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Last post Author Topic: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV  (Read 2695 times)

Asudem

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Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« on: May 01, 2016, 11:02:13 AM »
Greetings all,

So I have taken the plunge to host my own site to beef up my resume, and I've run into a little bit of a problem. I am a coder, and not much of a designer.

Right now, I'm throwing code at my website and seeing what sticks based on my own personal tastes. I could go on Fiverr and get some designs by paying someone else, but honestly that just doesn't feel as personal.

What I'm asking is if there's any rules you guys follow for UX and design as a programmer? Sometimes what makes sense and is logical to us isn't always the case for others, so I'd like to see what kind of feedback I can get here.

Any help is greatly appreciated!  :D
If I do it more than 2 times I want to automate it in C#!

MilesAhead

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2016, 04:57:40 PM »
The dilemma I run into is the desire to try some templates on one hand, and the desire to avoid tools that produce unreadable html on the other.  I am not a web programmer, much less designer.

But one way to get some structure without paying may be to look at some of the free web page editor/designer tools that come with templates.

I have not even installed RocketCake yet.  But the description is intriguing.  It may be worth a look.

But I agree.  Programmers often make lousy "super users."  They tend to see the program from the inside instead of the UI.



Asudem

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2016, 05:08:04 PM »
The dilemma I run into is the desire to try some templates on one hand, and the desire to avoid tools that produce unreadable html on the other.  I am not a web programmer, much less designer.

But one way to get some structure without paying may be to look at some of the free web page editor/designer tools that come with templates.

I have not even installed RocketCake yet.  But the description is intriguing.  It may be worth a look.

But I agree.  Programmers often make lousy "super users."  They tend to see the program from the inside instead of the UI.

Thank you very much for the suggestion, which looks absolutely worth checking out!

Something I discovered this morning is Joomla! which appears to be a pretty elegant solution, however I am dreading setting it up on my amazon cloud server, but if it's really worth a shot it's worth a shot.
If I do it more than 2 times I want to automate it in C#!

MilesAhead

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2016, 05:52:55 PM »
For awhile I was tempted to buy SiteSpinner.  It looks like it can do quite a bit for $50.  Another reason I actually installed it and messed around with it a bit was that the trial only counted the current day against the trial period if you ran the program that day.  IOW, if you don't open it for a week you do not lose a week from the trial.  At least that is how it worked when I tried it.

I never did get going too much with web creation.  I went in the other direction and used Dir2html to generate an index.html file.  :)

Stoic Joker

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2016, 06:38:03 AM »
I have not even installed RocketCake yet.  But the description is intriguing.  It may be worth a look.

Damn, that does look interesting. Especially since my site has been in limbo for the past year (or so...) because I took it down after deciding it was total shit...and can't for the life of me decide what to do with it.

MilesAhead

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2016, 06:50:33 AM »
I have not even installed RocketCake yet.  But the description is intriguing.  It may be worth a look.

Damn, that does look interesting. Especially since my site has been in limbo for the past year (or so...) because I took it down after deciding it was total shit...and can't for the life of me decide what to do with it.

If nothing else, the name is cool.   It is hard not to download it.  :)

Asudem

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2016, 06:31:35 AM »
I still can't find anything solid, and Joomla! is just going to become a moneypit with all it's extensions. Anyone got any more ideas? I don't care if I need to learn a new language, but I'd like something with a little flexibility and something I can build from.
If I do it more than 2 times I want to automate it in C#!

MilesAhead

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2016, 09:34:50 AM »
Something here may give an idea:

https://sourceforge....ects/html-templates/

But if you want to get down to the metal I would find a good html/css forum and pick the brains of the pros there.  If you are willing to do the html and/or css they are willing to help you get around the obstacles.  If you use a design tool then your are pretty much limited to getting help with that one tool.

One of the frustrating bits about going the html and css route is that various browsers have quirks how they interpret the markup.  Most notorious is IE.  Since Microsoft is the 800 LB gorilla you cannot say "IE is non compliant so screw IE" if you are doing web pages for a living.  :)


wraith808

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2016, 02:49:38 PM »
I still can't find anything solid, and Joomla! is just going to become a moneypit with all it's extensions. Anyone got any more ideas? I don't care if I need to learn a new language, but I'd like something with a little flexibility and something I can build from.

I've had this particular dilemma before, and have finally found that there is a reason that wordpress is so popular.  It just works, can be altered pretty easily to be what you want with themes and plugins, and you can get help easily.  I've recently changed to paying for ghost hosting, because wordpress is such a target, and that's the bit you exchange the commonality of it for.

But that would be my suggestion.  Go with something that is easily hackable and widespread.  Especially if it's just for personal use.

