The Nature of the Medium

The Web is a hypermedia environment.

Hypermedia occurs when multimedia information is structured in a hyperlinked information space. More on this, possibly far too much more, later.

The Web is platform-independent.

Platform independence means that the Web can be accessed by a variety of devices. You do not know how your site will be received, or how it will be rendered. You do know that your potential audience is large and diverse.

Some possible delivery platforms:

  • Internet Explorer 5, on a PC running Windows 95, 98, NT, 2000; or on MacOS X or 9 or 8 or 7
  • Netscape Navigator 4, under Windows, MacOS, Linux, Solaris...
  • Another version of Internet Explorer or Netscape. For example, Windows 95 came with IE3.0, and many technophobic CEOs have never upgraded their browser. Netscape Navigator 6, rewritten from scratch and quite different to Navigator 4, has recently been unleashed.
  • Another PC browser - for example, Opera, iCab, OmniWeb, CyberDog, etc. Another PC operating system - for example, OS2/Warp, BeOS, Linux, *BSD...
  • An internet appliance: WebTV, an AOL/HP Crusoe WebPad, an iOpener, or an Alcatel Webphone. Or an LG web-enabled refrigerator.
  • A mobile phone, via WAP or TCP-IP
  • A palmtop device - PalmOS, WindowsCE or PocketPC, Symbion, EPOC, etc. Running AvantGo, HandWeb, IE for CE etc.
  • A text-only browser such as Lynx, or a screen reader for the visually impaired.
  • Something else.

All of these delivery platforms have different attributes. Screen size and resolution, number of colours, scripting capabilities, browser idiosyncracies. The magic of the web is that it can be accessed on just about anything. Two things allow this to happen:

  1. Open Standards
  2. The separation of Content and Presentation

Both of these are ideals, imperfectly realised but still useful.

Open Standards >>>

Content and Presentation >>>