Writing Hypertext

When you are writing for the web, you are writing hypertext. Hypertext means that there are links. Be thinking about how you can take advantage of the interlinked nature of the web as you write. Are you going to break your project up into separate pages? If so, how are you going to link them together?

Site Structure

Unlike other media, hypertext is not necessarily linear. You can organize your project into a page 1, a page 2, etc. (as this project is roughly organized), but you can just as easily organize your project into a hierarchal tree or a non-hierarchal web. The web gives you an incredible amount of flexibility — you could even make links with random destinations that change every time they are clicked.

Outgoing Links (Departure)

There are essentially two kinds of links you can put in your project. Links to other pages of your project, and links to other pages on the rest of the web. You should make it clear to your reader which is which. By clicking on a link, will the reader be taken to another part of your project, or to an eBay auction?

Incoming Links (Arrival)

As with outgoing links, there are two basic types of incoming links. There are links that come from other pages on your site, and links that come from the web at large. In the former case, you know exactly where the reader will be coming from (because you know that pages A, B, and C link to page X). In the latter case, you have no idea where the reader will be coming from. Therefore you should try to make your site easily navigable; a disoriented reader is probably a reader who's not going to stay long.

Hypermedia and Beyond

The web lets you easily juxtapose and combine any visual or aural media (movies, text, graphics, photographs, sounds, etc.), and to add interactivity and mutability to your project. Technologies such as XHTML, CSS, DOM-based scripting, Flash, QuickTime, PHP, and innumerable others make the web one of the most powerful and flexible media ever created. For a brief introduction to XHTML and CSS (the foundation of any good webpage), continue to the next section on web standards.

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