Deozaan

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2016, 04:23:23 PM »
I second Wordpress. There are entire marketplaces of themes, many are free, many are not. And if you dig into the source code, you can, of course, customize the look of Wordpress yourself.


Shades

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2016, 05:38:20 PM »
The same can be said for Joomla too...there are many template sites that have both free and commercially licensed templates. I'm much more familiar with Joomla than with other CMS systems, but that doesn't mean much. But with a little digging, you can adjust templates to your hearts content. With a tool called Artisteer it isn't hard to create your own Joomla template, but it ain't free. However, Joomla comes with a standard set of templates, which will show you how templates are structured and you can go ahead with creating new templates in Windows notepad.

Shop plug-ins/mods/extensions for Joomla can cost money, but most have limited free versions. Limits such as amount of products and/or methods of payment, etc. In the Joomla plug-in store, you'll find many commercially licensed plug-ins/mods/extensions, but if you look a bit further there is more than enough free stuff available. It all depends on what you want to do/make available on your own web-site.

But I am sure that the WordPress fans here have multiple examples of such plug-ins/mods/extensions too.

Using XAMPP (or similar tool) you can quickly find out which CMS is for you, or if you want to use a CMS at all.

wraith808

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2016, 12:15:24 AM »
I'm actually not a fan of wordpress, which is the reason when I saw there was an opportunity for hosted Ghost, I took it.  But the reality is, Wordpress dominates the scene, is easily moddable, and has a thriving community.  I tried Joomla and it was just too much, and if I was going to go through that much trouble, I might as well just make my site.

Lintalist

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2016, 08:22:42 AM »
What about static site generators? https://getnikola.com/ (python) or jekyll (ruby) - plenty more here https://www.staticgen.com/

wraith808

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2016, 09:23:52 AM »
What about static site generators? https://getnikola.com/ (python) or jekyll (ruby) - plenty more here https://www.staticgen.com/

I tried those for a while- jekyll and hugo (http://gohugo.io/).  My problems with those was the idiosyncrasies of where everything went.  A DC'er started a course on Hugo, and almost immediately I liked it better than jekyll.  But as time went on, and I wanted to do something that wasn't simple, it still became a nightmare to maintain and generate for changes- at least to me.

Asudem

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2016, 11:44:01 AM »
But if you want to get down to the metal I would find a good html/css forum and pick the brains of the pros there.  If you are willing to do the html and/or css they are willing to help you get around the obstacles.  If you use a design tool then your are pretty much limited to getting help with that one tool.

One of the frustrating bits about going the html and css route is that various browsers have quirks how they interpret the markup.  Most notorious is IE.  Since Microsoft is the 800 LB gorilla you cannot say "IE is non compliant so screw IE" if you are doing web pages for a living.  :)

I'm kind of nervous about jumping into yet another forum. I've got here and StackOverflow (that double edged community though), but my problem isn't really the obstacles. I love the challenge, I just don't know what aesthetics are when it comes to web design.

I am also a stickler when it comes to cross-browser compatibility, but I do have on my site that it is "designed with Firefox in mind".

I've had this particular dilemma before, and have finally found that there is a reason that wordpress is so popular.  It just works, can be altered pretty easily to be what you want with themes and plugins, and you can get help easily.  I've recently changed to paying for ghost hosting, because wordpress is such a target, and that's the bit you exchange the commonality of it for.

But that would be my suggestion.  Go with something that is easily hackable and widespread.  Especially if it's just for personal use.

I dunno. I feel like I want a site and not a blog. I social media enough on my social medias and don't need yet another place to post updates where no one but people who has my resume will read them. Currently my site is in ASP.NET because, well, I am a .NET programmer, but the things you can do with ASP are so limited cosmetically that there's currently only one line of code that uses actual ASP.NET code in the whole friggin site. I do like the idea of a master template though.

I second Wordpress. There are entire marketplaces of themes, many are free, many are not. And if you dig into the source code, you can, of course, customize the look of Wordpress yourself.
I'll give it a shot I guess. I can't knock it until I try it. Joomla! on it's site has this cool "Try your own Joomla! server for 90 minutes" thing which was very useful in my decision to skip Joomla!. Anything like that with WordPress?

What about static site generators? https://getnikola.com/ (python) or jekyll (ruby) - plenty more here https://www.staticgen.com/
After handling my old job's static website for years, I am going to pass on any kind of static website, unless someone can prove to me they don't have to be a huge pain in the butt to update one line of code across all the files/pages.

My problems with those was the idiosyncrasies of where everything went.
This is also one of my many problems with static sites.
If I do it more than 2 times I want to automate it in C#!

wraith808

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2016, 12:08:46 PM »
I feel like I want a site and not a blog.

What's the difference from your perspective?  My resume site is a site- I don't post updates or anything, it's just for information.  But it's built on wordpress.  Wordpress has changed from being a blogging platform a long time ago.

