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Last post Author Topic: Starting a website; need suggestions.  (Read 33136 times)

superboyac

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Starting a website; need suggestions.
« on: November 05, 2007, 04:52:59 PM »
Hi, my band and I recently talked about making a real website instead of the just the myspace thing.  It would be a good idea to do that since it will be more professional and give our jazz group a more mature look.  So, I'm coming here for some suggestions.

1)  What's a good pay site to reserve some space/bandwidth/address?
I'm pretty convinced that paying for a site is the best idea.  In college and later, I've made a couple of joke sites on free services and everything about it sucks.  It's very true that you get what you pay for.  So, I'm obviously looking for some space to store some music to play on the website, enough bandwidth for the traffic coming through to not be bothered by slow speeds, and a nice address.  Hopefully, it won't cost too much.  I've heard that I can get pretty good service for about $10 a month or less.  But I don't know for sure.

2)Design of the website.
I actually like the Donationcoder design.  What I like about DC is that everything is very clear and easy to navigate.  Mouser, could I maybe copy your design...maybe I'll change the colors to look more jazzy and less software-y.  I don't think we are going to be popular enough to need a forum, but I'm thinking about it anyway if it's not too much maintenance.  If that's the case, I would like to copy DC's forum engine because it is hands-down the best I've seen anywhere.

AS you can tell, I don't have any experience with web design.  The few webpages I've made, I've done with Dreamweaver with a little Photoshop and very minimal code tweaking.  I'm very good with computers and I'm pretty good with learning code if I have to.  But I only want to learn as much as I need to get by because I have to spend my time with other things, preferably.

Do the real web designers use Dreamweaver or similar programs?  Or do you just use text editors?  Or both?

Thanks everyone.

Dormouse

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2007, 06:01:41 PM »
1. Visit WebHostingTalk.com for info.
I can recommend iMountain and ASmallOrange. Reliablesite also seems to have generally good writeups. IMountain and Reliablesite are clusterbased and pretty fast.

2. SMF (this site) is pretty good. Also worth looking at CMS software (eg Joomla, drupal, dragonflycms) rather than just a Forum. Most sites don't need much coding - could just use a CMS. Most hosts have software & templates that you can use instead of Dreamweaver (quite a lot of free alternatives abvailable too). I think it is only worth going down this path if you have time to do the design and are sure that easier options won't suffice.

mouser

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2007, 06:06:38 PM »
I agree you should look into using a cms.  Much much easier to maintain.
Joomla and Drupal both won awards recently and that would be a good way to go, assuming you are sure you don't want to go with a blog-centric site.
« Last Edit: February 12, 2012, 04:27:18 PM by mouser, Reason: WTFCODY site was taken offline »

Veign

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2007, 06:33:23 PM »
From a person that does custom designed websites, my thoughts are you should hire a pro to do it.  You get what you pay for and there is so much more to a design beyond the html code and some colors.  A well designed website can make all the difference in the world when it comes to your image.

The problem I have with CMS systems like Joomla and Drupal, for a novice's, is you end up with a very CMS looking website which IMO doesn't look too good and not unique in any way.  So what you end up needing is a custom design to go over the CMS engine which could cost the same as a custom brochure type website.  What is Joomla or Drupal good for.  Website where content, pages and structure are in a constant flux - and I wouldn't think of a band website is (I see a band website having only a few places where content is changing and structure is relatively static).

To answer one of your questions about what real designers use.  Real, lets replace that with professional, designers use several tools to accomplish the task of the creation of a website.  My main tool is emEditor but use several other applications to complete a website.

tinjaw

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2007, 07:13:21 PM »
From a person that doesn't do custom designed websites, my thoughts are you should hire a pro to do it. However, I know that isn't always an option because of the cost. However, I am sure you have many talents and you might be able to barter your way into a website. Veign can probably tell you some forums visited by competent web designers looking for work. Find the appropriate place on those forums to post and offer up your services and see if you can find a match.

superboyac

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2007, 11:38:22 PM »
Thanks guys!
I don't know what CMS is, but I'm going to research it.

