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Tip 1: See What's Already Out There
One of the most common mistakes made by new web developers is to begin constructing a site without knowing what is already on the web. Just as professors ask their students to conduct a thorough literature search before undertaking a study, web developers should conduct a thorough web search before constructing a site. A careful search of the web has three important benefits. First, it prevents you from reinventing the wheel. Second, it makes you aware of valuable web sites that can be added to yours as links. And third, it gives you ideas that can enhance your own web site.
There are several ways to track down information on the web. One technique is to use a web-based search engine and type in keywords (a search engine is software that searches an index and returns matches). Many search engines allow visitors to limit a search by date and language, view related keywords in a thesaurus, and conduct complex searches with Boolean operators such as and, or, not, and near.
Another way to find information is through a web guide. Unlike a search engine, a web guide is thematically organized by category, and in some cases, visitors can perform keyword searches within specific sections of the guide (e.g., the psychology section). At present, the most popular web guide is Yahoo!
A third way to find information on the web is to crawl along its various strands in spider-like fashion, clicking on links of interest and jumping from site to site. The main trick here -- as with web searching in general -- is to bookmark liberally. A "bookmark" (sometimes also known as a "favorite" or "favorite place") captures the web address of the site you are visiting so that you can return easily at a later time. As a web developer, you may wish to set up bookmark folders on topics such as Web Page Construction, Free Clip Art, Well Designed Sites, Teaching Ideas, and other topics. Then, when you come upon a useful site, you can click on the "Bookmark" or "Favorites" button of your web browser and add the site to a given folder (if you have never set up folders before, click on "help" within your web browser for assistance). By building your own library of bookmarked sites, you will greatly reduce the time needed to develop a web site of your own.