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Aragorn

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Does anyone know of any software that will enable me to very simply create a website?
I am a novice to html but have experience with both design and graphics. Ideally I would like a software programme that allows me to do a "What you see if what you get" upload, and also took care of all the necessary details to get the site up and running.
The site I need to make would be fairly large - perhaps 50+ pages and in time would need to include on-line ordering capability.
In addition, if anyone has any other advice about creating websites and getting them seen, that would be much appreciated.
As always, I highly value your recommendations and opinions.
 

Martin

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Hi Aragorn,

I think it very much depends on what you want to do, and how you intend to go about it. I don't have much experience with these kind of tools (I use Adobe GoLive myself, which is very powerful but not exactly straightforward to learn).

I'd recommend that you download one of the free trials and just have a go. For example, Web Studio (http://www.webstudio.com) looks to be close to what you're looking for, but as I said I don't have personal experience with this sort of product.

In terms of hints and tips (apologies if this is egg sucking stuff...)
  • * Take the time to think about the style and structure of your site rather than just launching into it. It will pay dividends later on..

    * I'd think carefully about the timing for publishing your site. You probably want to get the site up and running quickly, but if it's too devoid of content there's a risk that visitors wont come back. I'm still on the fence on this one, but I think you need a reasonable amount of content from day one if you want to encourage people to come back.

    * Make sure you optimise the pictures & graphics on your site. It's easy when you're designing your site to forget about this because it'll all run so quickly when you're testing, but the same is not necessarily true for the public. On a single page a good rule of thumb is for the total page size (i.e. HTML + all graphics) to be under 50K, or at the very least 100K. Basically, users will not hang around to wait if your page takes too long to display.

    * If you have lots of large images to show, use smaller "thumbnails" instead which launch another page or window when clicked on and show a larger version. Most good web design tools allow you to generate thumbnails, and ideally should also be able to tell you the size of the page as you're designing it (and better still also tell you how long it will take to download to the user when using various modem, ADSL etc. connections).

    * Optimize your graphics (have I said that already?). I can't emphasise it enough. There's nothing worse (and unprofessional looking) on a web site than waiting to see individual images download because they're too large. If the page doesn't display fully within 5-10 seconds then IMO it's taking too long.

    * Try not to make individual pages too long - not only because it will up the page size (and hence download time), but is also more taxing on the user. I would tend to aim at about two browser screen-fulls maximum.

    * Try to use web-safe colours in your graphics if you can, otherwise your site may not display to other people in the same way as it does to you. Basically, "web-safe" is a pallete of about 240ish colours which are guaranteed to display identically on all browsers, whether on PC, Unix or Mac computers. A good web design tool should support this. It's too easy when you're designing to use the full gamut of 24million colours you probably have available on your PC - but not everyone browsing your site will have the same settings/hardware as you. It does depend on how sophisticated the graphics on your site are, but there's nothing worse than finding your beautifully crafted gradient looking all muddy and 'orrible on someone else's browser..

    * In order to get your site noticed you need to put certain keywords into your HTML page headers which tell the search engines what the content is about, allowing it to be more easily indexed. Again, good web design tools will have support for this, without you needing to go down to HTML. Also, I believe some search engines allow you to register your site directly with them (I think Google does this for example).
There are loads of others that I can't think of off hand - perhaps one of the starter web design books wouldn't go amis as well - they pretty much cover all of these things...

HTH.

regards,
Martin.
 

Aragorn

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Many thanks for the reply Martin and the tips and advice.

TBH, I thought I'd see quite a few replies to this one.
Several of you have websites - what software do you use? Did you find you needed to spend quite a while learning how to do it all before you got your sites uploaded?
Do you think it is unrealisitc of me to expect to be able to get a site up and maintained very much in my spare* time?


*Almost totally non-existant :cry:
 
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Hi Aragorn

I have created about 9 websites for work and use Microsoft Frontpage for nearly all of them. Looks like word/Excel/Powerpoint etc. Easy as pie.