As for hiring a pro, that is probably the best option.  But tinjaw is right, our budget may not allow it.  As it is, we only have a few hundred dollars for the band right now, and the most important thing is buying some recording equipment so we don't have to spend money in the studios so much (which is VERY expensive).

True, veign, the site won't change that much besides maybe the calendar page.

I'm going to check out your suggestions and see what I come with, thanks a lot.

sri

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2007, 11:57:51 PM »
My Recommended Host is DreamHost. Check out http://www.dreamhost.com/hosting.html.

I pay about $4 a month for the following:

# Disk Storage at signup: 200 GB (Automatically Increases Weekly By: 1 GB)
# Monthly Bandwidth at signup 2 TB (Automatically Increases Weekly By: 16 GB)
# MySQL Databases Unlimited
# E-Mail Accounts (POP/IMAP) 3,000
# Shell/FTP Users: 75
# 1 Free Domain registered for an year
# Domains Hosted: Unlimited

I think the current plans will provide you even more. Their uptime is good and as to service, well their wiki is so thorough I never needed to raise a support ticket. Don't forget that there are several $97 coupons floating around. You may want to check my blog posts.

"DC's forum engine because it is hands-down the best I've seen anywhere."

Then I would say you haven't seen enough. IMO, vBulletin is the most featured and best forum script. But of course, it's not free.

If you need help w/ installation of a CMS or blog or forum etc. for your site, feel free to contact me.
<a href="https://sridharkatakam.com">My blog</a>

Renegade

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2007, 01:04:58 AM »
I'll jump in and echo the praise for a good CMS! If you don't use one, you're in for a world of pain that you don't need.

I just found a wonderful quote:

Quote
It's too bad that stupidity isn't painful.


That could just just as easily read:

Quote
It's too bad that not using a CMS isn't physically painful.

:D

There is some small, minor, tiny, insignificant upfront pain when you first use a CMS, but it's nothing compared to the pain of not using one.
Slow Down Music - Where I commit thought crimes...

Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

sri

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2007, 01:23:38 AM »
Speaking of CMS, here's one I discovered recently. It looks simple and ideal for a small site:

http://www.silverstripe.com/
<a href="https://sridharkatakam.com">My blog</a>

nevf

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2007, 04:42:22 AM »
sb, I've been using Dreamweaver for a few years now and before that MS Frontpage. I've recently been seriously looking at CMS's for a number of reasons, including the ability to work on the site, add content etc. without needing any software installed, plus the ability to do this from anywhere there is a Web Browser, plus the ability to allow others to add/edit content.

I've briefly used Drupal in the past, but have settled on ModX, which is much better than any other CMS I've seen for producing sites that don't look like CMS sites. It has some very nice features and does a very good job of separating content from presentation. This makes it easy to use a wide range of freely available templates and even switch templates without affecting your content. I suggest you have a close look at it.
Neville Franks, "Save anything you see on the Web or on your PC" with Surfulater

icekin

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2007, 07:01:05 AM »
I'd strongly recommend Drupal as a CMS for the website. Having used it to build over a dozen sites, I am probably a bit partial, but prior to Drupal I tried everything PHP based ranging from Joomla (called Mambo back then), PHP-Nuke (security disaster), Post Nuke (impossible to follow code), Wordpress (good for blogs and that's about it) and several others (geeklog, mediawiki, plone, xoops, e107 etc.)

Drupal is by far the best in terms of speed, performance and support. User and Developer Documentation is extensive and functionality can be extended using modules. That being said, I have frequently had problems with specific modules (e.g. e-commerce and CCK). I have noticed that the drupal CMS is developed at a much faster rate than the add-on modules, which are mostly developed by different developers. As a result, you tend to have Drupal v.6 being tested in beta at the moment and ready to roll out soon, but several modules not even having reached stable status for Drupal v.5

Thus, if choosing drupal, its best to stick with an older version of drupal that has been around, tested for a while rather than jumping into the new version even though the new one has been declared stable.

