This document describes the importance of a consistent layout and common technologies used for web sites.

When browsing through the AppLaunch “web” you will notice that every page is made using the same schema (except the documentations which have their own layout): There is a navigation panel on the left, the title is presented as large heading on top of the page, there are some additional icons at the bottom and every page follows the same layout. To sum it up using just one word: The whole web site desing and usage is consistent. This is and important feature of usefull and usable web sites because it improves the user handling your pages; he knows that clicking on a certain link always directs him to a specific location. After browsing through the first sites he will have a clue of your document and navigation structure and understand your information organization. This helps him finding necessary information and the chance that he will bookmark your sites increases notable.

Common server side technologies help you providing a consistent web site layout and navigation. To use this project as example, I use SSI for the whole XHTML skeleton, especially the navigation and the footer. Since many web site hoster do not offer SSI in favour of PHP or Perl you can also use this script languages for including static elements. These programming languages are also necessary for enhanced dynamic content such as gathering information out of databases or computing such data. But a consistent navigation is not the whole secret of a consistent and usable page. Also the layout needs to be consistent. This is the point where CSS help you: You define your style rules only once per project and every page looks like the others! That means that you should use mostly global style “classes” and only very less direct “in place formatting”.

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