One can easily create a site of 1/2 dozen page site in an hour with it

Only issue with Frontpage is that some of it's more fancy features require Microsoft Frontpage server extensions to be installed on your web server and some ISPs don't have them. This is only for very fancy features though. Our uni does not support the Frontpage extensions and I still created 9 websites with it and hosted them without problems

I also used Macromedia Dreamweaver which I find much less intuitive and more difficult to use. Equally as powerful as Frontpage though.

Finally I have created a hand coded site with pages written in HTML and Javascript for a company back in mid 90's. On line ordering et al. Took absolutely ages - months- but was fun.

I would get hold of Frontpage if I were you
 

Alf

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Aragorn":1gdya520 said:
TBH, I thought I'd see quite a few replies to this one.
Several of you have websites - what software do you use?
You did a search of course...?


I can't comment - designing and uploading my website always seems to be the most tortuous business.


Cheers, Alf
 

Steve Maskery

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Hi Aragorn

My site is done with Frontpage 98. It needs updating, I know, but that nice Mr Pete from GW doesn't respond to nagging very well, and his pics are so much better than mine :)

I once had a job as a software engineer, so I had a gounding in programming. It's all in the past, and things have moved on somewhat, but so has the user friendliness of software. I'm told DreamWeave is PDG, though I haven't used it myself.

I agree that it has to have some serious content if you plan to use it as a commercial site. Mine is very much a vanity site (though I think I may have just got my first commission from it, after 11k hits - not ALL me). There are some companies out there who have excellent products but lousy websites. It's not a good advert.

I'm thinking of re-structuring mine, so the gallery is not just a mass of thumbnails. I plan to make it The Lounge in Ash, and the Dining Room in Cherry, etc, to break it down a bit.

Whatever you choose, remember that the software is only a tool, and like any tool, you have to learn to use it.

Best of luck, mate, it is a Serious Project in its own right.
 

Chris Knight

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Aragorn,

It was such an open-ended question, I felt that I would wait for some others to do the hard work of replying first and Martin has done a great job.

Your point about on-line ordering suggests you have a commercial site in mind and for this, it isn't worth messing about with any of the so- called free sites in my mind. You need to find a web host that offers a load of auto - installable stuff like "shopping carts" etc. - even if you don't plan to use them straight away.

The good news is that there are plenty of such hosts - I use USA based hosts because they are cheaper and tend to offer more. At present I use Hostdime which is a pretty reliable outfit that can also register and manage a domain name for you at a reasonable price. Please note the hosting a website and registering domain names are separate activities that do not need to be combined but usually can be if you wish.

The bad news is that any site with commercial pretensions will need a lot of work to keep it fresh which is vital if you expect people to buy through it. Freshness is needed to get a decent search engine ranking and also to appeal to visitors. Good content is also vital, a few pictures and an amateur looking site will sell virtually nothing.

This said, a commercial site does not need a lot of bells and whistles - the fewer the better really but whatever is there had better be good.

I use Dreamweaver to do my sites. I started with Microsoft Frontpage but found it a real pain - reasonably easy to use initially but its propensity to create all sorts of unnecessary files and scatter them around my site drove me up the wall.

A simple site as you are proposing should not need a lot in the way of automated site management and I suggest you steer clear of it until and unless you find it absolutely necessary. (It is a bit like cutting dovetails by hand or with a jig and I am arguing that you should do it by hand to start with) . A "hand-built" site need not be complicated and you will develop a feel for what needs to go where. There are a zillion free or nearly free Wyswig editors around - I suggest you try this one http://www.nvu.com/ which is from the same outfit that makes the Firefox open source browser.

So:

1. Pick a domain name and see if it is registered - if not do so.
2. Register the domain name at a webhost you plane to use if they offer this service
3. Create the simplest page you can think of in an HTML wysiwig editor and upload it to your site using either the built in FTP of the editor or a separate FTP client or even the file manager that the control panel of your website (something the web host provides). I prefer a separate FTP client and again there are good free ones like Filezilla or SmartFTP
4. Test your page(s)
5. Use the Script installer on the control panel and install a couple of things like a PHP bulletin board or picture gallery to get a feel for how these things work. When you have seen how to (say) upload pictures, edit them and so forth in your new PHP gallery. then you can try your shopping cart.
 