Stoic Joker

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2016, 12:21:17 PM »
Quote from: Lintalist on Today at 09:22:42 AM
What about static site generators? https://getnikola.com/ (python) or jekyll (ruby) - plenty more here https://www.staticgen.com/.
After handling my old job's static website for years, I am going to pass on any kind of static website, unless someone can prove to me they don't have to be a huge pain in the butt to update one line of code across all the files/pages

I had a PHP static page site for years that wasn't an issue to manage, but the site pages consisted of:

<?PHP
InsertHeader("Page title"); // included beginning of body content container
?>

//// Body content went here

<?PHP
InsertFooter(); // included ending of body content container
?>

As a quick-N-dirty framework I thought it worked rather well.

mouser

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2016, 12:23:48 PM »
I think Wordpress would be a pretty good choice.  It would let you focus on writing the content and not have to worry about the rest, with lots of choices for themes.
If you find a good reason to switch after you get started so be it, but without a compelling reason to choose something else, Wordpress is a nice flexible, painless solution.

I think part of the decision comes down to whether you want to have "fun" with your site's content management system and find one that really speaks to your heart -- or whether you want to focus on the content and not devote too much mental energy to the workings of the content management system.  Wordpress is a good choice if you want to get down to the business of making pages and think you might someday decide to write regular blog entries.

Joomla seems like overkill for what you want.

40hz

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2016, 04:24:13 PM »
One tool you might find very useful for evaluating various blog and CMS systems is something made by a company called Softalicious called AMMPS. It's basically a web software stack with their Softalicious installer that lets you quickly install 394 different web apps such as portals, CMS systems, blogging platforms, web discussion forums, wikis, etc. All the majors are there.

I've used it a lot in the past to get something quickly set up for evaluation or prototyping. Highly recommended. And it's free.

as far as doing your own site, the best advice I can offer is put the polish and the pizzaz on the package towards the end. As clean and professional site that is elegant in it's simplicity and clarity trumps an ooo-ah! site 7 days out of 7 IMO. Business buyers want the information quickly. So be a little careful how clever you get in the name of personalization. When in doubt KISS still rules.

Luck!
« Last Edit: May 22, 2016, 04:30:07 PM by 40hz »

Asudem

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2016, 03:06:57 AM »
What's the difference from your perspective?
I feel a blog is a mindless template which creates little to no skill to create by it's user. It's not impressive nor has a "wow" factor but simply exists to be a voice on the internet. A blog is about it's content, not it's design.

I think Wordpress would be a pretty good choice.  It would let you focus on writing the content and not have to worry about the rest, with lots of choices for themes.
But I don't have content to write. I have code examples and programs for download, but who honestly goes through someone's portfolio to read the fine details and not just the bulletpoints? If I can't get their attention with a bullet and a screenshot, then I've already failed in my opinion.

One tool you might find very useful for evaluating various blog and CMS systems is something made by a company called Softalicious called AMMPS. It's basically a web software stack with their Softalicious installer that lets you quickly install 394 different web apps such as portals, CMS systems, blogging platforms, web discussion forums, wikis, etc. All the majors are there.
I'm not seeing ASP.NET nor PostgreSQL in there, both of which I am currently using. On my server.  :(

as far as doing your own site, the best advice I can offer is put the polish and the pizzaz on the package towards the end. As clean and professional site that is elegant in it's simplicity and clarity trumps an ooo-ah! site 7 days out of 7 IMO. Business buyers want the information quickly. So be a little careful how clever you get in the name of personalization. When in doubt KISS still rules.
I do like that advice... but I guess I really need content for my website before I can add this pizzaz. I'm just not sure how to showcase the aspects of what I've done in a career form.
If I do it more than 2 times I want to automate it in C#!

w3bcrawler

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2016, 12:51:53 PM »
Hey Asudem,

sj1k and I have started a programming-related website that runs on WordPress. The URL is http://www.uptone.ca/ .. it's quite simple to set up, there are a metric ton of themes (or you can design your own / have someone else do it, quite a few people make a living off creating WordPress themes), and there are also lots of plugins.

If you're interested in taking a peek at how WordPress themes are made, take a look at https://codex.wordpress.org/Theme_Development

w3bcrawler

[edit: added link to Theme Development in the WordPress Codex]
« Last Edit: May 23, 2016, 06:16:16 PM by w3bcrawler »

wraith808

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2016, 01:31:34 PM »
What's the difference from your perspective?
I feel a blog is a mindless template which creates little to no skill to create by it's user. It's not impressive nor has a "wow" factor but simply exists to be a voice on the internet. A blog is about it's content, not it's design.

That's an incorrect view of wordpress.

