About the Webpage for Financial Time Series (Stat 434).

Stat 434 Financial Time Series ---

J. Michael Steele

A statistics course
committed to honest data analysis,
focused on mastery of best-practice models,
and obsessed with the dynamics of financial markets

Web Page Design

Pretty Good for a Statistician, Eh?

Posted 21th AUGUST 2006

Many professors idly dream about finding a work study student who will put up and maintain a cool web site for them. This happens from time to time, but it should be classified as a rare event.

Moreover, the few lucky sites that begin that way soon end up covered with cobwebs.

Just as Latex put production of technical papers squarely into the professors' hands, current web tools mean that the only economical --- or efficient --- web plan for professors is for them to do it themselves.

But with Help, Right?

Yes, indeed. It helps to have good software tools. Dreamweaver 8 was used here; tired old Dreamweaver MX 2000 doesn't really work so well with CSS.

More than tools, it pays to have a good place to start.

I worked through a CSS book, and I am glad I did, even though I decided that the site that I was coached to build was too lame to use. This scrap of knowledge helped me to understand the web designs that are available for free on the web. After soul searching, I made my pick --- then started stirring in my modifications.

In fact, this seems to be the way that EVERY web site is built --- except those in CSS books!.

Decision, Decisions ...

A practical model for web designs is " find something that you think will work and go with it."

No doubt the design's irritating features will soon become apparent, but there really is no way to anticipate glitches too far beyond your knowledge horizon.

Still, one can be sure of three classes of concern:

Right now (after using the desing twice), I get a little tired of the small size type and the limited resizing that this design permits. It also imposes strong restrictions on the use of header sizes since these were hard coded into the design. I'll probably do a re-design in 2008.

How Did I Do?

I think the design used here is both pretty and functional. Still, I would like to have better visual cues to signal movement among the pages. One way to give such signals would be to develop variations on the "stacked pounds" image that would change from page to page. Unfortunately, I'm unlikely to find time for that kind of fine tuning.

The CMS of this design is 100% missing. The only semi-clever feature is that there will only be one page that requires regular editing, the 434 Home Page. By using the blog structure with scrolling but no real archiving, I will eventually end up with "one" really big page. It may load slowly, but the logical maintenance should be easy.

The blog structure also facilitates SEO. If students and friends find it useful to link to the course page, then over time the Stat 434 Home Pages will get a decent page rank. Also, it's just in the nature of our course that the blog page will get loaded up with oodles of keywords.

Let me know how this design does --- or does not --- work for you.

Design Links

Design Resources

Posted 21th AUGUST 2006

Open Source Web Designs provides 1600+ designs that you can use freely subject to only the mildest of Open Source agreements.

Here I have used the "Online Business" free web template by davereederdesign.com, to whom I am more than happy to offer a little linking karma.

For the general discussion of web design, ALA (A List Apart) is definitely a class act. These are people who would interest me whatever they were discussing.

For pure bloggerware, WordPress is the open source share leader. I'll probably put to gether a WordPress site one of these days just to see how much a little CMS will help my life.

I'd also like to check out PHP and Ruby on Rails, but, alas --- so few days and so many pumpkins.


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