Adam

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Aragorn":32m9rrf2 said:
to very simply create a website?

I am a novice to html

and in time would need to include on-line ordering capability.
My lack of reply was due to you managing to get those three statements in a single post! I think on-line ordering is opening a can of worms at the moment - why not try and get a basic site put together first, so you get a feel for how people are reacting to your content, then work out the add-ons later.

I (cough) have a copy of dreamweaver kicking about somewhere you can borrow if you wish :wink:.

Adam
 

Aragorn

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Ah thanks folks. I appreciate the suggestions, and the time taken to make detailed replies.
I already have webspace and a copy of dreamweaver, but not the first clue how to use it. I'll have a look at Frontpage to start with, but am quickly thinking a professional might need to be involved somewhere along the line <shucks>

Alf":3mhcgrs4 said:
You did a search of course...?
Hmm, well, strictly speaking, no... :oops: Sorry :oops:
 
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Anonymous

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Just for completeness, I use a product called TopStyle which can be downloaded from http://www.bradsoft.com.

There's a free version which doesn't time out, or a Pro version which has more features. But the free version is absolutely fine for the entry level web coders.

TopStyle may be slightly too advanced for the web illiterate user, but it's worth giving it a go. It has a cracking set of functionality to test functionality for different browsers.

I used other products previously but I haven't looked back since giving TopStyle a try.

Andrew
 

Martin

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Aragorn":3n01z2jo said:
Did you find you needed to spend quite a while learning how to do it all before you got your sites uploaded?

Do you think it is unrealisitc of me to expect to be able to get a site up and maintained very much in my spare* time?

*Almost totally non-existant :cry:
Aragorn,

I think you're going to have a learning curve to deal with irrespective of the tool you end up using. I've tried FrontPage in the past, and its a great tool (and will get you up and running quickly), but the problem is that it's almost too easy to add all the bells and whistles using it without really understanding how they all work and fit together (which then proves to be problematic when you want to tweak things later on, or worse still if things stop working). Waterhead's advice is spot on I think - start simply and in that way you'll learn as you go along.

GoLive is a good tool, but has a steep learning curve. I prefer this because it forces you to understand how everything fits together (rather than relying on a wizard ala Frontpage), which means that you have more scope for tweaking things and a better chance of fixing them when they go wrong. I imagine that Dreamweaver is similar, although I haven't used it personally.

You can certainly build a site in your spare time, but it depends on what you're trying to acheive. Aiming for a commercial site first off might be biting off a little bit too much in one go.

Why not instead have a go at a personal web site, see how that goes and then think about the commercial one later on. You might find that your ISP already gives you free web space with a domain name (most do). That will give you time to get up to speed on the technicalities of it all, whilst you think about the design, structure and content of the commercial version. It will also give you a better feel for whether you can do it yourself, or are going to be happy to pay someone else to do it...

Martin.
 

cd

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FWIW I use dreamweaver (rather badly :oops: ) for my site, its just for fun so it doesn't matter to much. I would reiterate what others have said an make sure you find a good webhost with lots of free scripts and extras. One thing that might be worth looking into if you intend to make the site commecial is ensuring your host has the appropriate secure server certificates (they might charge extra for this). If you want to learn dreamweaver their are loads of good books out there but I would reccomend the tutorials on the macromedia website I've used a couple and found them quite helpful.

CD
 

johnb

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For a simple web editor, if you can find a copy, the current (December) issue of Personal Computer World has a full copy of Namo WebEditor 4 on the cover disk. It is similar to FrontPage and has a MSWord style interface.

For pages of thumbnail and full pictures I use WebThumb from http://www.phobosoft.ch/index.html to generate web pages (look at the example web sites to see what it can do)

Secure ordering and purchase transaction handling is rather than just responding to e-mail enquiries!
 
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