answers to email sent to the instructor will be copied to the list. There are exceptions to this rule


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 XHTML 1.0 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.

Kathleen M. Sheehan
Joely T. Sergi
Richard Brower
Stephanie Lynch-Loscalzo
Kimberly Tiffany
Rose Tummarello
Clara Tran
Mark Sandford
Mary Snellinger
Stephen Anderson
Matt Conway
Bonnie Marie Sauer
Catherine Hoffmann
Adriana Suarez

Valid XHTML 1.0!