This document provides a basic introduction to developing for the Web at UNC. We have organized the document into different sections covering different aspects of Web development.
Accessibility and Usability
When doing much of anything with the Web, it is important to keep in mind some basic tenets of accessibility and usability. What do we mean by those terms? In the W3C’s Introduction to Web Accessibility document, it says “Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web.” Jakob Nielsen defines usability as “a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use.” Both documents provide excellent starting places for understanding the importance of accessibility and usability to Web design.
Jakob Nielsen’s useit.com is an excellent resource on the topic of usability. Particularly helpful articles from this site include Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design and Top Ten Guidelines for Homepage Usability.
Web Accessibility Initiative
The W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is home to most of the standards related to accessibility. Much of the information here can be very technical, but the Introduction to Web Accessibility and the Quick Tips to Make Accessible Web Sites are good places to start.
There is a computer lab in the R.B. House Undergraduate Library that has software for the visually impaired available for use. Using a screenreader such as JAWS can be a helpful experience in understanding how your page will be accessed by users with disabilities.
Web Design and Development
This section is intended to provide a starting point for Web design and Web development at UNC. The links here cover topics such as HTML, CSS and PHP.
The Wikipedia topic on XHTML gives an overview of what it is, who is responsible for it and some of its history. This isn’t strictly speaking a tutorial, but it is useful background information.
Understanding how to properly use floats when working with CSS is an important skill that every Web designer should have. With the basics of CSS under your belt, Web Design 101: Floats explains in detail how to get the most out of the float property.
Digital Web Magazine has a number of articles on the topic of graphic design.
For more specific information on using HTML forms and mailforms at UNC see Web Authoring: Forms and Counters with Mailform.
One of the more widely used Web design tools is Dreamweaver. Smashing Magazine has a long list of tutorials on using Dreamweaver which you may find useful. In addition, the Dreamweaver Support Center is a good place to go for specific problems you may be having.
Photoshop and Illustrator
If you are going to be doing much image editing for your Web pages, you will probably be using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. Planet Photoshop and Smashing Magazine’s list of Photoshop Tutorials are great places to start for Photoshop. For Illustrator, look at Smashing Magazine’s list of Illustrator Tutorials.
Part of making sure your Web sites are designed well is making sure they follow the relevant standards. The W3C’s Markup Validation Service and CSS Validation Service are indispensable in this regard.
Groups at UNC
The UNC Webmasters, Carolina Technology Consultants and Carolina Adobe User Group are good ways of figuring out what other Web designers are doing on campus and for getting answers to questions specific to Web design at UNC.
Other Local Groups
Professional Web development is available from multiple departments on campus. To learn more about what is offered visit the following sites:
- UNC Design Services
- ITS Web Services
- UNC School of Medicine Web Design and Development
- OASIS Content Management Service
Once you’ve built your Web page you will want somewhere to put it. This section covers what you need to know about getting your pages onto the UNC server. Before you start, take a minute to familiarize yourself with the basics of this service.
Your pages will be stored in AFS space. Although you don’t need to be an expert on AFS, you should have an idea of what it is and what you can do with it. The Introduction to AFS gives you the basics.
For more dynamic Web pages you may wish to use CGI programming. The CGI Access document contains information on setting up your Web space to use CGI.
Course Web Space
In addition to personal space, there is space available for courses and departments. Teaching & Learning’s Managing Course Space document explains how to get and use course Web space.
OpenAFS and SFTP
In order to access your AFS space — which is required to upload pages to the server — you will need either an AFS client or an SFTP program. Both OpenAFS and the SSH/SFTP Secure Shell client can be downloaded from http://shareware.unc.edu. See the OpenAFS client installation guide for information on installing OpenAFS.
If you still have questions try searching the Help site for answers.