How to Get Started with your History Day Website
By Kevin Martin, Curator of Digital Collections at the Hagley Library
Now that you have all your research complete (or near complete), it is time to start building your website. Web development is an incredibly useful skill and the time you spend on your history day site will be a valuable experience.
The amount of planning you do before you start creating content will have a huge impact on the effectiveness of your site. Here are a few pointers on how to begin:
* First things first: Be sure you read the rules, requirements, and guidelines for NHD website entries before you begin planning. If you have any questions ask your teachers or NHD coordinator.
* We all have favorite websites. Take a look at some of your favorite sites and pay attention to their organization and layout. Ask yourself: What do I like about this site? Is it easy to find what I am looking for? What is confusing or unclear? The insight you will gather by asking yourself these questions will give you ideas on how you will create your site. Select elements of other sites that you like best and use them.
* Think about your topic and consider how you might divide parts of your research into sub-topics. For example, if you are doing the life of Charles Lindbergh, you might want to think about his life story and divide it into topics. Some of these topics might include: Early Life, Learning to Fly, Flight across the Atlantic, Life as Famous Pilot, and Political Life. Once you have these topics you can begin building your web content around each of them. The topics used to create the content for your site could serve as links that users will click when they reach your homepage.
* Before you start building your website, create a site plan. Think about how many pages you will need for your site. Create a summary of the content for each page. What are you going to write about on each of your pages? What images are you going to use and where are you going to use them? What other media will be included (videos, animation, etc.) and where will they be used? It is important to have site plan before you begin creating the site.
* Finally, now that all of your content is in order. Create a template or a frame for each of your pages. All websites have three major components: a banner with the title of the site, a navigation with links to each section of the site, and the content for each page. Once you have the template for your page, the only thing you will need to change is the content for each page. The banner and the navigation will remain the same for all pages. Take a look at the deisign of other sites for ideas.
If you are having trouble building your site, ask questions. Many people you know probably have experience creating websites. Ask your parents, teachers, older brothers and sisters, or your friends for help. Their are many different kinds of software and online tools to use for creating a site. Be sure to find the one that will work best for you.
Most important advice of all: Have Fun! Building a website isn’t easy but it is a great skill to learn. When you finish your site you will have a wonderful example of your work that you can share with your friends and family.
Many thanks to Kevin for taking the time to write about creating a web-site. Kevin judged NHD in Delaware web-sites last year and will be back again this April. If you would like to check out his blog is is: www.hagley.org/library.
If you’re interested in more about web-sites, also consider reading this post from National History Day in New York. http://historydayguy.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/so-you-want-to-make-a-web-site/