Choosing a Web Designer

So you want to hire a person to build your company's web site? Here are some suggested interview questions.

Questions to ask:

  1. What assumptions do you make about screen size? About window size? Why?
  2. Do you feel hamstrung by the non-dithering color palette? If yes, why? If no, why not?
  3. How do you determine when to use frames? What <noframes> content do you put in a frames document?
  4. What attributes do you always include in your image tags? Why are they important?
  5. (Trick question) Do you use Numeric Character References such as &#151;? What are your reasons?
  6. How do you ensure that your HTML is valid?
  7. Do/would you use Java applets? What do/would you use them for? What do/would you not? Why?
  8. Do you use JavaScript? What do you use it for? What do you not use it for? Why?
  9. Compare server-side and client-side scripting. Pros and cons of each?
  10. What is CSS?
  11. Do you use background images? If so, do you specify a background color as well? Why?
  12. How do you break a long URL to fit into a narrow space?
  13. (Philosophy question) What is the purpose of a web page?
  14. (Trick question) For mass market penetration, what browsers do you design for?
  15. Do Windows 95 and NT support the full .html filename extension?
  16. (History question) Who is Tim Berners-Lee?
  17. To what extent do you use graphic images? To how many K do you limit the total graphics on a page?
  18. (Philosophy question) How do you aid navigation?
  19. How are your spelling and grammar? Are your pages grammatically correct?
Good Answers Bad Answers
1. None; screen size is irrelevant. A window might be 1000 pixels wide or it might be 400 pixels wide. Every user has his or her own preferences, and HTML was designed to be device independent. 1. 800x600 (or 640x480). Maximized. That's how Windows users see things; other platforms will soon disappear anyway.
2. No, although it is lacking in the 'shades of grey' department. Even so, as Frank Lloyd Wright said, "Limitations are an architect's best friend," and I can make 216 colors look good.2 a. No, cuz I don't know what it is. b. No, because I don't care about that; people should just upgrade their systems. c. Yes, because 216 colors are ugly and just not enough to help me pad my portfolio.
3. I only use frames if the content requires it, and only for a small section of a site. I include <noframes> content to allow Lynx users full and easy access.3. I use frames when I think it would be convenient. For <noframes> I put "Upgrade your browser."
4. I always include height, width, and alt attributes; height/width is needed for reading text while images are loading, and alt text is needed for Lynx and for when images have not [yet] loaded.4. What are attributes? I just drop the images into PageMill.
5. I never use NCRs in the #127-159 range, because they are invalid and do not exist. RFC 1866 defines 127-159 as unused.5. Sure -- gotta have em dashes! Looks fine in Windows.
6 a. I proofread the source code myself. b. I run it through the webtechs validator or gerald's kgv and edit as needed. c. My editor validates it using an HTML DTD.6. I preview the page in Netscape.
7. I would use Java for its strengths, such as database access.7. Tickertape applets really spice up a page, I think.
8. I only use it for non-functional enhancements, since many browsers either don't support it or users have disabled it for various reasons.8 a. I use it for highlighting artwork. b. I use it for providing site navigation.
9. Client-side scripting is faster but is unreliable and has many incompatibilities. Server-side scripting is slower although it is reliable and browser-independent.9. Client-side scripting is faster. What else matters?
10. Cascading Style Sheets allow greater control of visual appearance while retaining functional compatibility with non-CSS browsers.10. Oh, that's how you can make cool visual effects.
11. Rarely; and when I do, I always use a background color closely matching the average color of the image, so that text will be readable before the image loads.11. All the time cuz they look neat. I even make them high contrast so they're more noticeable under the text. Background color isn't needed when using an image cuz the image takes its place.
12. Surround the URL with <nobr> and </nobr>, and use <wbr> at acceptable break points within it.12. Put a <br> at the places you want it to break.
13 a. To provide and/or receive information and data. b. To facilitate communication. c. Customer service. d. Point of sale. e. All of the above.13 a. To advertise. b. To win awards. c. To out-dazzle other pages.
14. Any and all browsers. My pages are fully functional in Lynx, and still take advantage of GUI niceties.14. Both of them.
15. Yes; both 95 and NT allow extensions longer than 3 characters.15. Uhh, FrontPage defaults to ".htm" so I just use that.
16. Inventor of the World-Wide Web; he built the prototype using NeXT technology.16. Some British guy in Switzerland.
17. Mostly just title graphics and navigation icons. I try to stay below 15K so they will load quickly even on 9600 baud modems. Time is money for users too.17. I use images everywhere -- headings, subheads, bullets, etc. I only go to 100K per page, cuz some people are still using ancient 28.8 modems.
18 a. Text-based site maps. b. HotSauce fly-throughs. c. "You are here" indicators. d. All of the above.18. I just make a big imagemap of the site.
19. I manually proofread my pages for both spelling and grammar, so yes.19. I use a good spellcheck program, sew yes.


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v1.0© 1997 Walter Ian Kaye <email>