As for a host, I use Dreamhost as well and I have 5 sites hosted with them on a single account for $10 a month. Never had problems yet. Their backup feature is also handy when you screw up (like I often do as I tweak too much) ;). It restores all database tables and web server files to the state they were anytime in the last 5 days. Longer backups can be scheduled as well.

Jammo the OrganizedFellow

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2007, 09:54:32 AM »
... The problem I have with CMS systems like Joomla and Drupal, for a novice's, is you end up with a very CMS looking website which IMO doesn't look too good and not unique in any way ...
Which is why I highly recommend ExpressionEngine. I've used the free Core version for a few personal sites, and the paid version ($99) for my own site. Truly awesome capabilities.
Check out their showcase.
I love how 'un-bloggy' most EE sites are! A heck of a learning curve though.

And if you, or a friend, are graphically motivated enough, try one of these services.
You supply them with a graphical layout of what your site should look like, and they code the xhtml/css. I haven't used one of them yet, but plan to for my next site revision.

For hosting, everyone seems to like DreamHost (mentioned above), I've used Site5 for many years now.
As an aspiring web developer/designer, it is a constant struggle to cope with my ADHD + Hypomania/Bipolar Disorder.

The slow growth of my web dev projects is eclipsed by my patience, understanding and desire to learn AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE as I slowly progress.

X_____jamjammo_____

wraith808

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #12 on: November 06, 2007, 10:30:22 AM »
1. When looking for a host, realize that you pay for what you get.  In many cases what you get is a shared server, which means your service quality depends on how much stress everyone is putting on the server.  That said, I've had very good success with servage (servage.net), so would suggest a look.

2. When designing a website, first figure out why you want a website, then what you need to make that a reality.  You might find that you don't need as much as you thought.  I design custom websites also, but I do it on the side, just to build up a portfolio, so its been more important to have stable clients than to make a lot of money.  And when dealing with it from that angle, I can say that most people looking for a website don't need half of what they get when they pay for one.  If you already have a myspace presence, and like how it appears, then if you take the css from that site, apply it to a one page site, then direct them to your myspace page, that would be a good start until you have more funds.  You can also look at simple templates, or simple designers like templatemonster.com and templatetuning.com.  For simple things, their prices are pretty reasonable, and they have a wealth of templates.  There's other sites around too, but when I don't have time to find a graphic designer, I use their services and can say that they are top notch.

In any case, whatever you decide, all the best with your band.  If you need some specific advice, you can pm me and I'll be happy to help.

Veign

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #13 on: November 06, 2007, 10:47:17 AM »
If you already have a myspace presence, and like how it appears

I sure hope not.  MySpace pages are a web designer's nightmare...

Veign

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #14 on: November 06, 2007, 10:50:05 AM »
Veign can probably tell you some forums visited by competent web designers looking for work.

Try:
http://www.designcontest.net/

Basically you run your design as a contest and designers submit custom designs in an attempt to win the contest and the funds you have declared as the prize.

Curt

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #15 on: November 06, 2007, 11:36:19 AM »
I only understood half the words on this thread, but I will like to wish you the best of luck with your band and your music, superboyac!  :up:



In time  you are going to tell us the name the site?  :tellme:

wraith808

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2007, 03:43:22 PM »
If you already have a myspace presence, and like how it appears

I sure hope not.  MySpace pages are a web designer's nightmare...

Not as far as the layout.  But the colours and such are a valid start, and are valid no matter where you port them to.  I've actually done that for others, and been able to approximate the look and feel rather easily.  But to each his own.

kiwi2b

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Re: Starting a wSebsite; need suggestions.
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2007, 03:59:20 PM »
I am in the same situation myself: I need a website, what to do?
If you want a customised site, the rate seems to be $4000 upwards. For people with mid-level skills there is an alternative: CMS style systems. Not easy to use, but not hard either. A few weeks of practice, added to templates available at next to nothing, and you'll have a website that would be way better than what you could afford otherwise.
Some links: http://www.siteground.com/ for hosting and good CMS tutorials. http://www.joomlashack.com/ for templates and a good tutorial book.
I'm not so sure about getting what you pay for, that is paying nothing and getting nothing. I've spent $$$ and used up hours and it seems to me that SuperboyAC could get a decent site for the price by adding some time with a CMS to a template bought off the shelf.
If you don't like what you end up with SuperboyAC, or your band makes it big time, then get some help then ;).

