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News & Events

10-03-2001

Clarkson Professor's New Book Teaches People To Design Effective Web Sites

[A photo of Johnson-Eilola for newspaper use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/johndan.jpg]

Johndan Johnson-Eilola, Clarkson University technical communications professor and director of Clarkson’s Eastman Kodak Center for Excellence in Communication, has written a new book on Web design for the average person who wants to design sites that will attract and keep an audience.

Designing Effective Web Sites (ISBN 0-618-07433-3, Houghton Mifflin, 122 pp., $18.36) takes a broad approach in tackling the most crucial issues of Web design: usability, structure and navigation. johndan

The Web is no longer a specialized medium, according to Johnson-Eilola. Many people are now interested in learning how to build professional-looking Web sites, but do not expect to make Web design a career. This slim primer is aimed at that group.

Johnson-Eilola says most books on the subject address design before function — a process that he compares to “writing a novel by designing the cover first.”

Johnson-Eilola points out that the best way to develop a Web site is to begin with looking at how it will be used, and only at the end of the process design the “look”. His book directs readers to first consider the purpose of the Web site and why people would visit it. It also recommends considering how visitors will navigate the site, and what would make them return. The final section of the book covers how to design a page.

“Once you learn those skills, you’re going to be able to do Web site design long-term,” continues Johnson-Eilola. “Even if the technology’s changed, if you have those general abilities to think about the audience and users, you’re going to be able to adapt much more quickly.”

Johnson-Eilola hopes the book will accomplish two goals.

The first goal is to get people to do more on the Web than just surfing or buying. More specifically, he wants them to build Web sites of their own.

“The book should give people confidence in building a Web site, one that’s actually usable. If they want to set up a Web site for their class or for a community agency, this will teach them some of the skills.”

The second goal, says Johnson-Eilola, is to convince people of the importance of communication in general and the Web in particular: “I want to give people who wouldn’t normally specialize in this technology the skills and the confidence to communicate with other people and to participate in putting things on the Web.”

Johnson-Eilola sees a value in expanding the diversity of sites on the Web: “Research has shown that there more people are on the Web, but they’re visiting fewer sites. I want my book to convince people that they have the ability to enrich the number of voices that we have on the Web.”

Designing Effective Web Sites is available for purchase at the University Bookstore in Potsdam and on the Houghton Mifflin Web site at http://www.college.hmco.com.

PHOTO CAPTION: Johndan Johnson-Eilola, professor of technical communications at Clarkson University, has published a book titled Designing Effective Web Sites.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or aharrison@clarkson.edu.]

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