Web Development
Overview One of the primary reasons in designing this web site is to make the United Way GIS project accessible to the public.  Due to the project's  innovative nature and potential for replication, a professional looking web site is essential.  Therefore, much time was spent in designing the site and learning new web authoring techniques.  Specifically, the following three items were the areas of greatest concentration:
  • Use of frames - The split screen of this site is the result of using frames.  Frames allow for a table of contents with embedded links along the left side of this site with the actual content appearing on the right.
  • Image optimization - While most GIS systems can export maps into a web-ready format (e.g. JPEG, GIF), the image file size is often large and potentially cumbersome for web viewing, i.e. the images take too long to load.  Optimizing the images seeks to find a balance between the quality of the image and the file size.
  • Content design - The ultimate purpose of this web site is for public viewing.  Because the subject matter involves the United Way and community development issues, it was desired to have a self-contained site that provides a story-book like presentation that can be followed by anyone regardless of their knowledge of GIS.
Use of Frames This site was designed using Netscape Composer 4.03 which does not allow the developer to make frames.  Therefore, it was necessary to write HTML manually.  While frustrating at first, frames are not that difficult to create.  For a model, go back to the home page and view the source code of that page using your web browser.
Image Optimizing The table below summarizes the file size and time savings obtained by optimizing the images.  There are 15.0 seconds of time savings for the "Both" page of spatial auto-correlation!
File Name
Original Size
Optimized Size
Web Loading
Time Savings
(final load-up time)
County-wide Poor
8 seconds (4.9)
Grand Rapids Poor
11 seconds (8.0)
County-wide Race
7.3 seconds (4.3)
Grand Rapids Race
9.6 seconds (7.0)
Map of Michigan
0.9 seconds (4.4)
Grand Rapids Outline
6.0 seconds (5.1)

Faster page loading is an obvious benefit of the optimization process.  However, image quality has been slightly sacrificed.  The edges of the maps are slightly fuzzy due to this process and may not be the optimal images for printing.