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Andrew Starling

Here are links to most of my professional articles published on the Web. There may be a few missing. The majority of these were written for the Web Developer's Virtual Library and Web Developer's Journal, both of which are owned by internet.com.

Ten Top Sites Compared
As Web design become more of a science and less driven by inspired guesswork, the Web's top sites are converging. Already they share many design features. Through analysing this convergence we can come up with a set of 'best practice' guidelines.

Usability - the Basics
Want to impress your visitors? Forget the fancy graphics and neat technical tricks, just choose the right page width and hyperlink colors.

Usability and Navigation
Ever given up on a site because it's too difficult to get around? It's a silly way to lose visitors. In this article we look at how you can set up internal links so your visitors can move from page to page with ease.

Usability and HTML Forms
Visitors don't enjoy filling out HTML forms. That makes good usability doubly important. Here's a detailed look at forms for e-commerce.

E-commerce and Usability
Ease of use is central to the success of any e-commerce site. You need a shopping cart that mirrors the supermarket experience, and a checkout sequence that keeps the customer in full control of the transaction.

Usability Testing in Practice
If you're interested in Web site usability then it's likely that you've come across the concept of professional usability testing. It's also likely that the practicalities of testing have remained a mystery, because very little has been published about it on the Web - until now.

An Introduction to 3D, X3D and Atmosphere
3D on the Web is one of those technologies that everybody knows will soon be massively successful, but never is. Maybe the introduction of Adobe Atmosphere and the new X3D protocol to replace VRML will be the triggers for a big rise in popularity. But don't hold your breath.

Advanced HTML Tables
If you've been using HTML tables for a while then you'll know they don't always work out as intended. This article investigates some of the bugs that can trip you up, and also looks at advanced uses, including nested tables, colored borders and free-standing panels with text wrapped around.

The Internet and Society
We're all so busy building Internet sites that sometimes it's hard to see the wood for the trees. What effect is our wonderful industry having on society as a whole? Andrew Starling steps back from the oaks and views the forest.

Why The Web Still Isn't Ready For Consumers
Despite early projections, consumers have not been overwhelming e-retailers with business. The questions we need to ask ourselves are why, and is there anything positive we can do to improve the situation?

Who Controls the Internet?
If you've ever been asked this question, you'll know it's a difficult one to answer. The obvious reply is "nobody". Problem is - nobody believes you.

Commercial Overkill
Many sites are cramming more adverts on to their pages and heavily pushing their affiliate programs. The problem is that at some point the law of diminishing returns kicks in.

JavaScript for Non-Programmers
It's possible to use JavaScript in your Web pages without spending months at night-school learning how the language works.

Metatags and Other <head> aches
At the beginning of most HTML pages is a <Head> section, hidden from the user but highly visible to browsers and other bits of Internet machinery such as search engine spiders and caching systems. It's full of meta tags and other sorely-abused bits of HTML.

HTML Special Characters and Browser Compatibility
HTML 4 includes around 250 special characters, or character entities, such as § ± ¶ and ‡. But which ones work in Explorer 5 and Netscape 4, and which ones only show up in IE6 or N6?

ASP using Dreamweaver UltraDev and PWS
Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev is a great tool for creating ASP pages. Combine it with Microsoft Personal Web Server (PWS) and you can check the VB and SQL elements of your ASP work while the pages are still in progress.

More ASP using Dreamweaver UltraDev
A look at linking to detail pages, extracting information from URL strings, the SQL Select statement and neatly displaying the returned data in an HTML table.

Hand-Coded SQL for UltraDev ASP Pages
Although Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev can take you a long way with ASP, if you want to use advanced SQL in your Select statements you'll need to write it yourself. Here are some real- world examples including Iif and Case expressions.

P3P - Platform for Privacy Preferences
P3P is a system for making Web site privacy policies machine-readable. It's been around for a while now and is a W3C recommendation, yet still isn't very popular. Here's a quick introduction.

File Addressing
File addressing is all about filepaths and the way that images and other files are referenced in an HTML document. Here's a quick review of the four main methods of addressing - default, absolute, relative and root.

The IT A-bomb Team
When you create a new Web site, what's your prime audience? People or machines?

Web Site Trends
We all know that Microsoft Internet Explorer is way ahead of Netscape Navigator, but which Web servers are most popular, and what design elements do top Web sites have in common?

Internet Predictions For 2001
Now that January is over and most industry pundits have made their predictions for 2001, Andrew Starling is able to steal their ideas and present them as his own.

Dotcom Bubble - "The Emperor Has No Clothes!"
Expect valuations in ecommerce companies and other consumer business to go down even further. Somebody has noticed the Emperor is nude and the stock market and venture capitalists are no longer prepared to pay for his wardrobe.

MP3 Will Give Streaming a Bloody Nose
Big media companies hope that the free MP3 phenomenon will toddle off into a quiet corner somewhere and die, so they can make money out of streaming audio. No chance. Don't they know the Internet has changed the rules?

One Fat Gecko: Netscape 6
A disparaging view of the first preview version of N6.

The Mad, Mad World of Pixels Per Inch (PPI)
PPI is a measure of resolution for JPEGs, GIFs, and computer monitors. It's not straightforward.

Domain Vacant
(Written at the peak of the Internet boom.) Many of the best domain names belong to speculators. Problem is, most of these names are still standing idle, waiting for a sucker with deep pockets to come along.

Navigation - What's On Your Visitor's Mind?
The Web is packed with opinions on good and bad navigation, along with many pages of guidelines on how to get it right. But let's skip all that and look at one or two original concepts based on the way your visitors think.

The Web Meets TV - It's Tabloid Time
Television and the Web are two media on a collision course. Surely it won't be long before they merge and we see them both on the same screen. Or maybe not.

Of course the Internet will be taxed.
Governments may find themselves losing tax income because of e-commerce. They won't like it.