Jammo the OrganizedFellow

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2007, 05:19:07 PM »
Be forewarned, that you run the risk of having a mirror image of someone elses site if you choose to use TemplateMonster, or some similar service. Unless you pay their outrageous fees of a couple thousand dollars to be unique.

This is why I favor the idea of creating some graphic and having it xhtmlized + cssized :)
Unique!

But then again, everyone has their preferred methods, so, to each his/her own.
Best of luck to you!
As an aspiring web developer/designer, it is a constant struggle to cope with my ADHD + Hypomania/Bipolar Disorder.

The slow growth of my web dev projects is eclipsed by my patience, understanding and desire to learn AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE as I slowly progress.

X_____jamjammo_____

Clive

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2007, 04:52:38 AM »
I say "have a go". I had no idea what I was doing, but with help of WYSIWYG editor Nvu/Kompozer, a template from Andreas Viklund, Ask the CSS guy, people at DC & friends I produced thishttp://www.singaporedeep.com.au in less than ten hours (not including research). I would never suggest that I can do better than a professional, but if the budget's tight & you need a presence then have a try yourself.
It just love the way people are so generous here & elsewhere on the net. Thanks everyone.

Dirhael

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2007, 07:15:59 AM »
There are several good suggestions here already, but I just wanted to add a few thoughts as well:

* Think long and hard about the color scheme and contrasts. While a webpage should look good, it needs to be readable first and foremost.
    -- The following 2 tools are something everyone doing some form of web design, novice or not, should have (IMHO): Colour Contrast Analyzer (Freeware) & ColorSchemer Studio (Shareware, $49.99).

* CSS, CSS...and more CSS, coupled with clean proper HTML or xhtml. It makes life much easier later on if you should decide that you want to change something. Nothing is worse than having to edit several dozen HTML files just because you decided to change the background color of a page, when the same could be done with a single line in one file instead. It also cuts down bandwidth consumption considerable if you have a lot of visitors.

* Keep the amount of images and size of said images as low as absolutely possible. Combine smart use of images with CSS and you'll be surprised what you can get away with.

* Do not rely completely on tools like Dreamweaver etc.. WYSIWYG editors can be useful, but they never really give you the end result one might expect without some manual tweaking.

* Do not ever use Flash for navigation...and the same goes for Javascript. Use it if you absolutely feel the need to annoy a large portion of your visitors, but always offer a fallback solution.

* Complete your design and make sure that it displays correctly in a "proper" browser like Opera, Firefox or Konqueror/Safari before you start doing workarounds for Internet Explorer (if you need to). Doing things this way will help ensure that your layout will continue working for years no matter how the development of the browsers themselves progresses.

* Learn to love the W3C markup validator and other services like it.
Registered nurse by day, hobby programmer by night.

Xenonym

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2007, 07:15:10 AM »
i suggest NearlyFreeSpeech.NET http://www.nearlyfreespeech.net for hosting.

You only pay for what you use, very nice compared to paying for something that most of it you won't use.

If you need REALLY HIGH bandwidth and specifications I suggest Mediatemple http://www.mediatemple.com but IMO you don't need that type of power.
The reason I am still inculding this is because i am still a bit confused as to what type of hosting you are looking for.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2007, 07:16:59 AM by Xenonym »

mikiem

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2007, 03:43:46 PM »
1st question superboyac is why you want the web site?  :D

Sounds like a silly question, but unless you sit down with all involved and figure out what you want your site to be, and what you hope to gain from it, almost no matter what you do you'll wind up having problems sooner or later. The more detailed the discussion, the more specific the list you come up with, the better.