A couple of links on just using wordpress to create static sites:

https://www.designwa...-with-optional-blog/

http://www.bloggingt...-for-non-blog-sites/

The theme that I use for my static sites is Divi.

It allows you to build your site using varied included components, custom code, and/or third party components.  I've found it very useful for such- I've not found a site I couldn't create.

Some examples can be found at http://www.elegantthemes.com/showcase/, though there are several examples if you just look for Divi example sites.

But I don't have content to write. I have code examples and programs for download, but who honestly goes through someone's portfolio to read the fine details and not just the bulletpoints? If I can't get their attention with a bullet and a screenshot, then I've already failed in my opinion.

There has to be a certain critical mass around programs IMO.  Just having programs with no descriptions on a site, and nothing around them won't lead to people using them from my experience.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2016, 01:46:37 PM by wraith808 »

40hz

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2016, 06:14:41 PM »
I'm not seeing ASP.NET nor PostgreSQL in there, both of which I am currently using. On my server.

Oh! That's because it's not a Microsoft webstack. It's composed of  Apache Web Server, MySQL, PHP, Perl, Python and SOFTACULOUS. When you mentioned doing a website I forgot there are some people building them on a Microsoft host. My bad.

Still, even with that, you could still use it to get a bunch of different web apps quickly installed and running to see what you think. You could also do some preliminary development work under it, and then migrate many of your files over to your own server if you're running something like Wordpress which isn't to fussy about platform.

IainB

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2016, 10:29:40 PM »
@40hz mentioned wikis (above). There are some quite nice websites that people have built that are basically just wikis. Wikis can be easy to set up and maintain, easy to provide a TOC (Table of Contents), easy to organise and index, and easy for the user to find their way around and read.
A wiki is a kind of PIM (Personal Information Manager). If a programmer kept their notes organised in a wiki in the first place, then it could be relatively simple to publish that as the repository of his/her notes and bits and pieces.
An example of something similar would be the PIM InfoSelect v8, which has the facility for the user to output all or some of its database (as required) to html, for publishing as a working online read-only database. It displayed notes and images just fine and behaved just like the client program in read-only mode. I never used it for that, but I did try it out on a website and it was simplicity itself and looked very professional, though a bit Spartan. I guess that's a potential distraction with blogs and CMSes - you have to start thinking about all the eye candy and touchy-feely stuff - and the actual content comes second.

Asudem

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Re: Designing Personal Sites - Programming POV
« Reply #24 on: May 24, 2016, 01:53:21 AM »
That's an incorrect view of wordpress.

A couple of links on just using wordpress to create static sites:

https://www.designwa...-with-optional-blog/

http://www.bloggingt...-for-non-blog-sites/

The theme that I use for my static sites is Divi.

It allows you to build your site using varied included components, custom code, and/or third party components.  I've found it very useful for such- I've not found a site I couldn't create.

Some examples can be found at http://www.elegantthemes.com/showcase/, though there are several examples if you just look for Divi example sites.
The examples in the showcase are outdated, sadly. The only one I was interested in looking at was this one:


Yet the site itself resembles nothing like that anymore. I will have to consult archive.org for closer inspection.
EDIT: YES! This is so close to what I'm looking for!


But I guess what I'm trying to understand is why create a static site anymore? What is the benefit of non-modular design?

There has to be a certain critical mass around programs IMO.  Just having programs with no descriptions on a site, and nothing around them won't lead to people using them from my experience.
Well, I mean I'd have some sort of text describing the program, but not some kind of instruction manual.

Oh! That's because it's not a Microsoft webstack. It's composed of  Apache Web Server, MySQL, PHP, Perl, Python and SOFTACULOUS. When you mentioned doing a website I forgot there are some people building them on a Microsoft host. My bad.
I'm not married to ASP.NET, but it is appealing to write the site in my native IDE. To be honest I should be learning PHP.

@40hz mentioned wikis (above). There are some quite nice websites that people have built that are basically just wikis. Wikis can be easy to set up and maintain, easy to provide a TOC (Table of Contents), easy to organise and index, and easy for the user to find their way around and read.
I've considered doing it Wiki style, and I have nothing against it. I just wanted to break some molds somehow, and I don't think a wiki would give me the "flair" I'm looking for.

.. it's quite simple to set up, there are a metric ton of themes (or you can design your own / have someone else do it, quite a few people make a living off creating WordPress themes), and there are also lots of plugins.

In my OP I do mention that I could pay someone to design my site, but I would know deep down in my heart it's not my site. I will give wordpress an honest to goodness shot somehow, maybe find a nice EC2 I can pay for a few days and if I like it transfer it onto my main server and get rid of my Azure altogether.
If I do it more than 2 times I want to automate it in C#!
« Last Edit: May 24, 2016, 01:58:23 AM by Asudem »