April 2001
Issue 4
Volume 6
  One Editor's-Eye View of Web Home Pages
Get a Signature AND a Smile
The ABCs of DVD
Grammar Trap: Shall vs. Will

One Editor's-Eye View of Web Home Pages

A colleague recently asked me to look over and comment on a Web home page he was creating. Afterward, he suggested I should share with you the list of things I check when I'm working on a site. Here it is.

1. Make sure your title describes the site's purpose. "Obvious!" you think. But do a search for "African violets," and you'll find many pages with the simple title "African Violets." Some might better be titled "Growing African Violets" or "Collecting African Violets" or "Buy theBest African Violets Here!" Use words that let your readers know whatthey'll find on your site.

2. Be sure the title is prominent. Look away from the page; then glance back at it. What draws your eye? If the title isn't the first thing, itshould be second only to a graphic that embodies the purpose of the site.

3. If you include a sentence or paragraph that describes the site in more depth, make every word count. On our "Growing African Violets" page, instead of "Find out what you need to know . . . " (where "what you need to know" are really wasted words), say "Find out what varieties grow best in low light, when to fertilize, how to repot . . . "

4. Write subheads that are parallel grammatically and in their content. For instance, on a site called "Raising Perennial Flowers," a list of subheads could include the common names of perennials described on the site (asters, chrysanthemums, daylilies, etc.). You would not add "fertilizers" to that list, because the content isn't parallel.

5. Choose graphics or photos that fit the site's purpose--and think about their psychological effect. If you're selling food, you probably want lots of color. If you're teaching leadership, you probably want bold, clear lines. Ask an honest friend (best of all, an honest friend who's a designer) to look at your page and give you feedback.

6. Don't get too elaborate. Make sure your graphics load quickly so that those of us with 28.8K modems at home don't lose patience waiting for the site to appear. This is especially important with the home page, where people want to get an overview of the site so that they can decide if they want to delve further.

7. Be sure you include the EEO statement if it's an "official" site.

Becky Goetz <goetz@purdue.edu >


Get a Signature AND a Smile

When you feature photos of individuals in your educational materials, whether in print or on the Web, it's advisable to secure permission from the individuals pictured.

You'll find a photo release form you can copy and use on Ag Comm's Web site at: http://www.agcom.purdue.edu/AgCom/emu/PAGE/EMUDIR/GuidePages.pdf/guide.23.pdf

Jane Wolf Brown< brownjw@purdue.edu >


The ABCs of DVD

The question: What can DVD do for you? DVD means digital versatile disc. There are two types of DVDs--DVD ROM and DVD Video. This article answers our question for DVD video.

The Features

The primary advantage of the DVD format is its ability to store large amounts of information. The original DVD format holds seven times the information of a CD-ROM, and newer formats can hold even more. Its capacity for holding large amounts of information makes DVD attractive
for delivering high-quality video content.

Another important advantage is that, unlike a videotape, the DVD can be viewed in a nonlinear, interactive fashion. You can break content up into chapters or chunks, allowing your audience to view segments at their own pace and in any order.

DVD is also a very durable format, great for archiving video. Conventional videotapes are susceptible to tearing, bending, and breaking while simply being played, but DVD has none of these deficits. Conventional VHS tapes have an archival half-life of 10 to 15 years. The DVD format has a projected life span of over 50 years.

And last, DVD players aren't expensive. DVD has been the fastest adopted consumer format, eclipsing the adoption rate of VCRs and CD players, and this quick adoption of the technology has already delivered prices as low as $100 per unit.

What This Means for You

The most common use of the DVD video format is to deliver entertainment, primarily commercial movies, but DVD will soon become a powerful tool for delivering your educational information.

Because DVD can provide information in a CD-like fashion, you can also use menu interfaces. These interfaces could deliver multimedia like still graphics, photos, and text, and also allow the user to jump from chapter to chapter.

One other important advantage is that by using DVD's Multiple Audio Programming feature, you can easily include multiple languages, which would allow you to reach multilingual audiences.

Your Access to DVD Technology

Currently, getting your original video footage to DVD is relatively expensive, but in the future it's expected that simply transferring footage from videotape to DVD will be as easy as "burning" a CD-ROM on your computer today.

More elaborate DVD programming using chapters, menus, and CD-like interactivity will require more sophisticated technology. Software has been developed to create these interactive, media-rich DVD products. To learn more about it, contact me at Ag Comm.

Randy Spears <spears@purdue.edu >


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Grammar Trap: Shall vs. Will

This is kind of complicated. One of the words expresses simple futurity, while the other expresses determination. But which word expresses which meaning depends on whether you're using first person (I, we), on the one hand, or second (you) or third person (it, they), on the other. In the first person, "shall" expresses futurity, and "will" expresses determination.

Examples: I shall do it tomorrow. I will succeed, even if it's the last thing I do.

In the second and third persons, it's the opposite. "Shall" expresses determination, and "will" expresses futurity.

Examples: You shall succeed, even if it's the last thing you do. They will do it tomorrow.

Luckily, this is an anachronistic distinction, one you don't have to worry about unless you really want to. Thanks to Bob Taylor (Ag Economics) for suggesting this topic and to Margaret Hunt (Purdue University Press) for helping to set me straight.

If there's a grammar (or usage) trap you'd like to see discussed, or if you have a tip that will help the rest of us avoid one, please let me know.
Visit ../grammartrap/index.html for past "Grammar Traps."

Laura Hoelscher < lah@purdue.edu>