If you want to make money from the site, then you want to go for something pretty fluid that you can measure & fine tune for results, with at least the potential of hosting checkout and downloading. If you want something really cool to point fans to, that's something else. If you want to draw a lot of attention to your band, then maybe try to find an up-and-coming designer that will go all out to make a name, and still plan on laying down a lot of cash.  :-\ But without some specific expectations everything proposed will tend to look better than it maybe should before the deal, with buyer's remorse afterwards.

As far as DIY, nothing wrong with that at all as long as you have the time to spend learning, and are not too proud to give it up to a pro if it doesn't work out. There are a lot of pros worth every penny, but a LOT of pro designed web sites that are below entry level design. It's a great equalizer -- folks see so much sh**** design that their standards are lower than ~10 - 13 years ago IMHO. Part of the problem is techies sticking in every new capability because they can -- not because it adds anything to the visitor's experience. And from a DIY perspective, you could always involve your fans, bring them into it along with you submitting designs, graphics, suggestions, whatever... Later on you can always re-vamp using pros.

RE: Tools...
A whole lot of different opinions out there on that, but try to remember that you have to use whatever. If it takes you forever to learn the app, & since after all you may never fire it up after you're site's up, I don't think it makes sense to plunge into the highest priced &/or hardest to use program on the planet. A lot of the simpler apps will let you do what you want, generate CSS for you, and while flexibility might be limited, you can always move up as your skills increase.  And, doesn't hurt to check out the software end of things first off... If you think you'll like the new Microsoft apps for example, you might not want to sign up for Linux hosting, or vice versa.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2007, 03:54:19 PM by mikiem »

superboyac

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #23 on: November 20, 2007, 05:51:30 PM »
mikiem, thanks for the advice.  Honestly, this website is nothing really serious.  We just want to have someplace to call "home" on the web somewhere for our group.  We're not going to be making a lot of money, we might not make any money.  We all have regular, stable jobs and we do this music for the love of it.  This is jazz music, not pop.  We won't really have "fans" as you're probably thinking.  A few people might want to go to the website to see our schedule or to buy our latest album, that's about it.

It's going to be a very simple website, hopefully.  But not stupid simple, there should be some clarity and elegance to it.  Here's a good example of a jazz group website:
http://www.johnpizza...elli.com/go.php?id=1

See?  Nothing fancy.  I just want to have a place for people to go to when they see us play at a coffee shop or restaurant somewhere.

i would like to try css and php.  What's the easiest way to go about it?

suleika

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Re: Starting a website; need suggestions.
« Reply #24 on: November 20, 2007, 07:32:03 PM »
See?  Nothing fancy.  I just want to have a place for people to go to when they see us play at a coffee shop or restaurant somewhere.
i would like to try css and php.  What's the easiest way to go about it?
I suggest you choose a few methods that appeal to you from what you've learnt so far, and then go look for inspiration in what can be made from them (cms's often have links to showcases).  Then pick one or two of them, put up a dummy site or two, and start tweaking.  You'll very soon get a feel for both ends of the experience; the bafflement of the learning curve and the thrill of realising how much you can customise.  Then see how far you get with it and whether you need to look at another method.

I was in your position a few years back, when there was less choice and sophistication in cms.  After playing with mambo for one site, I ended up coding my own two sites; both were loosely based on other sites I had seen.  One was an adaptation of a template from one of those sites where everything is simple and clean and validated.  The other was a loose copy of a non-standard blog, since I liked the proportions and fonts etc.  So have a look at sites you like, and see how they are made.  Firefox extensions are useful for this.  In the end I didn't need to frequently update with anything other than text, and I had no need for fancy stuff, but if you want blog-like entries, latest news, photo galleries or easy embedding and organising of audio, or commercial stuff, a cms will be much easier to update and change.

If you go the static HTML route, you'll enjoy finding out which editing program works best for you.  Even if you go the ready-made route, you will almost certainly need to see what is going on in order to change it, and notepad will just not cut it.  So you'll end up using a text editor or some other tool, and there are plenty around.