Lots of things to think about – making a website
I have not focused entirely on the project I will use as a sampler for my studying to work as an e-trainer.
A friend has recently asked about setting up a website, and my partner, Julie, probably wants to make one, too, so currently I am thinking about what I have learned by making my own website with a Front Page 2000 template. It grew and grew, but now looks quite old-fashioned, so I have to make a new one for myself, too, maybe.
I will paste the notes I have compiled and emailed – although they could still do with a bit of organising.
I like this set of free tutorials online (have used their Office stuff).
I hope to look at Dreamweaver soon (Julie is a Mac enthusiast, and needs a web page) so we could probably learn in parallel. Their Dreamweaver module could be a good place to start.
CSS and HTML
In the old days you made each page separately, or you had a simple ‘theme’ (like my website’s navigation bar on the left) but people use CSS these days (Cascading Style Sheets). This simply means you make one file which contains all your colour schemes, button styles, etc – and when you make any new page you can refer to that one file to make all the pages consistent (as I understand it). This means that if you wanted to change the look of the site you simply edit that one reference file, rather than have to change each page. I don’t know much about this, yet.
When I first made my home site, I saved a Word Document (my cv) in HTML format, and it was ready to publish! All I needed was somewhere online to store it. Honestly, that’s how easy it is.
Since then they have improved ‘webpage makers’ so you don’t need to look at code much (though a little knowledge turns out useful for tweaking) – and can just use WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) software. Unfortunately you don’t always get exactly what you wanted (hence the tweaking).
Design and Planning
To make a sophisticated website (with several pages) could take a bit of planning and designing and thinking through (on paper), about how easy you want the navigation, how quickly the pages should load (for people on slow connections), use of thumbnails, etc.
I like the ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ principles for page layout.
And Web Writing That Works is influencing me to stop savouring all my precious words, and get terse / laconic for screen skimmers.
Note websites that you like (as models).
Blogs and WebPages
Having used Blogger (a rather linear publishing system) for so long, I have learned quite a lot (it lets you use WYSIWYG or edit the HTML). The difference between webpages and blogs is blurring…a non-linear navigation structure seems the main difference. One Home page, with various satellite pages, which can in turn have second-level satellites (two clicks ‘deep’). A mini ‘web’ of pages, in fact.
Free online resources:
My WordPress experiment uses one of their templates (you can tweak the HTML, but no need, to start with).
My GooglePage experiments (still in a testing mode). If you have a Google Account and look at the extras (more…) and in Labs, you will find Page Creator.
With both, you have the limitations of other people’s templates, of course, but they are great sketch pads, even if you go on to make a ‘clever and personal’ one with Dreamweaver.
Online storage for free (and no FTP needs)
I would suggest experimenting with one of the freebies (WordPress, GooglePages, or whatever – there are plenty about) as you don’t need to upload files, etc.
How others see you
You can never completely control how people will view the site. They may have fast or slow connections, look through the different prisms of Safari, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera – they may use a large or small screen, etc.
It’s worth checking out your work on as wide a variety of channels as you can.