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Author Topic: Making websites, for complete beginners  (Read 5385 times)

m_s

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Making websites, for complete beginners
« on: September 30, 2005, 11:44:31 AM »
I'm just starting up a small consultancy, aiming to help people in getting online safely and keeping their information secure and their computers bug-free.  (The background is that I am re-training, and I need to make some money to pay for my course.)  I've just bought a domain name, and I want to get a website up and running in the next month or so.  But I am a complete beginner - I once designed a three-page website as part of my work, using FrontPage, but that was extremely ugly and a little ropey.  Can anyone advise me of (1) any easy-to-understand and straightforward website-making tools (you see, I don't even know the right names!), and (2) any simple course or set of hints and tips I might find online - for design and structure, and then for more esoteric (to me) things like upping ranking on search-engines (I think there's something on this over at lifehacker today, so I'll go check that out next).  Any suggestions much appreciated...

mouser

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Re: Making websites, for complete beginners
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2005, 05:50:55 PM »
someone asked a while ago for some freeware web design tool reviews -
i think it's long overdue that we try to at least have a good thread about designing websites, tools and books.
there has to be some good websites dedicated to beginer website design.
let's try to find some and add alink to the links page as well.

i think big apps like dreamweaver are way overkill.

here is what i have learned about web design:

1) it is EXTREMELY EASY to do the basics - design pages with simple text and graphics, upload pages and files, etc.
people don't realize how easy it is to do the basics, it's no more difficult with some free easy tools to edit a web page just like you are using a word processor.

2) it is EXTREMELY TIME CONSUMING AND FRUSTRATING to make a really nice looking site that uses things like CSS and has custom layout stuff which looks good in different browsers and has lots of content.
people don't realize how time consuming and how much tweaking is required to get some of these more subtle effects to work properly.


Depending on how professional you want the site to look, a good approach might be to try to locate an existing "template", either freee or cheap (there are lots of sites on the web selling millions of website templates).  It will also depend on how many pages you want to link together how many different looks it will have.

btw FontPage seems to get good marks by many reviewers; if you've used it before, FrontPage might really deserve revisiting.

some other piece of advice:
1) i try to avoid all flash menus and weird menus and effects - some people don't like them or won't want to enable those features.
2) keep in mind that people surf the web with diffferent resolutions on their screen; make sure you don't design pages that look good at one resolution but horrible at another.


i'd still love to hear recommendations for free software to work on web design.
a good toolbox would include:
1) web page editor
2) ftp program or even better a smart web page uploader (might be included in #1)
3) web log analyzer

kfitting

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Re: Making websites, for complete beginners
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2005, 06:07:41 PM »
Similar to Frontpage but free: NVU (http://www.nvu.com/).  Frontpage makes some pretty lousy html, though it does seem to be easy to use.  I used AceHTML before (its not WYSIWYG, but it allows easier hand coding).  I havent done any html in awhile though...

Kevin

m_s

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Re: Making websites, for complete beginners
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2005, 02:35:11 PM »
Thanks, kfitting - NVU is great!  I've got a holding page up now, thanks to your help...  Much appreciated.

I've looked at a few templates, seen a few things I like.  Forgive me if this is a really dumb question, but I come across so many sites lately that seem to be built on blog templates - and many of the designs are really nice.  Is this an option - using blogging software and templates to build a website?

Miles

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Re: Making websites, for complete beginners
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2005, 02:58:03 PM »
Anybody have experience of this?
http://www.easygen.com/

Miles

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Re: Making websites, for complete beginners
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2005, 03:00:42 PM »
i should have thought to mention this before.

what you are talking about is referred to as Content Management Systems.

they aren't just blog systems they are more general site-building software (many open source), designed to provide a different way to build more dynamic sites rather than simply editing html manually and uploading it.

my favorite site for info on these (lets you try them all out online):
http://www.opensourcecms.com/

these things take a bit of effort to set up but once set up you and anyone else you want, can edit content online.

most of these software are made for group editing, but some are used simply by one person.

cliff is using a wiki system for one of his freeware sites, maybe he can tell us a little about that, that's another kind of content management system you might consider..

mouser

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Re: Making websites, for complete beginners
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2005, 03:01:44 PM »
easygen looks quite interesting..

Miles

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Re: Making websites, for complete beginners
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2005, 03:48:32 PM »
my favorite site for info on these (lets you try them all out online):
http://www.opensourcecms.com/

Thanks a lot for this, Mouser  :)

Miles

mouser

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Re: Making websites, for complete beginners
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2005, 07:04:36 PM »
another nice page for comparing content management systems: http://www.cmsmatrix.org/

there are some people who visit this forum that use various content management systems (mambo and drupal users here i know), maybe they can share with us their views.

i thought long and hard about using a content management system for DonationCoder.com and played with several.

utlimately i decided against it because i liked the idea of having a complete mirror of the site on my local machine and because i thought that having complete control over the pages was important to me and group editing was not (at least at the moment).  but it was a hard decision.

m_s

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Re: Making websites, for complete beginners
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2005, 06:16:04 AM »
Webgui and Mambo both look really great, but I think (from reading a little of the FAQs) that I'm unlikely to be able to use this kind of setup on the free 50mb of webspace that comes with my broadband account.  So probably I need to find me a host - are there any free hosts that run this kind of system?

mouser

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Re: Making websites, for complete beginners
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2005, 06:52:44 AM »
you might have a hard time finding a free host that will let you run such a system, since it will require things like databases and php, etc.

depending on what you want to do with it and how much bandwidth it's likely to use, we might be able to set it for you here; one of the few things we can do for our members is provide some free web space with full services like php etc.

disk space isn't really the issue, it's more an issue of bandwidth and purpose.  we won't host commercial sites and we can't host huge bandwidth sites, but other stuff we're open to.  you can post more info or email me directly (mouser@donationcoder.com) if you want to talk about it more.

clif_notes

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Re: Making websites, for complete beginners
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2005, 03:04:41 PM »
Stick with NVU.

I know others who are new to web design and the feedback I've gotten from them tells me that this is the way to go. I have two friends already who've decided this tool works well for them.

There's nothing wrong with FrontPage, except for the price, LOL

If you ever run into a bug or have a problem, you can always visit the NVU forum.
http://forum.nvudev.org/

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clif_notes

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Re: Making websites, for complete beginners
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2005, 03:09:53 PM »
so many sites lately that seem to be built on blog templates - and many of the designs are really nice.  Is this an option - using blogging software and templates to build a website?

I've seen some nice freeware for using the blog style. If you really like the blog style, I'd recommend you just start a blog at blogger.com and link to it when you need to, or point your new domain at it. The services at blogger are really great. My friend George has written up some help setting up a blog there.
http://georgeh123.bl...498769893249508.html

He goes into great detail and his blog looks very nice as well.

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